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How much is enough in retirement?

How much do you need in retirement

It’s easy to dream about your retirement and imagine it to be a revolving door of overseas holidays, home renovations or simply spending more time with your friends and family.

However, the reality is that many people’s savings are unlikely to match their ideal retirement lifestyle unless they take action as early as possible.

When you retire, your superannuation, assets and other investments are your lifeline. You no longer have a regular salary coming in and you rely on these savings to fund your day-to-day living expenses. This, along with the increasing cost of goods and services, means that retirement can be a daunting prospect for many.

So how much is enough to sustain a life beyond employment? It’s difficult to know exactly how much you’ll need to fund your retirement but, the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) attempts to provide a clearer picture of what this may look like.

Firstly, how much are you likely to spend?

Are you thinking of a more modest lifestyle, or a comfortable one?

A comfortable lifestyle includes extra items that are considered to be ‘comforts’, such as updating the kitchen or bathroom, eating out from time-to-time, entertaining at home, having private health insurance at the top rate, enjoying an occasional overseas holiday and being able to afford to buy nice clothes and gifts.

The ASFA Retirement Standard compares the two, to provide a picture of how much you’re likely to need.









Weekly spend





Table 1: Weekly spend – modest versus comfortable lifestyle. 
Source: ASFA Retirement Standard, June 2018

Note: Single calculations are based on a female who is relatively healthy and owns her own home.

For a couple to maintain a modest lifestyle in retirement, it’s estimated they’ll likely spend around $755 per week compared to a couple who wish to live a comfortable lifestyle who are likely to spend almost double that, at around $1,161 per week.

But remember, a comfortable retirement isn’t a luxurious retirement. For example, the comfortable retirement figures for a couple only allow an amount of $267 per week for leisure and that includes saving for holidays.

Also, both weekly budgets assume that the home is owned outright so it doesn’t include the cost of rent or mortgage repayments.

What about the age pension?

As shown in table 2, if you’re relying on the age pension and, like most of us, are planning on a comfortable lifestyle in retirement, you’ll have a gap of $359.75 per week ($822.85 - $463.10).

Maximum age pension (weekly)





Table 2: Current maximum basic Centrelink age pension rate.
Source: Centrelink 20 September 2018

How much do you need to save?

That’s the question on everyone’s mind. The ASFA Retirement Standard suggests the lump sum amount required for a single person to support a comfortable lifestyle is just over half a million dollars. Don’t forget, this is on top of your principal home.

To support comfortable lifestyle for a:

You’ll likely need a lump sum of:





Table 3: Lump sums required. 
Source: ASFA Retirement Standard

Note: assumes receipt of part age pension

How much super you’ll really have over 30 years

Contribution levels

Wage of $30,000

Wage of $50,000

Wage of $100,000

9% contributions




12% contributions




Table 4: Superannuation lump sums at rate of salary

Note: Investment earnings taxed at current rates. Lump sum retirement benefits are estimates calculated after 30 years in a taxed fund.

If you compare the amounts in table 3 with the superannuation lump sum amounts in table 4, you’ll see that there’s a gap. For example, a 35 year old earning $100,000 pa, receiving super contributions of approximately 9 per cent for 30 years, is unlikely to meet the lump sum bench mark for a comfortable retirement.

However, if the same 35 year old takes action now and starts contributing an extra $3,000 per year to super (ie an extra 3 per cent per year making the total contribution amount 12 per cent) they could reach or even exceed the current benchmark set by ASFA.

If you’re worried about your retirement saving, or looking to make the most of your golden years, talk to our P&N Financial Planning team to see how we can help you get ahead and reach your retirement savings goals.

The information contained on this page has been prepared by Bridges Financial Services Pty Limited (Bridges). ABN 60 003 474 977. ASX Participant. AFSL 240837 for Police & Nurses Financial Planning Pty Ltd (P&N Financial Planning) ABN 21 009 245 194 AFSL 237507. P&N Financial Planning is a related entity of, but not guaranteed by, Police & Nurses Limited (P&N Bank) ABN 69 087 651 876 AFSL/Australian Credit Licence 240701. P&N Financial Planning is the provider of financial advice services. Services provided by P&N Financial Planning are provided on its own account and not on behalf of P&N Bank and P&N Bank does not endorse or take responsibility for any services provided by P&N Financial Planning. P&N Financial Planning is not an authorised deposit-taking institution and, unless you acquire a P&N Bank product as a consequence of a recommendation made by P&N Financial Planning, monies invested with or through P&N Financial Planning are not a deposit with or liability of P&N Bank. P&N Bank refers customers to P&N Financial Planning only and is not liable for any loss, damage or liability of any kind arising from services provided by P&N Financial Planning. This page is not designed for the purpose of providing personal financial or investment advice. Any advice given is general only and does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Please therefore consider whether it is appropriate for you. You should consider talking to a financial adviser before making a financial decision.

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