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Planning for Retirement continued
Thinking about retirement too late can cause problems

Along the way other opportunities may present; like, for instance, retirement schemes that claim to provide enduring security with less hassles; but for a price. One such scheme in Australia backfired disastrously; and those who paid up front in the belief that they were set for the rest of their lives came well and truly unstuck. The company promoting and managing the scheme went bust. It then came to light that they didn't actually own the residences their clients were living in; and the real owners either wanted them back, or were willing to sell to the occupants. Unfortunately, these retired people couldn't afford it, having spent their entire savings on the scheme. Now they are involved in court cases to avoid being evicted. It was a hard lesson to learn.

There are, of course, alternative ways to invest spare cash; unfortunately a few that may seem genuine turn out to be get-rich-quick scams. The fact is that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Trading in the share market might appeal to some; but you have to know what you are doing, and it can be a risky business. Generally for most people, preparing for retirement is a slow and steady process that often takes years; and there's a certain satisfaction in that. Endowment policies are an option; and these are paid for in reasonably small increments over a long period to be redeemed later on retirement; and can prove to be quite considerable sums.

It should also be remembered that health does deteriorate over time; and one day it may be realised that coping at home, even for couples, is becoming more difficult, sometimes impossible. Nursing homes are arguably a last resort unless constant medical attention is required; however, retirees who are still able to perform those basic functions like dressing themselves, cooking and doing some odd jobs about the place might consider sheltered accommodation. There are different levels of care included, depending on the type chosen. Retirement villages are usually a small gathering of residences in which residents retain independence while having the added security of trained nursing staff on hand. They pay regular visits to ensure all is well; and are on call should someone press the panic button if they need urgent assistance. Most of these villages also provide common rooms for residents to socialise; and this is something that those who have been living alone would definitely appreciate.

While buying one's own home may have been an early priority, a vague glimpse of a distant but future dream could have been brewing through the years of plodding in the workforce - that one-day thing shines as a just reward to make the lifelong struggle all worthwhile. Quite often the plan is to eventually go on the road and become grey nomads. The idea of spending remaining years travelling around the country has a definite appeal. With a Winnebago, a campervan or a caravan, they can go wherever they fancy; staying as long as they like, unconcerned about unpleasant neighbours which can be left behind by simply moving on somewhere else.

Retirement offers so many advantages that tend to be missed when leading young and busy lives; and everyone deserves that; but it isn't handed out on a plate. Even sitting on the veranda each evening watching the sun go down still costs, and the money has to have come from somewhere. Surprisingly, it doesn't need to be a fortune, as we ourselves have discovered; provided that expectations aren't too high and a moderate budget is adhered to.

The moment of truth is imagined to be the one at the end of our lives. I believe, however, that the real day of reckoning is when we reach retirement and only hope we've done enough to live out what's left in peace and comfort. Think about this and everything you need to do along the way to make it happen - but, for your own sake, don't leave it too long.

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