Money is not always the easiest topic to talk about. But as you move from potentially having a regular paycheck from work and transition into retirement, it’s more important than ever. By understanding your finances, you can ensure you’re making the right decisions to live within your means and feel in control for many years to come, while minimising ending up in financial hardship.

A comfortable retirement looks different to every person. No matter what your financial goals are, here are the important factors to get right to give you a solid foundation towards financial wellness.

Understand your entitlements

Depending on your age and whether you meet other criteria, you may be eligible for the aged pension in Australia. But even if you’re not, you may qualify for other entitlements, like a seniors card—which gets a range of discounts—plus discounted travel, medication, or even water and council rates.

Set a budget

You may be well versed at tracking your incoming and outgoing finances, or you may have never given it too much thought before. But the first step to keeping on top of your finances is understanding exactly what you have, what’s coming in, and what’s going out. If you haven’t done it before, retirement is a great time to start a budget. An easy way to do this is by using the Australian Government’s free Money Smart budget planner.

Find ways to save

To help your money go further, find clever ways to minimise how much you spend. Make the most of special offers and deals at the grocery store. Call around to ensure you’re getting the best deal on your utilities and insurance. And cutting down your expenses doesn’t have to mean stopping all the things you enjoy. Look for free or cheaper versions of the things you love doing. You could find savings by going out to a show or for dinner on a weeknight instead of a weekend, go on trips away during quieter periods and shoulder seasons, and stock up on your favourite things only when they’re on sale.

Get advice

Feel like you need a bit of help, and want to get a bit of professional advice about your personal finances? There are plenty of free financial counselling services available. A number of not-for-profit community organisations offer free and confidential financial counselling, while your bank may also offer free financial advice. Be wary of financial counsellors that charge fees for their services – they may be debt consolidation and refinancing companies.