Planning a phased retirement

Guest blog by Donna Hames of Carisma Wills

No expiry date – Planning a phased retirement

Shaping the future

My personal life has had massive highs and one earth-shattering low that shape who I am, what I do and how I do it. I’m probably the most risk-averse entrepreneur you’ve ever met! I don’t take risks, especially when it comes to money and happiness.

My work life has been international, glamorous, at times very unglamorous, and almost unbelievably varied. I’ve worked for two household names and have always had an occupational pension and a private pension. My employer has contributed to my retirement income throughout my working life. This includes the years when my employer has been my own limited company.

My first solo business, Carisma Wills, set up in 2007, helps financial professionals support their clients. I’m a Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney specialist. I talk to clients every day about assets and values, hopes, and expectations. Working in estate planning means I’m unavoidably focused on risk and later life.

No expiry date

With more than thirty years of building my pension funds and savings, I hope to live comfortably from retirement to the end of my life. I do, however, acknowledge that I can’t accurately predict the date of either event!

The government has decided that at 67, I’ll be old enough to stop working. I’m not sure I agree. Why should I have such an arbitrary expiry date?

Leaving a legacy

Our parent’s experiences often inform our views and outlook on life.

My father retired from the automotive industry at 65. He spent a few months pretending it was fun doing nothing but jumped at the chance to work part-time at the local theme park. With over a decade as the much-loved carousel operator, he stepped away from paid work shortly after his 79th birthday.

Like my dad, looking towards retirement, I have no line in the sand. I love my job. I find absolute pleasure in helping people navigate their estate planning. Slowing down is more about living well. I see retirement as a gradual shift from full-on to part-time over 5 or more years. Part-time is likely to be seasonally adjusted too! I intend to find a work/retirement life balance, but I fully expect this to be fluid.

My retirement will focus on my passions – and like most people, my number one priority is my family. Some of my best memories have been teaching our children how to do things. Not just riding a bike and making a cake, but other essential skills such as how to save, what to look for when buying a car and understanding the difference between product insurance and life cover. My ideal future is full of life-enhancing activities with our children and grandchildren, writing creatively, and taking advantage of opportunities to be spontaneous.

I also want to be proactive in other areas. Reducing my environmental impact is at the forefront of my plans. Growing fruit and veg, sustainable and mindful consumption, including trains-not-planes for foreign travel, will all feature in my retirement.

Flexible, fluid and free

The pandemic forced my team and me to work remotely. The shift to video conferencing has been the catalyst for taking my Will writing business from local to national. Business growth is partly responsible for bringing forward my retirement plans, but now I can work from anywhere. There’s no reason not to advantage of geographical freedom.

Peek at my web browser search history, and you’ll see it reads like a page on Autotrader: campervan sleeps 2; luxury auto-sleeper; low-mileage converted VW Transporter…

The liberty of van life appeals to me. I’m determined to try it out in 2023. This will be the unhurried first stage of a significant lifestyle change. I’m on the slip road to being a nomadic granny! I want to enjoy new adventures and discover places. My bucket list still runs to two pages!

While none of us can predict how long we’ll live, many of us will have twenty years or more in retirement. It’s almost 3,500 days until I can claim my full state pension. It will be a helpful addition to my income, but thankfully, it won’t be the bulk of it.

Money doesn’t make you happy. It’s an enabler. I’ve always viewed it in this way. I want to think that when I stop travelling, learning, reading, gardening, baking, and sewing, it will be because I can’t, rather than I can no longer afford to.

A comfortable retirement needs years of forward planning. This is true if you’ve marked a specific date on a calendar or are planning a gradual shift towards more leisure time like me.

Top tips

Here are my top tips for a brighter retirement:

  1. Planning is crucial. Speak to a qualified financial adviser. Get a cash flow forecast. Find out if you’re on track for the level of comfort you want. You may not know exactly what your retirement will look like, but you’ll have an idea about the minimum level of income you’ll need.
  2. If you want a comfortable life in retirement, you’ll need more income than the state pension.
  3. Pensions work on compound interest. Start saving into a pension as soon as you earn, so the pot has more time to grow. It might feel like a long way off, but the Which? organisation estimates you need a pension pot worth £757,000 to buy an income of £41,000 a year.
  4. Think carefully about the difference between needs and wants. Your spending doesn’t have to increase with every pay rise.
  5. Check your national insurance record to find out if you have any gaps: A financial adviser can help you work out if making voluntary contributions is worthwhile.
  6. Think about retirement as a gradual shift from work life to easier life. Phased retirement is likely to be easier to adjust to, emotionally and financially.
  7. When you pay into a pension, you get tax relief. Some of the money you would have paid in tax on your earnings goes into your pension pot rather than the government. Don’t say no to free money!


Words from the writer:

This article is an overview of my personal experience and perspective. It’s not financial advice. Since retraining as an estate planner, I’ve had the good fortune to work alongside knowledgeable and talented financial advisers, including Lena Patel, at ISJ Financial Planning. There’s no substitute for a personal review and bespoke advice about your financial circumstances.

If you’d like to know more about estate planning, Wills and Wills trusts or Lasting Powers of Attorney then please contact Donna direct via Carisma Wills

If you’d like to talk to me about your retirement plan then please feel free to book a no obligation discover call with me, Lena – HERE

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