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For most of us, our first experience of 'managing our money' started with the clink of a coin in a piggy bank. For most of your life there has been a resounding message about money - setting aside part of your earnings as savings for the future is good, and the more you can save the better.

But there is one time in life, as we enter retirement, when our mindset of our savings being only for future spending needs to change. Switching from receiving a regular pay-cheque to living off one pool of retirement savings can be a challenge.

In this article, we delve into finding that 'just right' balance by examining various money personalities and exploring key factors regarding your well-earned retirement savings. Whether you're a saver by nature or a spender at heart, understanding these nuances can help tailor a retirement spending plan that fits comfortably with your lifestyle and long-term goals.

Are you a spender, saver or somewhere in between?

Your relationship with money plays a crucial role in determining your approach to financial security in retirement.

Try our quick quiz to get a better idea of your money values.

The fear of running out can hit both savers and spenders alike. In fact, research from YouGov commissioned by Findex1, shows two thirds of Australians in the pre-retirement phase fear they won’t have sufficient financial resources to retire. So exactly how does your money personality impact your approach to retirement spending?

Spenders tend to enjoy the present, often spending on experiences or purchases that bring immediate joy. However, in retirement, the absence of a regular income can turn every expense into a moment of anxiety. Spenders may find it particularly hard to adjust to a fixed budget, especially if they haven't planned ahead . If you consider yourself a spender, some useful strategies for you include:

  • Automating retirement income at a sustainable withdrawal rate. For example, a retirement income account can can help you stay in control of your regular spending.
  • Budget to provide yourself with some financial wiggle room, so that you can make those purchases from time to time without wearing away at your nest egg.
  • Consider future part-time work or working for longer to maintain your lifestyle without jeopardising your financial future.

Protectors, on the other hand, are conservative with their resources. They take comfort in the security that a robust savings account provides. For protectors, the very act of spending from their nest egg can be stressful. They may tend to overestimate the risks of running out of money, leading to an unnecessarily frugal retirement . If you consider yourself a protector, some useful strategies for you include:

  • A retirement income account can ensure your savings continue to potentially grow through investment earnings, even while you’re drawing an income to make sure your savings go the distance.
  • Protectors benefit from a clear understanding of their eligibility for the Age Pension and how that may change over time, so you can spend more confidently, knowing there is a safety net available.
  • Being clear on your goals is important to help you feel more confident you’re on the right track with your retirement planning. Are you simply saving enough to enjoy a comfortable retirement? Or is leaving an inheritance behind to your loved ones important?

Consider what will happen to your hard-earned savings if you don’t spend your money while you still can.

Avoiders find money decisions stressful. They have the best intentions of being like protectors but find themselves often behaving like spenders. They may plan to save and spend wisely but regularly deviate from the plan, feeling guilty about spending money and worrying that they’re not saving enough. Avoiders often feel like they don’t have the right skills or knowledge to be ‘good with money’.

If you consider yourself an avoider, some useful strategies for you include:

  • Setting yourself a structured plan with some flexibility built in to accommodate occasional splurges, as well as clear rules for when it's acceptable to go off-plan.
  • Most retirement income accounts provide the option for lump sum withdrawals, which can offer the necessary flexibility for avoiders to address both planned and unplanned expenses.
  • Setting up regular reviews of financial goals and budgets can help you remain on track while allowing for adjustments as necessary.
  • An emergency fund separate from your retirement income account can be particularly useful to help you cover unexpected costs without dipping into your retirement income account.

Each personality type faces their own dilemmas. The key lies in understanding your financial tendencies and creating a retirement spending plan that aligns with your personality. Finding a balance between preserving funds and enjoying your retirement years is essential, and it starts with knowing who you are as a financial being.

1YouGov commissioned by Findex, 22 May 2023, Preparing for retirement: two in three Australians fear they don’t have enough


If you need help deciding what to do with your SASS benefit, an Aware Super planner can review your personal circumstances, talk you through each option and ultimately help you make a more informed decision.

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Next steps for SASS deferred members

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The information contained in this article is given in good faith and has been derived from sources believed to be reliable and accurate. No warranty as to the accuracy or completeness of this information is given and no responsibility is accepted by Aware Super Pty Ltd or its employees for any loss or damage arising from reliance on the information provided.

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