Everyone has different ideas of how their retirement might ‘look’. How much super will be enough depends on many things, starting with what a ‘comfortable’ retirement looks like to you.
You might want to travel. You may want to dine out every week at a fancy new restaurant. You might just want to help your children and grandchildren. You might want a busy life. Or the chance to sit back and relax without any money worries.
Then there are one-off costs to think about, like a new car or a deposit on a retirement village. And you might need money for any health issues that happen in retirement.
Okay, how much super will be enough?
The important thing is to start thinking about all of this early on. Don’t wait until you’re 60. First, work out how much money you think you’re going to need in retirement. And then figure out how much superannuation is going to be enough to get you through a happy retirement.
There are lots of different ways to work out how much super will be enough for you in retirement, and lots of online calculators to help you.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC: www.asic.gov.au), for example, has done some number crunching. They estimate that by the age of 65, a single person who wants a ‘modest’ lifestyle (with annual living costs of $23,032), would need a lump sum of $300,000 (in today’s money).
For a ‘comfortable’ lifestyle (annual living costs of $41,830), they say you’ll need a lump sum of $544,000 by the age of 65. Couples will need a lump sum of $431,000 for a ‘modest’ retirement and $744,000 for a ‘comfortable’ retirement.
The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia’s Retirement Standard (www.superannuation.asn.au/resources/retirement-standard) has even higher lump sum figures. They say that to have a ‘comfortable’ retirement, single people will need $430,000 in retirement savings, and couples will need $500,000.
In 20 or 30 years, these numbers will look very different when you take the cost of living into account. However, the ‘Standard’ is updated four times a year to factor in the rising price of items like food and utility bills. It also looks at people’s changing lifestyle expectations and spending habits. Plus the costs of things like health, clothing, travel and household goods.
As the cost of living goes up each year and things get more expensive, the calculations for how much you’ll need in retirement are adjusted.
Can I rely on the Aged Pension?
If you’re thinking that you might be right with just the aged pension, here’s a scary thought: The current rate for the age pension is about 25% of the average weekly earnings (in 2013 the Australian Bureau of Statistics put this at $1,498.70). That won’t leave a lot for retirement lifestyle choices.
So to afford the life you’d like in retirement, you’ll need to put extra money into your super.
Make sure you check out our Superannuation Basics blog to see how this works from a tax perspective. Our blog covers all the Australian Tax Office rules and limits for how much you can add to your super.
Then, head to ASIC’s MoneySmart website (www.moneysmart.gov.au). Here you’ll find an online retirement planner. There’s even a section on how much super will be enough for you in retirement. Start working it out now!
Does it seem painful to put extra money into super? Most people find that after they start with a deduction from every pay, they can forget about it and it’s not noticeable.
Plus, extra super contributions can make the ‘numbers look nicer’ at tax return time, by reducing your taxable income.
More great articles about retirement and superannuation:
- What do I need to know about Superannuation?
- Do you have lost super waiting to be claimed?
- Do I need to lodge a tax return if I’m on an aged pension?