Five things to consider if you’re retiring this year

You’ve spent years saving and planning for your retirement only for a market downturn to spark worry about whether now is the right time. Not only will you be grappling with the idea of spending more time with your partner and contemplating your new daily routine, but you now have the added concern about whether you’ll have enough money to live the retirement you’ve dreamed of.

As you approach retirement, you should think about how to protect your nest egg over the coming years. Ensure your retirement strategy is still the right one for your circumstances, whether that’s how you’re invested, ways to create an income stream or eligibility for the Age Pension.

We’ve put together a list of five things to consider if you’re retiring this year.

1. Remember the 10/30/60 rule

The 10/30/60 rule suggests your retirement income comes from three sources1.

  • 10% from money you saved during your working years.
  • 30% from investment returns before you retire.
  • 60% from investment returns during your retirement.

To achieve your retirement goals, it’s therefore critical to earn a good return on your money while you’re retired, not just while you’re making contributions. In early retirement, most money you withdraw comes from your investment returns, only later do you start drawing down on your capital.

So, even if your super balance has dropped in recent months, it’s not all bad news. There’s still plenty of time for your investment to continue to grow while you enjoy life as a retiree.

2. Invest wisely

Having the right mix of assets is essential during your working life and when you retire. The 10/30/60 rule clearly shows why.

Many people mistakenly think once they retire their money stops growing. But a sound long-term investment strategy should keep your nest egg growing as you start to withdraw from it, based on your investment timeframe and tolerance for risk.

Including growth assets (shares and property) potentially allows you to generate higher investment returns and therefore prolong the need to draw down on your capital. Plus, being too cautious might mean your money doesn’t generate enough growth and your retirement savings may not last throughout your lifetime. Ensuring your super is well-diversified can help smooth out and reduce the volatility of returns and severity of any negative periods.

3. Be market aware

No-one knows how share markets will behave in the future. After all, who could have foreseen the COVID-19 pandemic – a health crisis with such devastating economic consequences.

However, history shows us markets are cyclical. The challenge for pre-retirees is how to manage an unexpected market downturn close to their retirement date.

Having an eye on financial markets as well as a good relationship with a financial adviser can provide reassurance during difficult times. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t adapt to changes in market conditions as you approach retirement, regardless of whether markets are booming or declining.

4. Consider a transition to retirement strategy

If you’re asking yourself, “when can I retire?”, you could consider a transition to retirement (TTR) strategy. If you’ve reached your preservation age and you’re still working, it could be an effective way to reduce your working hours without reducing your income2.

Work fewer hours and use a TTR pension to supplement your income.

Salary sacrifice some of your salary into super and use a TTR pension to replace the lost income, even if you continue working full-time.

The taxation benefits of TTR is one of the big drawcards.

If you’re aged over 60, any money you receive from a TTR pension is completely tax free.

And even for those under 60, when you salary sacrifice or make a voluntary concessional contribution into your super, these are taxed at the concessional rate of 15%. Plus, all earnings are also taxed at 15%, rather than your marginal rate.

The other advantage of TTR is the ability to use the income to pay off non-deductible debt like a home loan or credit cards. This could reduce your overall financial burden or even remove it completely by the time you retire.

Learn about how a Transition to Retirement pension could work for you, and the most recent changes to tax rules which may affect you.

5. Take your time

If you’re thinking about retiring this year, make sure you’ve given yourself time to plan properly – and that includes planning for the unexpected.

The Government has given retirees a helping hand during the current pandemic and reduced the minimum pension drawdown rates for retirees. This means they aren’t forced to sell their assets at a time when their value is reduced just to fund their income stream.

But this is unlikely to be the case in every market downturn.

A major risk facing all pre-retirees is sequencing risk – the risk that the timing of withdrawals from super will damage your overall return because financial markets fall in the years leading up to your retirement3. You may choose to delay retiring, reduce your spending, postpone travel plans or make different lifestyle choices.

Good financial habits hold true in retirement as well as when you’re working. So, think about how your living expenses will change when you retire and make sure you have enough accessible cash to cover a couple of years ahead. It’s the same as having emergency funds while you’re working to cover daily essentials and means if financial markets drop again or continue to be volatile, you won’t have to sell assets at a low price.

Whether you choose to gradually cut down your working week, or transition into retirement, one of the challenges faced by retirees is how to plan for the change.

Keep the dream of retiring this year

There’s no one right answer to the question “when can I retire?”. Your circumstances will let you know when the time is right for you.

Financial markets will always fluctuate so have a plan you’re comfortable with and follow it. Invest according to your risk tolerance and find the appropriate balance between short-term accessible cash and long-term investment growth so you can enjoy a long and happy retirement.

Next: How much will you need to enjoy your 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.


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 gifting some of your assets or retirement savings could help your family financially, bear in mind, could also impact your age pension.
3 things to know about transition to retirement pensions.
Whatever your vision of retirement is, making the most of your retirement years is certainly something worth planning for.

Things you should know

This information is current as at 1 July 2023

The article was prepared by BT, a part of Westpac Banking Corporation ABN 33 007 457 141, AFSL and Australian Credit Licence 233714. This article provides an overview or summary only and it should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter or relied upon as such.

This article does contain material provided by third parties derived from sources believed to be accurate at its issue date. While such material is published with necessary permission, BT accepts no responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of, or endorses any such material. Except where contrary to law, we intend by this notice to exclude liability for this material.

This information does not take 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.