When can I retire? 45, 55 or 65?

Retirement. It’s up there with buying your first home and having a child when it comes to life’s big moments.

It can be rewarding to watch your super balance rise over time – just as we did when saving for our first deposit or planning for the arrival of a new addition to the family. However, a comfortable retirement can mean more than just contributing to a super fund.

Bryan Ashenden, the Head of Financial Literacy and Advocacy at BT, says when it comes to talking about and planning for retirement, the earlier the better. “The sooner you start, the longer you have to prepare to achieve the retirement you want.”

Bryan says as a first step, the idea is to sit down and consider the type of retirement you have in mind. “For some people, retirement means leaving the workforce entirely to follow other interests. Others want to work part-time or start another income-producing endeavour. The right choice is up to you. What’s essential is to think about this well before you stop work.”

What does retirement mean to you?

Understanding what retirement represents to you and your partner or loved one is part of addressing the question of how to fund your retirement, including what if any role the age pension will play in your income.

When you discuss retirement with your partner, take the opportunity to talk about when you both wish to stop work. Often one person will want to leave work before the other, or one half of the couple may be older than the other and wish to leave work first. When you both leave work will impact how much you will have in retirement and your eligibility for any income support, which is why it’s sensible to talk this through.

This discussion is an important one to have when it comes to structuring your financial affairs. It will also ensure you understand each other’s retirement goals.

What do I want to do in retirement?

It’s vital to talk about how you want to structure your time when you retire well before you leave full-time work for the last time. It’s normal to have different views about what constitutes a dream retirement.

Talk through your expectations about travel plans, making a sea or tree change and pursuing a hobby or even a new business. It’s also wise to discuss whether and how you want to financially assist your children or care for elderly relatives. These factors should be taken into account when planning how you want to fund your retirement, as well as the type of lifestyle you will lead.

While saving for retirement can seem somewhat daunting, there are a few simple strategies to use when planning your best financial future.

When will I be ready for retirement?

Some people enjoy the freedom of moving from full-time employment into retirement. Others find the abrupt change unsettling.

“Many people say they want to retire at 55, for instance. But they reach that age and question if they can afford, or even want, to retire,” Bryan says.

The path forward will depend on your financial position and expected future income and spending and your idea of what a good retirement looks like.

Bryan notes health considerations are also likely to impact your approach to retirement, as well as the knowledge many Baby Boomers are likely to spend much longer in retirement than their parents. This not only means a longer period in which to pursue later-life dreams, but also a longer period in which to incur healthcare and other costs that may impact your retirement funding.

Even if you haven’t given these issues much thought previously and feel under-prepared for retirement, it’s never too late to start talking about it.

“You don’t necessarily need to change anything immediately,” Bryan says. “It’s all about keeping the lines of communication – and your options – open.”

Next: How much do I need in retirement?

Related content

Thinking about retirement, but not sure where to start? Get tips and information in our Planning for Retirement guide, to help you get started today.

Whatever your vision of retirement is, making the most of your retirement years is certainly something worth planning for.

Not sure if your super will last the distance in your retirement? Our Super & Retirement calculator may provide a guide on the super balance you might have when you retire and how long it might last.

While the Australian retirement age can differ for everyone, there are a few things to consider when planning for a modest or comfortable retirement.
How do you make sure your hard-earned retirement savings last? There are a range of steps before and after retiring you can take to make the most of your retirement income.
Adding more into super is not only a good way to invest your income, it also helps your retirement savings grow so that when you do retire, your money will still be worth something.

Things you should know

The article was prepared by BT and is current as at 1 July 2024.

The information in this publication is general information and factual only. It does not constitute any recommendation or financial product advice. The information has been prepared without taking into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs and so you should consider its appropriateness having regard to these factors before acting on it. This information may contain material provided directly by third parties and has not been independently verified and Westpac Banking Corporation is not in any way responsible for such information.

The information provided on this website is of a general nature and for information purposes only. It does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It is not financial product advice and must not be relied upon as such. Before making any financial decision you should determine whether the information is appropriate in terms of your particular circumstances and seek advice from an independent licensed financial services professional.