Retirement planning done properly, is more than just increasing your super contributions to 15% or buying and few investment properties. If done well, it is about making sure you have the financial ability to live the life you want both now and after you retire.

When to start retirement planning?

Retirement planning is something we recommend everyone starts as early as possible. When we say early, we really mean those with at least 10 to 20 years until they plan on retiring. Not only will this help you live the life you want for longer, but from a financial perspective you will get the most out of the benefits of compounding.

Create the life you want
Key stages to retirement planning

There are four key stages to retirement planning. Firstly, map out what you want your life to look like. Secondly, taking control of your money and plan your expenditure. Thirdly, review your investments (including your superannuation) and make sure they are suitable for what you need. Finally, implement it – automate savings plans, change super, set up investments.

Designing the life you want

As Pablo Picasso once said, everything you can imagine is real. Ask anyone that is 70 or 80 years old and they will tell you that life goes too fast. It is up to us all to make sure we don’t just sit back and take whatever comes our way. We all should design the life we want and then go and get it.

Start by considering what is really important to you. What are your core values? Is it having a successful career or business, is it always being there for your children, or is it donating as much of your time back to the community.

Step 1 – why is money important to you

We start the process by asking clients why money is important to them. Once they have answered this, we take this answer and ask why this is important to them. For example, if their first answer is “it gives me freedom”, we would ask why freedom is important to them. We keep going until we get to the point that their final answer is the most important thing to them. We then use this as a reference point for all future work.

Step 2 – who is in your circle of influence

Often we here that you should start any planning discussion with the why. While this is true, we should not dismiss the who. It is important to take some time and think about who is in your circle of influence. Before we take people through the goals mapping exercise, we start by discussing who they can have a positive impact on over the next 10-20 years. This could be their partner, children, parents, siblings or friends. This can then be used as a real motivator to do the hard work that is required to achieve your goals.

Step 3 – what are your personal goals

The next step is to start mapping out all of your personal goals, including those that cost money and those that don’t. Goals that cost money often include things like when you want to be able to stop working for money, the types of holidays you want to take, how are you going to support your children, where you want to live, and what type of lifestyle you want.

To get you thinking about this, I recommend people ask themselves two questions.

  1. Imagine you won the lottery today and all of a sudden had more than enough money to last you for the rest of your life. What would the rest of your life be like?
  2. You haven’t won the lottery. Imagine you went to the doctor and were told that while you would be healthy, you only had 5 to 10 years left to live. What would you want to achieve in these 5-10 years?

The answer to the first question is more about your dreams, and what you think would be fun to do. While this is valuable, it is really the goals you identify in the second question that shows what is truly important to you.

Step 4 – map out a timeline

The final step in this process is to map out your goals for the next 10-20 years in a timeline; identify what is stopping you from achieving them; and put in place a plan for achieving them.

Once you have mapped out your goals, you then move to the next step which is to plan your future expenditure. I will cover the process to do this in the next article.

If you would like help mapping out your goals and financial strategy, we have a 6 month program that will deliver what you want. To discuss, book a chat with us via the link below, call on 0417034252 or email at

About the Author
Phil Harvey is an independent financial adviser. In 2017 Phil set up his company Construct Wealth to help clients best manage their finances so they focus on what is important to them. He is a founding member of the Profession of Independent Financial Advisers and a tax financial adviser, registered with the Tax Practitioners Board.

General Advice Warning
This advice contains general information. It may not be suitable to you because it does not consider your personal circumstances. Phil Harvey and Construct Wealth are authorised representatives of Independent Financial Advisers Australia (AFSL 464629)

See related articles

How much is enough?

One of the best things about my job is getting to work with and help people from all walks of life.There are doctors, lawyers, tradies, nurses, teachers, and [...]

  • Making work optional earlier

Making work optional sooner

What are three things you can do to make work optional sooner?A lot has happened in the last 12 months.This time last year, most of Australia was in [...]