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Andrew, aged 62

"If you’ve only got the money right, you've only done a quarter of the work. You have to be ready to think ‘What am I going to do for the next 25- 30 years?"

I was 60 when I retired. I had worked in the health industry as a registered nurse in the intensive care unit for 34 years. It was only in the last five years or so that I seriously started looking into retirement. I was putting a few things in place.

I went to a triathlete squad and trained myself up until I could swim properly because I thought when I retire I would like to be healthy. Working in the health industry I saw lots of men, in particular men of that age, who were not only in shocking physical health, but shocking mental health as well. So I thought,that's not going to happen to me.

I now work as a palliative care volunteer. I wanted something that led on a little bit from the 40 years of nursing that I'd done. I wasn't quite ready to just toss it in the bin, and I knew I had some experience and something more to give. Palliative care volunteering, as it's turned out, has been absolutely perfect for that. I think there's two parts to it: not only can I use some of the expertise that I already have, but I can actually continue to develop that expertise.

I was never much of a whiz on the money side of things, but I did go fairly early in the piece and speak to Aware Super and get that organised and thank goodness.

When I was working, I thought I was ready for retirement. I've done a lot of research, so I knew you had to be busy in the community. You had to get the money sorted out. I knew you had to stay healthy. So I organised all this stuff. But when I retired, I suddenly found out that I was the old guy who was retired and no one asks my opinion anymore. So that burnt for a little bit. I'm ready for it now. I think it's faintly amusing that I look back at myself parading around likeshow pony with everybody asking my opinions thinking ‘Mate, it's going to be taken away from you soon’.

One of the best things about retirement is I truly get to decide what I'm going do with my time and nobody - with the exception of my wife and my children - dictates to me what I should be doing. I can decide that myself. And then I look forward, and I think ‘Oh, wow. Hopefully, if all goes well, I've got another 25 years of that’.

Graham, aged 66

“If you come from an industry where you wear a uniform, you are set apart a little bit. When you're retired, you become just another person.”

I was a paramedic and worked for New South Wales Ambulance for 38 years. I retired in 2018 when I was 60. I've continued to do some consultancy work in both the public and private sectors.

The thing I like the most about semi-retirement is that I can continue to work in an area I was keenly interested in. Working part time gives me the opportunity to maintain a contribution to clinical quality and safety. Also, it's the flexibility of being able to accept pieces of work or say no If I'm busy doing other things. Then I'll just say, ‘I'm sorry, but I can't do that piece of work - give me a call when I get back’.

I would advise somebody who's about to retire to prepare for an adjustment. There's no doubt about that. If you come from an industry where you wear a uniform, you are set apart a little bit. When you're retired, you become just another person, and that can be rather an adjustment for people who have this profile in the community that - once they retire - disappears. It's about making sure that your work doesn't define you. You are much more than the occupation that you're in.

It comes back to doing what I want to do rather than what I have to do. I can make a contribution to the system, both public and private, and at the same time do some travelling and have my hobbies - classic and vintage cars and motorcycles. I can do all of those things and still have some interest in work.

If you can afford to retire early and do other things, then do. Because there's just so many other things to do. When I was retiring, the chief executive of the ambulance said, ‘You're only 60’. I said, ‘Yes, but I can do a lot of things when I'm 60 that I won't be able to do at 70’. So, although I was enjoying my work, there's other things to do. Don't wait till you're too old to do them.

Being financially prepared is a key component because money is not everything, but if you don't have enough, then your life can get pretty damn difficult. I continually stress to my kids to make sure that they provide for themselves, but they're not kids anymore. So put in as much into super as you possibly can for as long as you possibly can and as early as you possibly can.
 

Brad, aged 62

“You don't want to be the richest man in the cemetery”

I retired at 58. I didn't really want to retire that early, but I was a police officer and still operational, so wrestling 21-year-olds at 58 just wasn't convenient.

When I left school, I studied horticulture, ended up getting a diploma, and worked in that field until I was 25. And then I joined the police. Now I’ve gone back to horticulture; I work in a hardware store in the garden centre, but I only do 12 hours a week. I enjoy the social aspect of it. I've worked with a lot of young people, so I guess it keeps you in a decent mental state.

My father was in the military all his life, and when he retired it was like he just got out of jail - he was so regimented. It took him a little while before he found his feet with retirement. And I guess, because of him, I don’t have to go down that same path.

What’s the best thing about retirement? It’s funny because a kid the other day said, ‘You know, now you're a retired old bloke. What do you do? It must be so boring’. And I said to him, ‘You know how you really like being on school holidays? Well, it's school holidays. Only with money.’

The best advice came from the Aware Super financial planner. I went to a seminar and I had that whole mentality of ‘I'm not going to have enough money’. But he said ‘you don't want to be the richest man in the cemetery. You want to get out and enjoy yourself’.

So we have been travelling and have bought a couple of new cars. And, you know, I'm at a point in my life where I thought I couldn't be more comfortable. And I've still got plenty to kick on with. It didn't help that the whole financial industry collapsed about four months after I retired - I guess that was the biggest worry. But after a while, it all bounced back. Always does.

The one thing I would say to other people thinking about retirement is don’t be frightened. Retirement should be up there with the great traumas in your life, along with moving, divorce and death, because it is such a giant change. But you get through all the others (other than death), without too much drama.

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