Working out how much money you’ll need to retire comfortably can be one of life’s most confronting tasks.
However, it doesn’t have to be difficult, and there are tools and techniques to help Australians plan well for life after work.
People can feel dejected hearing that million-plus may be required to retire comfortably, but advisers say it’s best to focus on income needs rather than lump sums.
Boutique Advisers strategic adviser Katie McDonald uses a “magic number” approach, where people examine their current lifestyle costs and work out the amount needed to cover that.
For example, 0,000 of income would require a million lump sum sitting in a balanced mix of investments earning 5 per cent. This does not factor in any age pension benefits or drawing down on the balance.
“The aim of investing for the future is to put yourself in a position where you don’t need to rely on the age pension,” Ms McDonald said.
“You need to start somewhere — most people are currently spending everything they earn.
“Work out how much you will need in retirement. Then work out the shortfall. Look for areas in your current budget where you can trim back and put this into an investment — most likely super.”
Compare super funds
Most retirees receive some pension, and the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia’s respected ASFA retirement standard includes pension impacts.
ASFA says a couple currently needs 6,548 of annual income to retire comfortably while a single needs 0,798. Assuming people will receive a part pension and gradually draw down all of their assets, couples need a lump sum of 40,000 and singles 45,000, it says.
Certified financial planner Patrick Canion said very few people had an idea of the size of nest egg they would need when they retired.
“It’s much better to bring it right down and say how much money do you need every week or fortnight,” he said. “People like to think in small amounts.”
Mr Canion suggested people use the government’s moneysmart.gov.au super and retirement calculators to project their future wealth.
“You can be simple, or fiddle around with it, and have no worries they’re going to try and sell you anything,” he said.
“But it’s one thing to know the number — it’s another thing to do it. The maths aren’t complicated, it’s the implementation.”
Seeking good advice around diversification, asset allocation and pension planning would help, Mr Canion said.
Ms McDonald said people should also look at superannuation incentives such as the co-contribution scheme or the new catch-up contribution rules.