26 July 2023

    Getting ready to retire: your last working decade

    Though there's no official retirement age in Aotearoa New Zealand, many people aim to hit full-time retirement when they gain access to Superannuation and KiwiSaver at age 65. Whether you've just turned 55 or you're planning an earlier (or later) retirement, the last decade before your hard-earned retirement is the most important to prepare for retired life. Though you should always carefully consider any major financial decisions and seek advice from an expert, we've got a few general tips worth thinking about.

    1. Check in on your KiwiSaver

    As you start getting into the last parts of your working life, the decisions you make on your KiwiSaver fund become even more important.

    Choosing the right fund

    In the decade leading up to your retirement, it’s a good time to reconsider the level of risk you're comfortable with in your investments. When there are still 20 or 30 years before you can access your KiwiSaver money, putting it all in an aggressive and riskier growth fund might be an easy decision, but your tolerance for risk can change significantly when that hard-earned money is nearly within reach.

    To work out your own risk tolerance, consider how much volatility you'd feel comfortable seeing in your investment. If the thought of your KiwiSaver balance fluctuating dramatically is too much to bear, then it might be worth reviewing your investment strategy.

    Completing our investor profile questionnaire for Fisher Funds KiwiSaver Scheme or Fisher Funds TWO KiwiSaver Scheme can help you choose which fund could be best for you. If you’re still not sure, it can be worth having a discussion with a financial adviser. Our friendly team can help you plan an investment strategy to take you into retirement.

    Making contributions

    The last decade before you retire often also tends to be the stretch of time in which your income is at its highest. If you've got some extra income, you could consider increasing your KiwiSaver contributions or setting up extra voluntary contributions.

    If you have switched to a more conservative fund, it may slow down the rate at which your balance ticks up, so chipping in a little extra when you can helps to keep your investment growing.

    2. Plan for retirement basics

    When you finally get within a decade of your retirement, it's time to start considering what your retired life will look like. Don't get too worried about the day-to-day — there's still plenty of time to work out exactly what you'll do with all your free-time — but it might be time to think about what your basic needs will be for the next few decades.


    As you approach retirement, it’s a good time to start thinking about your ideal living situation for the next few decades. If you're happy in your home, then staying put might still be the right idea for you for a while yet —especially if you've paid off your mortgage. For many, though, retirement can be an opportunity to relocate or downsize to a cosier home. If you're living in a big city, it may be worth considering moving to a nearby small town or looking for an apartment over a multi-room house. This can help keep your living costs down and leave you more money for the things you enjoy.


    The requirements for your living space aren't the only thing that'll change when it comes time to retire – there's a good chance that your healthcare needs and costs will go up over time as well. You or your partner could face an unexpected health complication, so take a look at your current health insurance to make sure it meets your needs, as well as the coverage available for more serious treatments.

    3. Pay down your debt

    Think about the costs you don’t want to have hanging over your head through retirement, including any debts you have that still need paying off – whether that's your mortgage, a car loan, or credit card debt. Where possible, you should work out a plan to pay down these debts over the next 10 years and give yourself one less thing to worry about when you retire. It might help to talk to a financial adviser to set you on the right track.

    4. Budget for your day-to-day

    What are you going to do with all that free time?

    It's an exciting question to consider, but it can also be overwhelming. The American Psychological Association recognises that, while some retirees will adjust easily to their retired life, others can struggle with a sense of loss, depression, or anxiety following such a big life change.

    A few years out from your retirement, take some time to make plans for what you want to do with all that time and your newfound freedom. Not only will this give you something to look forward to in retirement (and can help ease that transition), but it'll help set expectations and goals for your budget and how much you need to have saved. Taking a tour of all your favourite international golf courses, getting into wildlife photography, or catching up on all that missed Netflix are all options for your retirement, but some will cost a lot more than others (unless you get really, really good at wildlife photography).

    If you're unsure whether your KiwiSaver savings and NZ Super will be enough to fund the retirement you want, you can use our retirement projector to give you a rough estimate. You’ll also find the retirement projector by logging in to Fisher Funds Online – just click on the investment tools tab.

    A wealth of connection

    Keeping an eye on your financial well-being in the lead-up to your retirement is key, but your mental, social, and spiritual well-being are all important to manage as well. You could choose to volunteer or pick up a few hours of work locally, or seek out local community groups related to your interests.

    5. Look for a side hustle

    If you've done your retirement planning and are still unsure if you'll have enough to pay for it, you could take some time before you retire to look at possible passive income or side hustles. You don't want to be working 40 hours a week once you've retired, but there are plenty of ways you can make a little extra money on the side.

    You might try turning a hobby or craft, such as knitting or painting, into a small online business to earn a bit of cash. You could look at doing some consulting or freelancing in the field you've been working in or nab a shift at a local store you love for a few hours a week.

    Even if you've done all the planning and are feeling comfortable in your retirement, starting a small side hustle can keep you involved in your community, keep your mind active, or just give you something to work on each day.

    Want to learn more?

    When it comes to retirement planning, starting earlier is always better than leaving it to the last minute. Our friendly team is here to help get your retirement sorted - you can chat to us online, call us on 0508 347 437, or drop us an email.