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Alternative channels of income for a pensioner

Just because you are old enough to retire doesn’t mean that life becomes one long holiday.

Sure, there’s government support to pay your fundamental costs, but with the age pension for a married couple being around $635 each per week, there’s barely enough money to cover the basics let alone enjoy retirement. Consider some of the most basic ongoing costs. If you have no mortgage on your house you will still have to pay the costs associated with being a home owner. Depending on where you live, council rates are an average of $25 per week and water rates average out at around $20 each week.

Home insurance averages $24 per week and a very basic phone service is the roughly the same amount. Gas and electricity run at an average of $65 per week while the minimum registration and car insurance costs are around $15 each week. Some state governments give a free vehicle registration to pensioners while others offer a 50 per cent reduction. There are still some insurance costs to pay regardless.

Should you choose to cover the costs of spectacles, dental visits and therapy by having private health insurance, you can add another $50 per week. A mobile phone and internet can cost you $30 per week. Add up these basic necessities and you’ll find the total is over $250 each week. That leaves approximately $380 for food, fuel and everything else from your aged pension. And if you don’t own your own home, rent will need to be factored into those expenses. Centrelink does offer some rental assistance money, but you will possibly have to contribute some of your own funds to cover any shortfall.

Should you sell or give away your assets?

The value of various owned assets can have an effect on your eligibility for a pension, and of course on the final figure you receive. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean offloading your assets is the best course of action. Generally, giving away assets will not have an immediate positive impact on your pension. The price of the asset you gift, to your next of kin for example, is still counted by Centrelink under the asset and income tests for a specific period of time. There is also a price cap on the value of an asset a person or couple can give away in one financial year. This currently stands at $10,000. It’s a good idea to check with Centrelink about the rules regarding the assets test limits before beginning the process.

“Planning for your retirement early will help to take away the fear of making ends meet on a limited income”

What about extra income?

If you have reached pension age and will not be earning any income from savings or investments, you are allowed to earn some additional money to supplement your pension. How much you can earn is easily found on the Centrelink websiteIf you are no longer able to continue in your previous employment in any capacity, there are numerous ways you can earn a little money to put towards the fun part of your retirement:

  • Put your name down to be an election official. Between federal, state and local elections, there is at least one held most years.
  • School crossing supervisors work during the school term for a short period each day.
  • Minding pets and children can also be lucrative, and will keep you on your toes.
  • TV, movie and film extras are always required and pay a daily rate.
  • If you’re a keen shopper, then perhaps you might consider mystery shopping. The amount you can earn depends on the assignment, but you may be testing out a hotel, buying goods or even eating in a restaurant.
  • Delivering catalogues and direct selling (such as Avon) can also keep you busy and earn a few dollars.

While there is much debate about increasing the pension qualifying age, these figures might scare you enough to now say, “I’m not going to stop working.” Planning for your retirement early will help to take away the fear of making ends meet on a limited income. But it’s never too late to start.

A simple household budget now (before you retire) can help you put some spare money into a savings account or help top up your superannuation. That will be a big boost in the future. And for those who have already retired? The same simple household budget will help take the stress out of meeting basic expenses and managing your money on a daily basis.