Taking stock in a turbulent year

Diane Maxwell

By Retirement Commissioner Diane Maxwell

2016 has been an unusual year with some of our assumptions about the world turned upside-down. 

Looking back over these columns we've covered many subjects: diversification and the need to spread your risk; ‘right-sizing’ which may include living in a retirement village; the importance of the 'buffer', that pot of savings that keeps you going when the unexpected happens.

This time last year we talked about the pressure many grandparents feel at Christmas to spoil grandchildren, which can be a challenge on a fixed income.

The message on that front hasn't changed: you, your time, your involvement in their lives, is worth more than any stack of presents.

Today versus tomorrow

Recently the Commission hosted 48 countries in Auckland for an OECD event, themed ‘Today versus Tomorrow’.

It was a great time to step back, take stock, and think long-term, which we often don't do because everything today seems so urgent and everybody seems so busy!

We are not alone.

What struck me during the forum was just how similar our challenges are across 48 countries: life is getting faster, social media is keeping many young (and old) connected to the world, but more disconnected from each other.

Stand at any bus stop, mall or café and you see people sitting together, eyes glued to their phone, communicating with everyone and no-one.

During a power cut last year we sang songs by candle-light.

After our teenage daughter stopped panicking that there was no wifi, she had a great time.

I’m planning to use the Christmas break as one giant power cut: put the gadgets away, get outside, remember how to make up games, be bored, listen to the wind and feel the sun.

Sounds cheesy but it’s the plan, and I think seniors are best placed to lead the charge in how to have fun the old-fashioned way!

Editor's note: Views of contributors are not necessarily those of the Office for Seniors