Recently I wrote this article for the Money Magazine website:Many Australians are providing financial assistance to their adult children – in many cases, they are giving them money for home deposits, according to recent research from REST Industry Super.
REST also found that 46% of older working Australians expect to retire in debt, with one-fifth retiring with a mortgage.
So what options do retirees facing long-term mortgages have? Six things stand out:
1. If you do have super, use it to extinguish the debt on your own home. If the debt is on an investment property – do the numbers with your financial adviser. You may be able to carry the debt on and get a tax deduction against the revenue which may make it worth retaining.
2. Avoid giving your children anything beyond a good education. It weakens your own financial position (often we underestimate how long we will live and how much money we have); worse, it can weaken your own children in the long run. Like birds learning to fly, teach them how to save their first deposit – their financial ‘wings’ will be much stronger in the long run.
3. If you are living in or near Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane, consider selling up and moving somewhere where real estate is still not horrendously expensive, but you still have all the benefits of a city – for example Adelaide, my home city – where the homes are literally half the price of homes in Sydney. The medical service here is world class, and you can get around with ease. Another option, which some of my clients have done, is live overseas in various Asian countries. If you find this appealing, just remember to have a plan for your medical costs in that country.
4. Rather stay where you are? Close to kith and kin? Understandable. One option to consider is a reverse mortgage. Australians have not taken to reverse mortgages – it seems to go against our grain. But a reverse mortgage might allow you to continue living in your own home with a similar lifestyle. The reverse mortgage might be able to refinance your remaining debt if your super and other savings are inadequate. It is worth consideration – if you can tolerate the reduction in your own equity over time – but you can’t take it with you, can you?
5. The advent of Airbnb means that you might be able to let out a room in your home – or the granny flat you no longer need. Remember that you will have to declare that income – but you may be able to claim some of the loan interest (though this may make some of your home subject to capital gains tax).
6. Don’t retire too early. We’re living longer and, hopefully, are healthier. If you don’t like your old job, consider a new, perhaps part-time, career. It will be better for your wallet and better for your overall life outlook.