Think of what your retirement might look like.
Is it escaping winter every year to travel? Maybe it’s sitting on a portfolio of investment properties that pull in a tidy income or do you see yourself having the luxury to visit family and friends a lot more than you do now?
When Mike and Janine Cooper were asked that question they literally had no idea. All they could muster was a fairly generic answer: ‘We want to be comfortable.’
Comfortable is like telling your primary school teacher you want to have money when you grow up. Janine says: “I don’t think we ever had a picture of what retirement looked like. It was just something that you did at some point and we just wanted to be comfortable.”
It was a question that threw them off guard because Janine and Mike felt they had things under control. They were doing pretty well thank you very much. They met and fell in love in 2005 after being set up by Janine’s boss at a Christmas party.
Financially it was also a great union as they bought a home in Auckland’s Onehunga, had a rental property north of the Harbour Bridge that Mike had previously owned and Janine had invested a small nest egg she amassed after living in the United States for 10 years.
Plus they both had good steady incomes in jobs that they both enjoyed.
Mike, 52, is an automation engineer. You know when you swipe your groceries at the self service checkouts, that’s the kind of thing that he’s behind in his day to day office life. “I hadn’t joined KiwiSaver, thought there was plenty of time. You always think there’s plenty of time to get your retirement assets going but it’s never too early,” he says.
It was during a trip to the mall in 2014 that Janine, with her boys Jacob and Ryan in tow, saw a SurePlan stand about retirement planning. They took a punt and wanted to know more.
Up until then Janine, 50, says life had been ‘bumbling along”. They couple admit their finances were messy, they had no budget as such, but they were getting by. “We were not top of the line spenders, but we were lucky that our jobs meant we could have what we wanted,” she says.
When Janine, a psychotherapist, had her boys, they went down to one income and the brakes went on their spending. It gave them pause for thought on their financial future.
Life is never plain sailing. The Coopers have had their fair share of setbacks. Mike cheekily admits he has an unhealthy obsession with motorbikes – more specifically his Italian designed and manufactured Moto Guzzi. He’s a fairly reserved guy – Janine is the more vivacious of the pair – but get him talking about motorbikes and his eyes light up.
Even a motorcycle accident years ago hasn’t kept him away from his passion. He rode 14,000km across the United States with a mate last year – riding it one-handed.
For Janine, her greatest challenge came in having the first of her two boys. Born six weeks premature, Jacob’s arrival had her and Mike worried. “It puts you on high alert for a long time and he was fine and we were lucky but it does have this subtle flow on effect,” she says. Jacob’s recently turned 11 but his birth is a hurdle that the family had to climb and recover from slowly.
Their punt on SurePlan was about to inject some new and exciting twists into their lives but first they had to confront some harsh financial realities.
What exactly were they doing with their hard earned cash every week?
“We had to do a budget on what we spent on everything! Most people do a budget on food, power, water but this was like how much do you spend at the hairdresser, how much do you spend on shoes, how much do you spend on clothes, how much do you spend on sport, kids? There were 80 line items on this budget!”
“Then what was more confronting was when they said: ‘What do you want to do in your retirement? How do you want to live?’ The detail was intense but really it gave me lots of security,” says Janine.
If SurePlan was putting that much detail into finding out about the Cooper’s finances, plans and budgets then she was confident they had just bought the right team into their lives.
“It was like yahoo! It felt like a real grown up thing…like meeting you Mike,” she teases her husband.
Another Mike came into her life, SurePlan’s Senior Estate and Financial Adviser, Mike Allen.
When they first met him, they were nervous.
Their initial meeting was in their own home with the company’s Client Development Manager Gareth Dormon. “Then we had to go in to see Mike and it was like going in front of the school headmaster…but man, he knocks your socks off with his knowledge,” says Janine.
Actually she admits Mike is probably the most approachable person you could meet in the financial world. The way she talks about him, it’s like she’s talking about family. In fact, the Coopers talk of how they rarely see Mike now they’re on their path to a retirement and you get the sense they’re disappointed and itching to find a new financial venture to run past him.
“It’s always nice to have the Mike seal of approval,” says Janine.
So what does their vision of retirement look like now they’ve had SurePlan working with them for more than four years?
“We are now mortgage free and have two/three rental properties and I think, wow how did all that come about?,” says Janine. Mike adds that SurePlan has given them the confidence to go forward with the property portfolio – helping bring them potential investments in the process.
Such is the level of detail and research that SurePlan provided for them that they almost thought it was too good to be true. “But (SurePlan) was always upfront with pricing and ultimately it was our money we were risking,” Janine says.
But there was one was investment that has never quite got the Mike seal of approval. They Coopers are recent proud owners of a second hand four berth campervan that gives them the freedom for family adventures whenever they feel the wanderlust.
When they hit the open road, it’s like brush strokes forming that picture of how Janine and Mike want their future to look. Because when they venture out with their boys, when ever it takes their fancy, they know their retirement now has a clearer definition than just being comfortable.
Find out what we can do for you and your family here. Better yet, make a move and contact us to see if you can also gain financial clarity.