A youthful dream to study midwifery in Edinburgh may have been sidelined when she began her family, but for Christine Durant, the urge to travel has remained strong throughout her life.
Over the years Chris and husband Trevor, of Coffs Harbour, have enjoyed a number of trips, from cruises around New Zealand to tours through Europe.
Accustomed to a lifestyle that included travel, takeaway and plenty of nice wine, the Durant’s were acutely aware that their retirement would in no way be able to indulge these luxuries. With no retirement plan, a mortgage still outstanding and little super, Chris admits their plan was to just keep on working:
“We didn’t want to compromise our lifestyle, and we knew the pension would not go far at all, so I was going to have to keep working until I was 70 if it meant being able to continue travelling and enjoying life.”
But with both Chris and Trevor working in aged care, the physical, and mental, demands of work were becoming onerous. Deterred by the cost of visiting a financial planner, the Durant’s were intent on managing their own retirement plans, however two years ago with their retirement age looming they made the decision to visit Invest Blue’s Financial Planner, Tom Merrick.
That small cost of engaging Tom has since been recouped ten-fold, with the Durant’s now on a comfortable financial path into their retirement, one that still facilitates priorities such as travel.
Tom swiftly consolidated the Durants’ debt, reviewed their super contributions and helped them manage a budget and some money received through inheritance.
While Chris admits the couple tended to be wasteful with money – spending too much on takeaway and going out – she can now see how important a budget is.
“You come out of Tom’s office feeling so positive, he’s so calm and reassuring, and the way he can show us comprehensively on a big screen our financial positions and budgets really helped us get our head around it all.”
Rather than working into their 70’s, Tom restructured Chris and Trevor’s financial plan so they could both retire at 66.
Within the first twelve months of seeing Tom, the couple had paid off their significant credit card debt plus their car, with a renewed aim of retiring with their mortgage paid. For the following 12 months, the couple, who both worked in aged care, contributed half their income into their super in readiness for retirement.
Still living comfortably, even enjoying a trip to Europe during that time, their new budget did, however, sacrifice much of the dining out and takeaway enjoyed previously.
But it wasn’t just their bank balance than benefited. Chris has lost over 20 kilograms since her new well-budgeted lifestyle, she’s had cataract surgery and shoulder reconstruction and has never felt better. And while her physical health is in top condition, so too is her financial health.
Six months ago, at 65 and a half, Chris and Trevor paid off their mortgage.
“We went into Chris’s office and he simply asked, ‘Do you want to retire?’ – I never thought we would have measures in place to enjoy our retirement or even have a choice, it’s all been so simple.”
With Tom having turned around the Durants’ financial prospects in just two short years, their only regret now is that they didn’t engage him years earlier.
Tom organised all the paperwork for the couple’s Age Pension, which they recently started receiving, and has assured the couple that there will still be money in the bank when they’re 90.
Chris laughs that if she lasts that long she’ll be more than happy. Relieved that they no longer have to continue working into their old age, both are embracing their recent retirement with gusto. Walking twice a day and inspired by their recent weight loss, Chris laughs that she feels so good she could probably actually go back to work.
Their budget allows for one trip a year, and they still manage a weekly Thursday evening meal out, with Chris surprised at how well she’s now able to stick to her budget.
Shortly the couple will embark on a cruise around New Zealand, and in February they’re off on another cruise from Sydney to Perth.
“Once you go on your first cruise it just sucks you in! We’ve done numerous cruises around Australia, New Zealand and the Mediterranean and we can’t get enough of them, they’re just so relaxing.”
A trip to visit their son in Broome is also on the agenda for 2020, with the couple enjoying full financial confidence make their bookings.
“We feel so lucky we can still enjoy our lifestyle, particularly when we see so many people our age struggling or being ripped-off – and that very easily could have been us.”
Fit, healthy and with a new lease on life, the Durant’s have now welcomed their retirement with confidence and excitement, and without having to sacrifice some of the little life luxuries they’ve grown to enjoy.
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