Retirement Lifestyle with Paul McKeon | September 14:

I recently saw a very confronting program on SBS. It featured three women, all in their 60s and 70s, who had become homeless.

What was particularly disturbing about this show was that all these women were intelligent, articulate and had achieved success in their careers. In spite of having lived fairly normal, financially comfortable lives with no drug dependency, they were all homeless and living in cars or couch surfing. Unfortunately, their cases are not particularly unusual.

This program brought home to me just how fickle fate can be and how an unexpected illness or retrenchment or simple bad luck can have such a devastating effect on our lives. Obviously the older you are, the harder it is to recover from an unexpected financial disaster.

Have you ever stopped to think how you would respond to a major tragedy, either health, financial or relationship?

The one factor that all these women had in common was that they didn’t really do any planning for their retirement years and just thought that their normal, comfortable lives would go on indefinitely. When they were confronted with major, unwelcome changes in their lives, they simply weren’t prepared and there were awful consequences.

The unfortunate reality is that life isn’t fair and our 50s, 60s and 70s are times of major change. We leave work. We lose our industry network. Friends and relatives die. We travel to new countries. We move house. Our lifestyle changes. 

While we have no control over good and bad luck and getting older often means some health problems, there’s nothing stopping us from doing some planning to consider how we could handle some of the more likely challenges we may face. Think about your life and throw in a few “What ifs”. How would you respond if some of these “What ifs” actually happened?

The one thing that we can be sure of is that we’ll be living with ongoing change and the pace of that change will keep increasing.

If you need help facing these changes, go to www.retirementbooks.com.au.

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