Should You Retire Earlier Than Planned? (and what to do if you can’t) - Go55s

Should You Retire Earlier Than Planned? (and what to do if you can’t)

People around the world are finding that their plans and lives have been completely disrupted by the Covid-19 crisis. If you haven’t already retired from the workforce, it might have occurred to you that now seems like the ideal time to do so, whether you had planned to or not. You might have already had to stop working – or, at least, you might have had to stop commuting to a workplace where many of your colleagues congregate.

Is this a good time to retire? Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of early retirement; and, in case you can’t afford to retire, let’s also discuss some senior-friendly income-earning opportunities that are still available to you despite the current realities such as widespread business closures and ongoing social distancing measures.

Benefits of Retiring Right Now

Right now, masses of people are staying home in hopes of protecting themselves from exposure to the coronavirus. If you were to retire now, one of the most obvious benefits would be that you could stay home without having any stressful work obligations to cope with. An early retirement could also free up your time and enable you to be present for your loved ones, or to spend time on things you’d prioritise over working.

Downside to Retiring Now

For most Australian seniors, the greatest downside to early, unplanned retirement would be the sudden lack of income. But if you’ve carefully planned for retirement, this might not turn out to be a huge problem.

Can You Afford to Retire Now?

The experts at AMP recommend having a total of at least $43,601 per year available if you are a single Australian entering retirement. If you’re married, they recommend having a combined total of $61,522 per year in retirement funds available between you and your spouse.

This is the recommendation for a comfortable retirement, which would theoretically include some money for leisure and recreational activities. However, right now, you might be able to get by with a bit less, considering that Covid-19 has placed considerable limitations on your options for leisure and recreation. But if your available retirement funds don’t come anywhere close to equaling the aforementioned sums, it might be preferable to consider transitioning into a flexible, work-at-home job instead of retiring all together.

One other consideration is the state of your retirement investments. During the global financial crisis of mid-2007 to 2009, many Australian seniors incurred substantial losses because their super funds were heavily invested in equity markets that decreased in value.

With Australian markets once again trending downward, the same risks exist for people who plan to retire soon. Special measures are in place to allow financially stressed individuals to access super funds early; however, this doesn’t help much if the value of the investments has declined to the point that there aren’t enough funds to draw from.

Senior-Friendly Income-Earning Opportunities

The coronavirus has sent the Australian job market into a state of disarray. On one hand, bars, restaurants and retail establishments are closing in droves or changing their business models to focus on takeaways and deliveries. This has reduced hours for some employees whilst opening up opportunities for others.

The Australian government has created a jobs hub website with the intention of quickly transitioning displaced workers into new roles where they are urgently needed. The following are a few suggestions for possible work opportunities you could look into if you need cash as a result of having lost either your job or a portion of your retirement income:

1.    Software and Applications Programmer

If you have an aptitude for coding, testing and debugging, right now is a fantastic time to seek work as a software or applications programmer in Australia. There were already many open jobs for this vocation before the Covid-19 crisis reached Australia’s shores, and, so far, the crisis hasn’t caused demand to subside.

It is possible that the crisis might even help to drive even more demand for workers in this occupation. As Australians shift from working, meeting and going to school face-to-face, various technologies are bridging the gap and making it possible for people to work from home and homeschool in greater numbers. The nature of this transition assures that software and applications programmers will be likely to have steady work opportunities in the immediate future.

Some of these jobs can be done from home, making them ideal for seniors who need to work but also wish to self-isolate.

2.    Health Coach

Right now, people are in dire need of reliable health information. If you have a solid knowledge of health and fitness, and a desire to share this knowledge with others, you might want to consider working as a health coach.

These days, many health coaches do their work remotely using teleconferencing technology to facilitate virtual meetings rather than face-to-face meetings. This is an option to consider if you or your potential coaching clients are self-isolating right now.

3.    Truck Driver or Delivery Driver

There has been a massive increase in online shopping since the Covid-19 crisis began. This has resulted in an increase in demand for truck drivers and delivery drivers. For those who have a clean driving record and the physical strength necessary to do this job, there are openings waiting to be filled.

4.    Customer Service Representative

Many retail businesses, particularly those that sell food, sanitation supplies and seeds, are experiencing unprecedented surges in demand for their products. The situation has resulted in a corresponding spike in customer inquiries that need to be handled. In many cases, these merchants’ existing teams are overburdened; and quite a few of these businesses are scrambling to hire customer service representatives.

Many of the current customer-service-related job openings are for call centre operators. If you’re above the age of 60 and you have underlying health conditions, it would be prudent to ask whether you’d be able to work from home instead of reporting to a call centre. Many, but not all, employers are equipped to fulfill this type of request.

These are a few considerations for whether you could retire early – and what to do instead if you can’t afford to. If you’re in need of work, be sure to check the jobs hub website for specific job openings you could consider applying for.

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