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How much do you need to retire? Posted on October 9, 2018

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There are other considerations of course, but for the most part the focus will be on finances when people aim to “improve” their post-work life prospects.

The question of how much retirement savings any particular person needs to squirrel away to be able to live to their expectations in their golden years is made all the more complicated by several unknown factors. No-one knows, for example, how long they will live or what medical necessities could surface to strain the coffers.

Some guidance is available however from the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA), which releases a “retirement standard” every quarter. This is a benchmark for the annual budget needed by Australian individuals and couples to fund either a “comfortable” or “modest” standard of living in their post-work years.

The updated quarterly figures to reflect inflation and provide an objective outline of the budgets that singles and couples would need to spend to support their chosen lifestyle.

The latest release, for the December 2015 quarter, show that a fund balance needed at retirement (that is, the total saved in your fund when you retire) are:

Comfortable lifestyle: Couple $640,000, Single $545,000

Modest lifestyle: Couple $35,000, Single $50,000

These lump sums assume the retirees will draw down all their capital. Also assumed is that retirees own their own home, are relatively healthy, and will receive part or full Age Pension (as appropriate to assets). Note also that the comparatively low balance for a modest lifestyle is because ASFA deems that the base Age Pension will be able to meet requirements.

As far as recurring spending goes, ASFA estimates (for a 65 year old) that an annual budget would generally look like the following;

Comfortable lifestyle: Couple $59,236, Single $43,184

Modest lifestyle: Couple $34,226, Single $23,797

ASFA notes that as people age, their spending requirements also change. It estimates the net impact of the various factors at play mean that by age 85 annual budgets would reduce by around $1,000 a year for “modest” lifestyles, and $5,000 a year for “comfortable” lifestyles.

As far as measuring what these different lifestyles entails, ASFA has produced the following comparison table (and has included a retiree taking the Age Pension only).

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