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Five ways to prepare for a fruitful retirement

The old model of retirement seems to be going out of favour these days. Instead of the classic scenario where you walk out of your workplace on that last Friday night and then wake up late on the following Monday wondering “what next?”, this often now is replaced by a transition towards retirement.

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This might be described as semi-retirement. But the challenges of what to do with the rest of your life remain. Increasing longevity means many people will have many years out of the full-time workforce.

There is still so much to look forward to – but it is certainly a time to “wait upon the Lord”

As Christians, we want to remain fruitful throughout our lives. With limited paid job opportunities for retirees, working as a volunteer is an attractive option. There are plenty of not-for-profits that need volunteer staff.

I work as an announcer at a community radio station on the Gold Coast alongside paid staff as a volunteer.

The choices people make about what to do in retirement will be limited by their incomes, which will usually be much less than they earned in the paid workforce. If you are unlikely to have enough savings to live on, in the form of superannuation or other investments, self-employment may be an option for those with enough capital to invest in a business without taking too great a financial risk.

There may be other ways of generating extra cash that don’t require a lot of capital, which I mention in my book, Making Retirement Work.

John Bradford

A big question retirees face sooner or later is where to live in retirement. Remaining in the family home is almost always going to be the preferred option. My wife Judy and I have built on a “granny flat” to our family home, allowing our daughter, her husband and our grandchildren to occupy the main house. It’s a win-win. We have a comfortable home and our children have a free on-site baby-sitting service!

Five Things to Do to Prepare for a Fruitful Retirement.

1.     Pray. Christians will obviously want to pray about what is a significant event and an exciting time of life. There is still so much to look forward to. But it is certainly a time to “wait upon the Lord” (Isaiah 40:31).  In my book I commend the words of St Paul in Philippians 4:6 to readers: “Do not be anxious but in every situation by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.”

2.     Seek out the company of others in similar situations. This can be done formally or informally. Q4 Connection is a group encouraging and equipping Christians to find and follow God’s call in the fourth quarter of their lives. One of the things I would like to do is organise pre-retirement counselling seminars or even an extended retreat programme involving expert speakers and pastors.

3.      Set achievable goals.  I have always believed that setting goals is an important component in achieving success. By having clear goals you have an idea exactly what you want to achieve and how to go about doing it. Setting realistic goals when you are 60 is just as important as setting them when you are 20. Most importantly, be determined to finish well. (Hebrews 12:1-2).

4.     Make realistic financial plans. Take professional advice, if necessary, to ensure you will have adequate money to live on when you retire. Understand clearly how long your savings will last. Like goal setting, budgeting is essential to avoid getting into unmanageable debt. An option may be accessing some of the equity in your home, if you are fortunate to own one.

5.     Take stock of your talents and determine to put them to good use. God has given you qualifications and a lifetime of experience which should not be wasted. While retirement does give the opportunity to enjoy things which a busy work and family life precluded, it would be very poor stewardship to waste your talents and experience on the golf course or bowling green.

John Bradford is a semi-retired former businessman and federal politician (Liberal turned Christian Democratic Party). After he retired from politics he served as a missionary to Mongolia with Bible Society and with YWAM (Mercy Ships) in the UK and US. He now lives on the Gold Coast. He has written four books.

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