• Luke Jensen

How much do I need to retire?

A common question I am frequently asked by existing and prospective clients is “How much do I need to retire?”.....


This is a really good question – and an important one. Every Australian should be asking this question and the earlier they ask, the better. However, it can quickly become confusing when looking at the many and various answers that are offered.


For example, if I enter into Google this very question of “how much do I need to retire”, I receive a total of 340,000,000 results.


When I then ask Google “How much do I need to retire in Australia” I am provided with around 42,900,000 results. This is an interesting number of results given that Australia had 3.9 million retirees in the 2018-2019 financial year*. This equates to 11 responses for every retiree. So which response is correct?


The real answer to this question is that there is no “one” correct answer – well, not one you will find on Google anyway. The fact is everyone is an individual, with individual needs and ideals about what retirement will look like. Once you identify your requirements for your retirement lifestyle, you will quickly see that the amount you need to retire will vary significantly from the next person, who may have a completely different vision of their retirement.


Are there any average guidelines?


The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) has published the following chart in relation to living costs in retirement for average Australians:


ASFA Retirement Standard

Annual living costs

Weekly living costs

Couple - modest

$41,929

$803

Couple - comfortable

$64,771

$1,241

Single - modest

$29,139

$558

Single - comfortable

$45,962

$880

Source: ASFA, March 2022: https://www.superannuation.asn.au/resources/retirement-standard[m1] [LJ2]


Whilst this table provides a guide for Australians to consider their retirement income needs, I am yet to meet a client whose actual needs align to these amounts. Further to this, I am yet to meet two clients who have the same retirement income and lifestyle needs.



How do I work out how much I need to retire?


When I am asked the question, “How much do I need to retire?”, I engage in a conversation that reflects on a client’s current and expected lifestyle objectives in retirement. We then look at quantifying these objectives to help determine each individual's retirement income needs.


As an example, travel often factors into a client’s desired retirement lifestyle. Even this one lifestyle element can vary widely – some clients may be looking to travel overseas every year, while for others travel may mean caravan trips. Overseas travel will likely incur higher retirement income expense than caravan trips, however the caravan may result in larger capital expenses. And for some clients, travel may not even be an aspiration – they may be content staying close to family and choosing to care for their grandchildren.


There really isn’t one simple answer when it comes to retirement incomes and nor should there be. I am yet to meet an “average person”, or someone who simply wants to settle for the “average lifestyle”. Every person is unique so why would we aspire to “average”? Your perspectives and ideals are uniquely yours, and how you maintain this in your retirement is certainly worth exploring.


So, if you’re still wondering, “How much do I need to retire?” why not reach out to us? We can schedule a time for an initial meeting and discuss how we can help you identify your retirement income needs. We can also help show you how you’re tracking towards achieving your desired retirement outcomes. To get started, please contact the Propel Financial Advice team.


*https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/labour/employment-and-unemployment/retirement-and-retirement-intentions-australia/2018-19