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By Rory Gibson.
Rory is one of Australia’s foremost writers and editors. A highly experienced News Limited editor, chief-sub-editor and reporter, he enjoys a strong public profile with a current weekly column in Queensland’s Sunday Mail and other regular feature writing.
I've reached an age where time is more important to me than money. But it requires money in order to enjoy that time, and it remains to be seen whether I’ve assembled enough money to enjoy what time I have left, which for all I know could be another 30 years. Here’s hoping.
But if I had known then what I know now back when I was in my 20s and 30s, hope wouldn’t be a part of the equation. I would be confident that by the time I reached 60, I would have done all I could to ensure that I was well-placed to enjoy the fruits of my working life.
It wasn’t until I was in my early 40s that I realised I had wasted a golden opportunity to create wealth that didn’t require much effort on my part and is open to everyone. More on that shortly.
It was a time when I had a good job, a young family, and a large mortgage on a nice house. It just didn’t occur to me that anything could go wrong.
But it did. Life has a habit of throwing challenges at you when you least expect it. I lost that job, and had to sell the house and move my family to a new city to get a new one.
Around this time, my wife was diagnosed with a terminal illness, which she went on to fight for 10 years, incurring some monumental medical bills along the way. She did not have life insurance or income protection insurance.
This series of events instigated a lightbulb moment for me. I realised how vulnerable we were financially. I realised I couldn’t rely on always having a job, and wanted to avoid needing government assistance if possible, including the Age Pension down the track. So I started reading up on personal finance with a view to establishing some self-reliance.
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There’s a stack of knowledge out there. I read books on how to profit from real estate, how to invest in shares, the pros and cons of ploughing money into superannuation, the importance of tax planning, estate planning, the difference between good and bad debt, ways to make money work for me instead of me working for money, the magic combination of time and compounding…
Once I became comfortable with the jargon, I couldn’t get enough of it. The subject matter isn’t as tedious as it sounds, honestly!
Then I swung into action. What I’ve since discovered is that it’s never too late to start, but I wish I had started much earlier.
A 2017 survey of QSuper members found that the biggest financial headache for those aged 35 to 54 was how they were going to pay for their retirement. If I was still one of them, this is the letter I would write to my 60-year-old self letting me know I had done all I could to prepare for a post-working life.
Well done you for making it this far. I trust you have looked after our health diligently so that now you’ve got some quality time to play with - you can do all those things you’ve been daydreaming about for years.
If you check your accounts, you’ll see everything is order. Impressive, isn’t it? No need to worry too much about money. You go buy that new surfboard and the car to strap it to.
How did I do it, I imagine you asking?
So, now I want you to go and enjoy yourself. But one last thing - make sure you reinforce to your kids and grandkids that it’s never too late to start, but the sooner they do, the better off they’ll be.
Yours in happy retirement,
Personal view disclaimer
The views of the author are not necessarily the views of the QSuper Board and QInvest Limited Board. We’ve put this information together as general information only and you should get professional advice before relying on this information.
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