After 25 years working, in what is now the Nucleus Technical Support Unit, and preaching the ‘gospel’ of good tax and retirement planning, I found it was time to put the theory into practice with my own impending retirement at the end of the year.
I also found it to be a bit of a psychological rollercoaster.
The first dilemma was, is it the right time to go? And the second - and perhaps the most difficult - the financial concerns that might turn my golden years into a rusty cage of anxiety if I got things wrong.
I’d always promised myself that I wouldn’t work past 60, and as much as I love my job, I felt envious of friends who had already taken the plunge into retired life.
One-sided conversations about long holidays, being able to spend time on hobbies and just having full control of their own time, and what they did with it, pushed me to finally make the decision that it was time I should contribute to the retirement banter, rather than sit there and nod sage-like.
The second dilemma, the fear of financial instability post-retirement – the risk of not having a rewarding retirement, which ironically is Nucleus’s purpose. In essence, the thought that I was trading in my office chair for a hammock, with the monthly bills suddenly mounting up and starting to feel like an avalanche of paperwork inhibiting my blissful days.
While retirement planning is crucial, it's like trying to predict the weather in Scotland—uncertain at best. Now having followed my own doctrine, I knew things should be fine financially, but there was still the need for some reassurance, which is where my financial adviser stepped in.
Invaluable adviser support
The support from someone independent to work through both my wife’s and my income needs, in order to fulfil our expectations in retirement, was invaluable. Getting the nod that we could afford to achieve our plans gave me the comfort I needed to finally brave it and call it a day.
Interestingly, as part of the preparation for meeting our financial adviser I discovered the new, for me, concept of budgeting. Accepting that income is going to be significantly less, I took time to look at how our salaries were utilised. I think it’s fair to say that over the years I’d become lazy when it comes to reviewing our expenditure and I was somewhat taken aback at some of the waste.
One example was our subscription for TV channels. We were still paying for a children’s TV package for our daughter despite the fact she is married and left home 13 years ago. The money saved could have paid for a holiday. At the other extreme, and after reading an article on the top 5 brands of baked beans, I took it upon myself to do my own research. I’m happy to confirm that some supermarkets’ own brands are better than the best-selling brand and at less than half the price!
The next step was a visit to our solicitors to update our wills and get powers of attorneys drafted which, like many, we have procrastinated over for years.
I can’t emphasise enough how important this is. A will not only helps ensure you estate is administered quickly, but can save tax and help to protect your assets against long term care costs.
In addition, a power of attorney is a must
A great deal of comfort is derived knowing that if I am unable to deal with my own affairs, someone I trust can step in without any delay. The alternative would be long delays, and additional costs, at a time when it can be very stressful for those trying to sort out your affairs.
Lastly, let's tackle the elephant in the room of ‘what's next’. Retirement can sometimes feel like standing at a crossroads without a GPS. The preferred road ahead looks inviting but also daunting, with many potential twists and turns.
Yet isn't that the beauty of it?
Retirement isn't just about financial security, it's a chance to rewrite your narrative. Embrace the blank canvas and dare to explore new passions, be it painting, paragliding, or penning that novel you've always dreamed of writing, because the most remarkable tales are often written after the final chapter of our careers.