Through the looking glass

As the COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us, life is always evolving.

From the initial fear of watching local and global infection rates climb, through to lock downs and openings, the normalisation of mask wearing, the move to online shopping, contactless delivery, working from home and greater job flexibility, nothing stays the same.

However, pre-pandemic life was already very different from previous generations. It’s easy in our busy lives to underestimate how much things have changed. The level of complexity we all deal with, often without a second thought, highlights how far we have travelled from the path of our parents. What they did and the decisions they made might not work so well today.

Previous generations expected to work all their lives. The norm wasn’t to retire and they didn’t plan for or need to save for a retirement. If they reached age 65 they would retire with some savings and a government pension which was first introduced in 1909 when the male life expectancy was just 56. Most would not receive a pension and for the few that did it would be generally short lived. A couple that owned their own home would upon their death leave a modest inheritance and the proceeds divided between a number of children.

Looking forward to today, younger generations are educated to a higher level and stay longer in the education system. They enjoy a better lifestyle, have a more balanced approach to work and often travel extensively before starting a family. We are living longer and healthier lives, having families later with fewer children, and are wealthier than past generations.

Those who retired or will retire in the next ten years, expect they will enjoy a quality lifestyle including travel lasting 20 to 30 years beyond their working lives, with their children likely to also  retire during their lifetime.

Blended families, individual circumstances and significant wealth can add further complexity.

No wonder we sometimes feel overwhelmed with the complexity of life today.

It is important to refocus on what we have worked and saved for throughout our life, what the real meaning of money or wealth is. It is for most, not to die with a largest pot of money but rather to have funds to enjoy lifestyle, outsourcing unwanted activities and chores to ‘buy’ time with family or do chosen activities (holidays, adventure, hobbies) and to benefit family earlier while it can help them most (home deposit, education costs, mortgage, family holidays etc.).

Good planning cannot remove all the complexity but it can help ensure your overall situation is working cohesively at all stages of life, and helps you achieve what you set out to without making it more complex than needed.

Living a better life is a journey not a finite destination, it’s often a work in progress as circumstances change and evolve as we move through life. When people come to see us, they discover more is possible than they expected. They don’t have to wait for a distant date to start living the live they want. Often they wish they had come to see us earlier rather than waiting so they could be living their best life sooner. 

If you have any questions, or would like to discuss your personal situation, please contact your local BDO adviser.

This publication has been carefully prepared, but it has been written in general terms and should be seen as broad guidance only. The publication cannot be relied upon to cover specific situations and you should not act, or refrain from acting, upon the information contained therein without obtaining specific professional advice. Please contact the BDO member firms in Australia to discuss these matters in the context of your particular circumstances. BDO Australia Ltd and each BDO member firm in Australia, their partners and/or directors, employees and agents do not accept or assume any liability or duty of care for any loss arising from any action taken or not taken by anyone in reliance on the information in this publication or for any decision based on it.

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