Many Australians love sport, and as a result, we can be a bit obsessed with “averages”. Perhaps the most famous average of all is likely to be Don Bradman’s Test batting average of 99.94. For example, did you know that the mailing address for the ABC in each state is GPO Box 9994, which was taken from Bradman’s average?

However, in 80 test innings, he never once finished an innings on his average of 99 runs. So, the average tells us ‘something’, but certainly not all the story.

It’s a bit the same when it comes to money. Every quarter, the Association of Super Funds Australia (ASFA), put out their ‘Retirement Standard’*, which looks at what a modest and comfortable retirement would be for a single, or a couple, assuming an age of 65. The details can be found on the website, but are summarised below:

 

Modest Lifestyle

Comfortable Lifestyle

 

Single

CoupleSingle

Couple

Total Per Year

$28,165

$40,560$44,146

$62,269

What this means

A couple currently aged 65 would need to generate $62,269 after tax per annum to live a ‘comfortable lifestyle’ in retirement. How much of a lump sum would they need to generate that income? Well, that depends. If they owned property and lived off the rent, they’d need approximately $1.55M in jointly held assets to generate that amount, assuming a 4% rental yield. They would be over the Centrelink Assets Test threshold and would likely receive no Age Pension.

Within superannuation, they’d only need about $1M dollars assuming a drawdown rate of 6.2% of their balance. They would still most likely be ineligible for a Centrelink age pension and they would be reducing their superannuation balance quicker over time.

If they had $700,000 in superannuation and drew down 7% per annum, this would generate $49,000 per annum. They would potentially receive up to $6,377 each via the age pension, producing a total of $61,754 per annum. This is close enough to the ‘comfortable lifestyle’ mark (minus a few café lattes every now and again).

All these got to $62,000 odd per annum per year, but vastly different capital sums were required to get there.

How do you compare?

As with all averages, the Retirement Standard is not targeted directly at you. It targets a ‘comfortable lifestyle’ and not a ‘ticking off your bucket list with cocktails on the beach and convertible car’ lifestyle. As an alternative, Superguide** uses a rule of thumb to work out ‘how much is enough’ in retirement by considering a percentage of your pre-retirement income. Again, while not perfect, it may be more tailored to individuals. For a husband and wife on a combined income of $150,000 pre-tax ($117,000 post-tax), they would need income in retirement of nearly $82,000 per annum (70% of post-tax income). This is a fair increase on that required for a comfortable lifestyle as outlined by ASFA’s Retirement Standard, with a corresponding increase in the capital value required to produce it.

The myth of Don Bradman’s Test batting average was that we could expect him to score pretty close to 100 every time he went out to bat, but the reality was that 99.94 was simply a single number used to represent a larger set of numbers. It is the same with $62,269 as a retirement income target.

As with Don Bradman and his average, probably no couple will have living needs of $62,269 in retirement. Realistically, to have a retirement that you enjoy (and probably deserve) you’ll probably require significantly more. And of course, these figures are based on someone who is 65 now. If you are younger than that, it’s likely you will need more again.

While all these numbers may be a ‘useful guide’ to what you may need, more importantly, they highlight 2 things:

  1. It is important to plan specifically for the lifestyle you want in retirement, whatever that may look like. There are strategies available to boost your super and investments through contributions and structuring we at Stonehouse have been working on designed specifically to boost your wealth so you can live the life you choose; and
  2. It makes sense to encourage your friends, colleagues and loved ones to undertake the same individualised planning to ensure they are also on track to meet their goals and continue to receive timely advice throughout the changing landscape of their lives and not leave this process to chance or to find help via a Google search or a ‘chat with the bank’.

The safest approach is to act early, and as you get closer to retirement, within 5 or 10 years, a clear picture of the lifestyle you want and the expenses you’ll cover will become clearer.  That way, you aren’t ‘caught out’ in retirement.

By Steve Putt

*Association of Super Funds Australia 2020. Retirement Standard. Retrieved from https://www.superannuation.asn.au/resources/retirement-standard
**Superguide 2019. Target Retirement Income. Retrieved from https://www.superguide.com.au/ retirement-planning/target-retirement-income-percent-rule-of-thumb

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