1. Set up a spending planFinancial adviser Greg Pride of Centric Wealth says it takes 12 to 18 months for new spending patterns to become established, so take the time to consider how your expenses are likely to change in retirement.
"Some things such as electricity and gas may remain constant, but others such as your commuting costs and clothing will change," he advises.
A handy tool for assessing your retirement finances, says Pride, is the superannuation industry body ASFA's Retirement Standard, updated quarterly to reflect the changing cost of living in retirement.
ASFA estimates that to enjoy a 'comfortable' lifestyle, a retiree couple will need an annual budget of $61,786, while singles will need roughly $43,787 (based on September quarter 2019).
2. Create an income streamDiversification is key to ensuring a steady retirement income. In addition to the government pension, income in retirement can come from a range of options including a share portfolio, property investment, an account-based pension (which is paid from your superannuation) and annuities.
If the safety of a level of stable income appeals to you, annuities can be a good option.
An annuity is a financial product available through super funds or insurance companies, which pays you a guaranteed income for a set period or for life.
The benefit of annuities is that you know you will receive a guaranteed income stream for a chosen term or as long as you live, to be paid out monthly, quarterly, half-yearly or annually.
3. Protect your retirement savingsManaging your money when you're retired may require a different approach to when you were working.
With retirement comes unpredictability — the rising cost of living and share market fluctuations can impact your retirement income in unforeseen ways, so it's important to protect against negative outcomes.
"If you follow the basic investment principles of diversification and asset allocation — where you structure your investment portfolio to have both growth assets and defensive assets — you can protect yourself against most scenarios," Pride says.
However, protecting essential spending requirements with a layer of highly secure or guaranteed income can provide even more certainty in terms of retirement income outcomes.
There are many ways you can set up your retirement income plan.
A good place to start is by figuring out where your retirement comfort zone might be — that is, how comfortable you are with the way you receive an income, how easily you can access your money if you need it, and the way it's invested.
4. Plan for the long term
As life spans continue to rise, it's more important than ever to ensure retirement income lasts a lifetime.
"Some form of review mechanism is important," advises Pride, "whereby you look at what's happening in the world and adjust your asset allocation accordingly.
"The best way to plan for the long term is with a realistic spending plan, a disciplined adjustment process and sound investment principles up front."
5. Seek professional advice
Whatever option or combination of options you decide, it's always important to speak with your financial adviser about your retirement goals and the pros and cons of each decision.