It has been interesting, and also inspiring, working with more clients in the past few years who fit in the 30- to 50-year-old bracket who have a very different view of retirement – and I believe they have it right.
Traditionally, it has been viewed that retirement is when you pull up stumps and walk away from work to never return again, giving you more than 40 extra hours a week at your complete disposal.
Like many of my clients, I share the same view of fearing retirement. The thought of getting up every day with nothing to go to scares them. “What the hell would I do?” is a very common response. My thoughts exactly. How would I fill my days in? Play golf five days a week? Please, that would send me crazy.
How does the Gen X and Y perception of retirement differ from the traditional means of retirement?
One major difference is their view on longevity in the workforce.
They are setting out to design their future with the end goal in focus, like traditional retirement, but with a very different outcome. The outcome for most of them is lifestyle. They want flexibility in their work i.e. maybe three days a week for 40 weeks a year from the age of 55, and this to continue for many years even up to 75.
They understand it would be unlikely that they will have the funds to retire at age 55 and walk away from the workforce entirely, but they don’t want to be walking away entirely either. They want a balance in their lifestyle.
They have more time for exercising, hobbies, family and friends, classes in cooking or languages, travelling or however they choose to spend those extra hours a week.
It is well known that Gen X and Y are more likely to change careers than any previous generation and this works perfectly in their favour for the future. You may currently be a tradie on the tools thinking, “How the hell I can do this until I am 70?” You are right, you probably can’t. But we have the power and the ability to manoeuvre around industries easier than ever.
The other thought is, “Will your industry even exist in 20 to 30 years’ time?”. No idea. Will my industry be around in 20 years’ time? No idea. Fast-paced changes are coming at the moment, so it may well not exist if artificial intelligence continues on its path.
More and more, I am seeing that people are willing to forego money in the pursuit of lifestyle and balance. I think this is wonderful. Who would have thought that people are happier when they are earning less?
Many of these people have goals of spending more time with their children and grandchildren, getting involved in charity work and giving back to the community. They get a sense of satisfaction from these types of goals that money cannot buy.
I believe this path that many people are taking is incredibly empowering for them and the people around them. Yes, they will have a longer career in the workforce, but they are having happier and more fulfilled lives. What a great outcome for them and society as a whole.
Tom Momsen is a financial planner for Armcrest Financial Advice, based in Newcastle.
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