Book review: Retirement Made Simple by Noel Whittaker

Noel Whittaker shares his financial wisdom and life experience in his latest book Retirement Made Simple.

Noel Whittaker shares his financial wisdom and life experience in his latest book Retirement Made Simple.

Half a million Australians will be retiring in the next five years, as Baby Boomers progress through their 60s and 70s.

As that group becomes the fastest growing demographic in the country - and perhaps also because our pandemic experience has caused a rethink and reset of many people's life goals - the search for information on superannuation, pensions, downsizing, healthy ageing and grey nomad travel is at a frenzy.

No surprises there.

No surprise either that Noel Whittaker, renowned financial expert, columnist and commentator, and already the author of about 20 books on money matters, has cut through the tangle of information to deliver a straightforward and intelligent guide: Retirement Made Simple.

The 430-page book covers all the topics related to retirement planning in eight chapters: from weighing up investment options, to retirement budgets, tax, superannuation and pension eligibility through to wills and enduring powers of attorney.

With clear explanations, case study examples, handy calculators and key messages highlighted, the book is easy to read from start to finish, or you can dive in subject by subject. There's a handy index at the back and a list of suggested further reading.

One of the most valuable chapters is left to last, where Whittaker brings to bear not just his decades of financial planning experience but his life experience. Now edging 80 himself, Whittaker discusses societal attitudes to ageing and his thoughts on what makes a happy and fulfilled life, including the importance of putting money in context.

People can have far more than they think possible, Whittaker says. They just have to make the best use of what they have ... "starting today". And another gem: remember that many of the best things in life - like taking a walk or listening to good music - really don't cost much.

When it comes to considering retirement, Whittaker advises to plan for it like any other major life transition - such as leaving school, getting married, buying your first house, having children.

That's where the first chapters of Retirement Made Simple come into their own.

One of the first concepts in the book is a favourite topic for Whittaker: compound interest. In this instance, he demonstrates the impact of compound growth on superannuation contributions and why it's important to continue paying in to a fund as long as possible, and not make any premature withdrawals.

Another interesting chapter helps you consider what risks you might be prepared to take - and should be prepared to take - in order to receive the best return on any investment towards retirement. Bottom line: there is no reward without some risk and investing in either shares or property (or both) should be viewed in the long term ... have patience.

When it comes to the design of your retirement plan, drawing on your superannuation and balancing it with any pension that's available, Whittaker recommends employing a financial adviser (and there's a section on finding a good financial adviser, too).

While that may be best for people on the brink of retirement, for those in their 40s and 50s gazing at the horizon of their working life, the book alone is an excellent starting point, for both the big picture and the detail. At the very least you'll know what questions to ask that financial adviser when the time comes.

  • Noel Whittaker contributes a weekly personal finance column to ACM, publisher of this website.
This story Everything you need to know about retirement first appeared on Newcastle Herald.