They’ve had a hard time of it lately, with ‘OK, boomer’ entering the lexicon. But these couples and singles are happy to share family, financial and philanthropic advice to help others prosper.
The bank of mum and dad
John and Felicity Howarth, Melbourne
Doting Melbourne grandparents John and Felicity Howarth, both 66, are loving retirement, especially since their now 16-month-old granddaughter Ripley came along. “Retirement was already great, but she really puts the sparkle in it,” says Felicity, who retired from her job as a banking administrator six years ago. John says proudly: “She just started walking 10 days ago.” John built a walking trolley at the Melbourne Men’s Shed to help with those first steps. He retired eight years ago from a financial analyst role at BHP.
Financial and emotional support will be their legacy. Soon they will help their daughter and son-in-law by caring for Ripley two days a week. They have also contributed to house deposits for all three children, aged 34 to 38. “The bank of mum and dad is well and truly open,” John says with a laugh. “My parents gave us a hand and it was part of the expectation of me as a parent to do the best you can for your kids.”
Ripley features heavily in their legacy. “The world she is going to grow up in is completely different to the one I grew up in,” John says. “The only thing that we can do now while we’re here is make sure she’s safe, she’s loved. I want her to scrape her knee, fall down, get dirty and have the courage to explore and do all the things that the world can offer.”
Both John and Felicity are active in the grassroots bushfire charity, BlazeAid. “The old boy-scout adage of trying to do something good for someone every day – that’s what I try and do,” John says.
Choosing a charity
Wendy Allan, Sydney
Though hardly a corporate high-flyer, Wendy Allan, 74, is nonetheless destined to be a philanthropic retiree. A resident at a retirement village on Sydney’s northern beaches, Wendy trained as a nurse but worked mostly in specialists’ rooms as a nurse/secretary. An enthusiastic volunteer at the Cat Protection Society in Sydney’s inner west, Wendy has done shifts there for 11 years. “It really is a fabulous place; it’s full of love, full of care,” she says. “So, I’ve been very blessed … and I think every volunteer there would say the same.”
As well as working with staff she admires, and interacting with people of different ages, Wendy enjoys facilitating the socialisation of cats and kittens. “You can’t just sit at home and read; you have to get out and about and feel useful,” she says. Her legacy has been a long working life, and will be philanthropic: she plans to leave a significant portion of her estate to the Cat Protection Society.
“I was blessed to grow up in a stable community of caring people, a wonderful neighbourhood, with good friends, and strong positive influences through family, school and church,” she says. “That backdrop served me well when, from changes in my own family’s circumstances, I learnt that life is never really predictable.” The key lesson she learnt was that the fluctuations of life can make any of us, at any stage, more vulnerable. “But that amidst all of that, there is kindness, caring, concern and support from those around us.”
The best of both worlds
Didier Quintard and Jill Hearly-Quintard, Sydney
“Sometimes I wonder if she will ever stop,” says Didier Quintard, in his French accent. He’s talking about his Australian wife Jill, with whom he lives on Sydney’s northern beaches. Jill, 65, has been running her fitness business, Body and Balance Fitness and Wellness, since the mid-1980s. She is proud to be a boomer, and extremely proud of receiving recent fitness awards, despite two total hip replacements in the past 10 years. Is she always full of beans? “Well, that’s why I can’t sit down,” she quips. “I even stand at my computer.” And retirement? “My retirement will be when I’m dead.”
Didier, 60, left a well-paying corporate job a few years ago and works as a handyman. It hasn’t always been plain sailing. An investment home bought in Western Australia during the mining boom is worth less than they paid for it; another in Queensland has not increased in value. They own a home in France outright, and have a small mortgage on their Sydney home, which they offset by renting the flat beneath, and sometimes their own home, on Airbnb. Both want to work the gig economy for as long as possible, but also to travel, and enjoy the best of both worlds without formalising their retirement. They aim eventually to spend six months alternately in Australia and France. Jill has a son from a previous marriage, and they have a daughter together. Their will is drawn up in a 50-50 split between the children.
Didier and Jill recently celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary, and love is their legacy. “The secret is joy and to have fun and be the best of friends,” Jill says. “I couldn’t stand the idea of having someone who sits around and says: ‘Oh, I’m retired now.’”
A super-charged retirement
Caryn Hamilton, Sydney
After a working life spent caring for others as a psychiatric nurse, Caryn Hamilton, 65, figures she has earned her keep as a deliriously happy retiree. A healthy redundancy payout after almost 40 years of nursing, along with superannuation, the proceeds from the sale of a property bought with a former partner, and a tidy profit on the sale of her own house, have allowed her to upsize to a dream home in Sydney’s Hills district.
Caryn says her parents’ approach to work and money has affirmed her thinking about leaving a legacy. “I think they’ve instilled in me independence, a do-it-yourself attitude, work hard, pay off your house as quickly as you can and never buy anything unless you’ve got the money in the bank,” she says.
“I’ve got a credit card, but I pay it off every month. I’ve never been in debt, apart from having a mortgage. I have always eaten out but not lavishly.
“I’ve never been married, so therefore I’ve never been divorced. It’s getting divorced that’s the problem, because divorce takes your money.”
Caryn maximised her super contributions throughout her working life and now lives comfortably on the proceeds, paid to her as a fortnightly “wage”. So how does she pass the time? “I belong to four car clubs and do a lot of travelling with them,” she says. “I say to everybody you must have hobbies in your life … something outside of your job.”
As well as her passions for cars, film festivals, live theatre and parlour games such as Scrabble and mahjong, Caryn is a Francophile, and travels to France every year with friends. Does she ever miss work? “Oh God, no,” she says, emphatically.
And her financial legacy? “If there’s anything left after I enjoy the hell out of it, it will go to family,” she says.