'My retirement story'

Interview with Ross Neller
May 2018

Ross Neller living the dream in retirement managing his finger lime farm.

Last month we caught up with one of our recently retired clients, Ross, to see what he’s been up to. Ross retired just before Christmas 2016 with a view to start the new year as the freshest member to the retirement club. Whilst Ross retired from full time work, his view of retirement was different from others whereby he wanted to spend more time focusing on a hobby and helping it to grow into a business.
We asked Ross a series of short questions about his retirement experience, click here to see what he had to say.
What I wish I knew about retirement

Q: When did you decide was a good time to retire?
For me, the time simply just felt right. I was ready to turn my hobby into something more and needed more than just the weekends to achieve this.

Q: What were you most looking forward to?
Spending more time with family was number one on the list. Then there was the list of jobs around the house that had been slowly accumulating over the years, which I was looking forward to catching up on. We also had a couple of holidays planned, the first was to South Australia and included a trip on The Ghan. We flew up to Darwin and caught the train back to Adelaide, then continued around South Australia. The second holiday was a Ski trip to Perisher. That one did not quite go to plan as I took a tumble on the second day, injured my knee and spent too much time on the sidelines.
Naturally I was also looking forward to the extra time that would be available for me to spend working on the finger lime farm.

Q: Did you have an idea of what your days would look like post retirement?
I envisioned my days in retirement to consist of waking up to perfect weather every day, setting off to do some work on the finger limes for 5-6 hours then spending the rest of my free time relaxing, helping family, catching up on other jobs around the house and planning holidays to go on.

Q: What has turned out to be your ‘retirement reality’?

One job lead to another, from the planned home renovations to the unexpected interruptions and setbacks (i.e. termite problems that needed immediate attention and an injured knee definitely weren’t apart of the plan), lets just say this kept me busier than expected. The ‘free time’ to enjoy my hobby turned into 16hr days at times and the ‘relaxing time’ with family, well, happily I have been able to help out more where possible and it has been fantastic to be able to do this.  Overall my workload expectations proved unrealistic as I had not really allowed time for things from left field. I know that I am not the first person to say this, but I am so busy now that I do not know how I had time to go to work.

Q: If you knew one piece of advice going into retirement, what would it be?

  •  Always plan for the ‘what if’ scenarios. Even if you have a financial plan, there will still be those unexpected events that surface (like the extra tools and equipment that need purchasing, pest control expenses due to discovering termites in the walls) or car repairs.
  • Have a buffer that isn’t too tight
  • Some things will take priority and everything else will simply move down the list

Q: What do you miss most about not working, and have you (or are you looking to) replicate this gap in your retirement?
I certainly miss the day to day interactions with work colleagues. Once retired, maintaining relationships and catching up with people requires much more effort.

Q: How have you managed your finances in retirement? Any handy hint or tips that you would like to pass onto others?
Rather than a structured budget, my wife Christine and I take an ‘only buy what you need’ approach. This has worked for us as we are both disciplined savers and extremely conscious of what we are spending. One process we have in place that has helped to ensure we’re on track thus far is the once a year snapshot where Christine and I sit down (usually with a glass of wine) and review the past year. We look at what we have spent, how we are tracking and if we need to make any adjustments.
My tip is to try and live off your retirement budget, before you’re actually in retirement. It can give you peace of mind that you understand your living expenses and gives you time to make adjustments to your budget/spending.

Q: What did you wish you had known going into retirement?
My perception of retirement was that I would have all the time in the world… but I couldn’t have been more wrong. I well and truly underestimated how quickly the days go by. I planned to spend more time with family and friends but the unexpected events initially took a fair bit of extra time that I had not counted on.

Q: Were there any other aspects that helped to shape your planned retirement?
One of the aspects that I personally was quite conscious of and which definitely played a role in shaping my retirement falls on the health side of things. Knowing how quickly the years slip by I wanted to make sure that I was still in good health to be able to enjoy myself, have the energy to work on the finger limes and be able to travel each year in our caravan.