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From Super to Retirement – How Much Super Do You Need to Retire?

Financial Framework Superannuation What you have versus what you need image.jpgWhatever your age or stage of your career, it’s never too early to plan for retirement.

After all, you don’t want to work forever. As you look forward to the golden years, however, there’s a big question that’s important to answer:

 

How much super do you need to retire?

Let’s look at what the average Australian super at retirement looks like, and help you gain a better understanding of how much super you need to retire.

Do you really need Super to retire?

Superannuation is likely to be one of your biggest assets. It seems intangible, so it’s easy to forget that it’s your money. Just like your bank account, you should know its balance. Instead, super is often neglected until you start thinking seriously about retirement.

There are differences among Australians based on age, as well. The Superannuation Guarantee was introduced in 1992, so those in their 50s may have worked a few years before super became a given. Whatever your age, it’s likely that you’ll be relying on your super to help finance your retirement.

Added to that is the fact that the government has been putting the squeeze on super over the past few years, by lowering support for the age pension and increasing compulsory superannuation rates.

As a result, for most people the answer to the question: Do you really need super to retire? Is “Yes.” In fact, the importance of super at retirement is growing for the average Australian. But is the performance of super improving?

Is the average Australian super balance at retirement improving?

The most recent data appears to indicate “No.”

In 2016, the average Australian super at retirement was $270,710 for men and $157,050 for women, according to the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA). In 2014, it was actually higher, which indicates that over this period of time the average Australian’s Super at retirement was on the decline.

In March of 2021, ASFA released a study showing that the proportion of the population with superannuation drops sharply with increasing age. Statistics showed that 80 per cent of people aged 60 and over who died in the period 2014 to 2018 had no super at all in the period of up to four years before their death. It also stated that for those aged 80 plus, over 90 per cent had no super in the four-year period before their death.

Added to that is the fact that Australia has one of the highest life expectancies in the world, with women living longer than men. The study showed that men are more likely to have superannuation than women. For those who died in the period 2014 to 2018, only 15 per cent of females aged 60 plus at death had any superannuation compared to around 25 per cent of men.

These new statistics are alarming when one considers retiring comfortably, so most people would like to have a little more money saved to help live a comfortable retirement.

Which begs the next question.

How much super do you need to retire?

According to Alison Banney at Finder.com.au, most Gen Xers (those born during the 1960s and 1970s) believe they’ll need around $1.5 to $1.7 million to retire, yet their super balances don’t reflect this (see the table below). You’ll often hear that $1 million is the magic number.

However, ASFA have some less frightening figures. They state the average Australian super at retirement could be $640,000 for a couple and $545,000 for a single person. This would lead to a “comfortable” retirement, although “comfortable” is open to interpretation.

When should you start thinking about how much super

In the ideal world, everyone starts thinking about their super from their first day of employment. That’s not always the reality. But certainly you need to start considering your super well before approaching retirement.

Typically, people start to think about retirement in their mid 40’s, including how much super is required to retire. Whether you’re that age, or older or younger, it’s always a good time to start thinking about your super. 

If you haven’t been able to focus on your super before, then you should by the time you reach your early 50s. That includes the possibility of increasing your contributions, if you can. At this stage, you’ve still got around 10 years of work left ahead of you, and you’re hopefully financially secure enough to start adding to your retirement nest egg.

What’s the average Australian super at retirement in today’s dollars?

To put things into perspective, let’s look at some of the average balances for different age groups and see how you compare as of right now:

Age

Males

Females

40 -44

$134,992

$98,572

45 – 49

$182,146

$127,687

50 – 54

$242,007

$159,188

55 – 59

$311,163

$207,254

https://www.superannuation.asn.au/ArticleDocuments/359/2006-Experience-to-date-with-the-early-release-of-superannuation.pdf.aspx?Embed=Y

It’s important to note these are averages, and you don’t need to aim for this balance. If you’d like, we can help with some strategies to help you build up your super.

What’s needed for the average Australian super at retirement?

We believe what you need at retirement is individual to you. The desired figure will take into account how you want to spend your retirement, where you want to live and how long you think you’ll be in retirement. That’s why we don’t believe there can be an exact figure. It depends on your unique circumstances.

Research says that most Gen Xers (once again, those born during the 1960s and 1970s) want to retire at 63 but don’t think they can until they’re 72. If you check that table again, you can see that retirement may indeed come later than desired.

But that doesn’t mean it can’t still happen when you want. We can help you look at ways to build up your super and make your retirement goals a reality. This could involve looking outside of your super to see what other assets or opportunities you might have to work towards a comfortable retirement for you.

For example, you could look at whether it’s better for you to focus on investing more money into your super, or whether you should focus on paying down your mortgage. To find out more about this topic you can download our Super V Mortgage guide here for some thoughts on which might be the right option for you. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us below.

 

It is very important that you understand that the information above is general in nature and does not take into account your personal situation. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs, and where appropriate, seek professional advice from a financial adviser. It is also worth noting that the Australian financial and taxation system is ever changing, and the information above may no longer be relevant. Again, we suggest seeking professional advice from a financial adviser before proceeding.

 

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