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THE FOURTH and final stage of financial living typically occurs after one has reached 60 years of age. It is a very difficult stage to attain fully and most people do not achieve it. Let us start by examining some of the markers of this stage: • Mortgage on home paid off. • Retirement fully funded. • Discretion in being in a position to retire early. • Well planned legacy/estate and last will in order. • Lifestyle of choice within means. • Ability to live off passive income. • Capacity to give back of your time, skills, resources and money. • Health care plan in place. The age 60 years old is just an average for the stage. Reaching 60 years old is no indication of reaching the stage by itself; the ability to tick off five or more of the markers says you are at this stage or on the cusp of getting there. Some people attain this stage while they are younger, others while they are older. The majority of people do not attain it at all. Fourth stage financial living depends on relatively successful passage through the first three stages. Most people who do reach third stage financial living never get further, mainly because they do not plan their estate and get their will in order, have no interest in giving back and cannot afford to live off their passive income. Typically, the fourth stage of financial living is when the signs of ageing start to show; there is physical frailty; and cognitive and multiple health problems may come to the fore. The potential fourth stage financial person may end up needing significant health or institutional care. Some people die before they even get out of first stage financial living; that may be at a ripe old age, too. Similarly, some people never get past the debt traps of second stage living. The average person hovers between second and third, yet few of those actually make it fully into fourth stage financial living. Here, therefore, are five key pointers to reaching that final frontier: 1. During the third stage, carefully examine your values and start planning your retirement lifestyle to suit your values and means. Eventually, sticking to your plan, the mortgage on your home will be paid and your retirement will be adequately funded. 2. Have a specific volunteering/charitable giving plan that reflects your life values; this will provide significant spiritual capital and self-satisfaction in the value of your life by helping others. Executing this will probably be the most definitive marker of fourth stage financial living. 3. Plan your legacy/estate in detail. Seek professional help where necessary; having passed through the other stages successfully, your estate should be relatively substantial. Prepare and register your last will and testament; review your will annually or at least biennially. 4. Try to live off of your interest and dividend income. Failing that, work on protecting your capital investments. You do not know how long you may live. 5. Prepare a living will and set aside a reasonable funding for your projected health care needs. The final marker: fourth stage financial people die tidily – with their affairs in order. • Louise Fairsave is a personal financial management advisor, providing practical counsel on money and estate matters. Her advice is general in nature; readers should seek personal counsel about their specific circumstances.