What to do if you’re 55 and have no retirement plan

Key takeaways

  • Strategies for fast tracking your retirement savings nest egg, such as debt elimination, additional super contributions and targeted investing.
  • How part-time work and delaying receipt of the Age Pension can boost your retirement income.

Retirement planning is one of those things that often gets pushed to the back burner. When you’re young, it’s easy to convince yourself that retirement is light years away and you’ve got plenty of time to figure it all out. But life has a habit of going by real fast and all of a sudden, you’re 55 (or thereabouts) and realise that retirement is just around the corner.

If this sounds like you and you’re now thinking, “I’m in my 50s and I have no retirement plan. What do I do now?”, first of all, take a deep breath. It’s not too late to start planning for your retirement.

Here, we’ll outline some steps you can take to secure your financial future.

1 – Assess your current financial situation

The first step in addressing your retirement concerns is to take a good, hard look at your current financial situation. You need to know where you currently stand before you can make a plan for where you’re going.

Gather all your financial statements, bank accounts, investment accounts and any debts you may have. Create a detailed budget to understand your monthly expenses and income. This will help you determine how much money you need to live comfortably in retirement. It might be a bit overwhelming at first but don’t worry; we’re in this together.

2 – Set clear retirement goals

Now that you have a grasp on your financial situation, it’s time to think about what you want your retirement to look like. Do you want to travel the world, start a new hobby or simply enjoy some well earned relaxation?

Having clear goals will not only motivate you to save but also give you a sense of purpose. It’s like having a roadmap for your retirement journey. Just remember that if you’re starting at 55, you might need to be a bit more realistic about your goals and adjust your expectations to match your savings.

3 – Start saving ASAP!

You may not have started saving for retirement in your 20s or 30s but that doesn’t mean it’s too late to begin. Contributing extra money into your super offers tax advantages that can help your savings grow faster.

Consider making catch-up contributions if you’re 50 or older and your super balance is below where it should be for someone of your age and income level. In fact, making extra contributions (within the cap limits, of course!) is a good idea whatever your age is.

Topping up your super fund with additional personal contributions can make a significant difference to your retirement nest egg over the next 10 to 15 years.

4 – Work on debt reduction

If you’re carrying a lot of debt, it can seriously hinder your ability to save for retirement. High-interest debt, like credit card balances, can eat away at your finances. Start by paying down your high-interest debts as quickly as possible. The sooner you get rid of those financial burdens, the more money you’ll have available to invest in your retirement accounts.

5 – Consider part-time work

Retirement doesn’t have to mean you stop working altogether. If you’re 55 and haven’t saved much for retirement, you might need to consider part-time work during your retirement years. It’s a great way to supplement your income while still having some free time to enjoy the things you love.

Part-time work may not decrease your monthly Age Pension payments when you reach Age Pension at 67. Plus, working can help keep you active and engaged in your community, which is excellent for your mental and physical health.

6 – Invest wisely

Once you’ve started saving, it’s essential to invest your money wisely. At 55, you may have a lower risk tolerance than someone in their 30s. You may want to consider investments that are a bit more conservative, such as bonds or dividend-paying shares, to protect your savings.

Diversify your portfolio to spread risk and aim for a balance that aligns with your retirement goals. It’s a good idea to consult with a financial adviser to make sure your investments are at the appropriate level for your age and financial objectives.

7 – Claiming the Age Pension

At age 67 you may be eligible to claim the Age Pension. An amount of your fortnightly employment income is not assessable for Age Pension means testing. This means you may be able to continue part-time work before the employment income will reduce your Age Pension entitlement.

8 – Downsize and cut expenses

If you haven’t saved as much as you’d like and your retirement goals are challenging to meet, it might be time to downsize your living situation and cut unnecessary expenses. Consider selling a larger home and moving into a smaller, more affordable one. Look for ways to trim your budget without sacrificing your quality of life.

9 – Seek professional advice

Finally, don’t hesitate to seek professional financial advice. A certified financial planner can help you create a tailored retirement plan that considers your specific financial situation and goals. They can provide guidance on investment strategies, tax planning, and how to make the most out of your retirement savings.


If you’re 55 and have no retirement plan, it’s not the end of the world. While you might feel that time is not on your side, taking action now can still make a significant difference to your financial future.

Assess your finances, set clear goals, save diligently, reduce debt and explore opportunities for additional income. With a well thought out plan and a little discipline and determination, you can enjoy a comfortable retirement despite starting a bit late in the game.

Remember, it’s never too late to take charge of your financial future to make the very most out of your golden years.

* Based on KPMG Super Insights 2023 Report as at May 2023 KPMG Super Insights 2023 Report

Source: MLC

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