How Much Super Do You Need?

Daniel Brown

Financial ExpertUpdated on May 10, 2022

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How much money will you need for a comfortable retirement lifestyle? It can be difficult to gauge whether your super is on track to provide for your retirement, or if you need to save a bit more money.

This article will teach you how to calculate the super contributions needed to achieve the lifestyle you want after retirement. We’ll also discuss how to boost your super balance and set a retirement balance target.

The ASFA (Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia) comfortable retirement standard is also explained. The standard serves as a guide to boosting your superannuation funds to achieve the retirement life that you have imagined.  

Michael Longmire | Unplash

How Much Super Do You Need?

According to ASFA, the country’s authority in research and advocacy for the superannuation industry, the age pension would likely be enough for a modest lifestyle. 

The ASFA estimates $70,000 as the amount of money needed in personal savings or super funds for a single person or couple with average living expenses. 

For a couple wanting to live comfortably during retirement, ASFA recommends that they have at least $640,000 in their super account. For a single person, $545,000  is ideal for a comfortable retirement.

How Much Super You Need Based on Age and Gender

To determine the reasonable amount of super you should have in your account, you can look at the following data from ASFA that shows the average super balance by age and gender. 

AgeAverage Superannuation Balance (Female)Average Superannuation Balance (Male)
15 – 19 years$594$382
20 – 24 years$5,022$5,924
25 – 29 years $19,107$23,712
30 – 34 years $33,748$43,583
35 – 39 years$48,874$64,590
40 – 44 years $61,922$99,959
45 – 49 years $87,543$145,076
50 – 54 years $99,520$172,126
55 – 59 years $123,642$237,022
60 – 64 years $157,049$270,710
65 – 69 years $171,227$246,915
70 – 74 years $109,831$214,030
75 – 79 years $51,880$102,647
80 – 84 years$31,372$58,827
85 years and over$13,038$15,778

According to ASFA’s 2017 report, the average super balance in 2013-2014 for men was $292,500 and $138,150 for women. 

Superannuation and account balances are on average higher among men. Men had 61.2 per cent of total super balances in 2015-16 while women had around 38.7 per cent.

Pre-planning helps. If you are starting your first job, whether part-time or full-time, you can start planning for the retirement lifestyle you wish to have. 

Think long-term by preparing for the future and doing what you can in the present. In addition to the super contributions from your employer, you can also add extra funds to boost your savings. 

More importantly, while you’re still earning, take advantage of super contributions from your business endeavours. The dates to remember for super contributions are listed below. 

Quarterly Super Payment Due Dates

Quarter Period Payment Due Date 
1July 1 – September 30 October 28
2October 1 – December 31January 28 
3January 1 – March 31 April 28
4April 1 – June 30 July 28 

How Much Super Grows in Retirement

The total lump sum or pension you’ll receive from your superannuation depends on your account balance. 

For example, if you are 65 and you have a super balance of $523,000, you are already above the amount needed to support a modest lifestyle based on the estimates of AFSA. 

You can increase your super funds while working for a company with an Australian business number (ABN) for a number of years. The more contributions you make, the more benefit you will receive later on. 

Increasing Your Super Account Balance

You can grow your super funds based on your personal objectives. These will make a big difference to your financial future one day. 

Get the most out of your employer’s contributions by: 

  • Checking your employer’s super guarantee contributions to your account
  • Reporting any unpaid super from the employer to the ATO (Australian Taxation Office )
  • Keeping track of your super and determining any lost or withheld super

Likewise, you can actively grow your super by means of: 

  • Salary sacrifice arrangement with your employer
  • Making additional contributions
  • Getting government contributions if you are eligible
  • Transferring funds from foreign super pension accounts 

Your spouse may also make contributions to your super account. However, as a rule of thumb, there are limits on the amount of contributions within each financial year. If you exceed the caps, you may have to pay additional taxes.

Super Funds Tracking for a Comfortable Retirement

You can manage your super as a nest egg through the ATO online services by: 

  • Viewing details of your super accounts, including unclaimed or lost funds 
  • Checking the personalised version of YourSuper comparison tool 
  • Consolidating multiple super funds into one account
  • Withdrawing any ATO-held super as long as you meet the conditions for release. 

You must check the product disclosure statement to see whether there are investment fees you will need to pay. Likewise, you have to determine whether you will lose some insurance coverage for life, disability, and income protection if you decide to consolidate your super accounts.

Target Setting on Your Retirement Balance:

You cannot exceed the amount specified in the standard super balance for a specific age shown in the table above.

A good piece of professional and personal financial advice is to keep track of your contributions so you can find ways to boost your savings. 

In setting your retirement balance target, considering the following factors may be of great help:

  • Your working life before reaching retirement age
  • Your civil status 
  • Whether you plan to keep working
  • How much retirement income you need
  • Your assets and other sources of income
  • The retirement lifestyle you want 
  • Your life expectancy
  • Cost of living and annual income
  • Whether you qualify for an age pension
  • Time and investment returns 

Meanwhile, you can use a retirement calculator to make computing much easier. The calculator lets you estimate how much money you need to set aside for retirement and how much money you may have once you stop working. 

Age Pension: Are They Reliable? 

The Australian Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs has drawn attention to the financial situation of older Australians with few assets and without their own home, and those who have limited capacity to work or save for retirement. 

Many of these retirees have a long-term reliance on the income support system. In response, the committee recommended reviewing the suitability of the base pension levels through economic analysis of amounts required to achieve modest living standards for retired Australians. 

Understanding the ASFA Retirement Standard

The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) standard provides an idea of how much you need to save for a comfortable or modest standard of living, including necessities for private health insurance, social security, communication, travel, clothing, and household goods. 

Below is the illustration of the current AFSA standards and the age pension:

StatusComfortable Lifestyle(Per Annum) Modest Lifestyle (Per Annum) Age Pension (Per Annum) 
Single $43,901$27,987$21,222
Couple $62,083$40,440$31,995

Getting Retirement Planning Advice

Having a definite plan for your retirement can make things easier for you when you stop working. Set your priorities and check your investment options when growing your super funds. 

You can project how much retirement savings you require, based on your personal circumstances. You can use this as a guide for achieving a comfortable or modest retirement. 

Growing your super fund up to $500k when you reach 60 is possible. It may require some hard work, but it will be worth it in the end. 

Determining the amount of super for your retirement plan may require some technical expertise. You can request a call from our expert financial adviser today to help make wise financial decisions for your retirement goals. 

References

  1. Australian Government, Australian Taxation Office, Super Payment Due Dates, retrieved from https://www.ato.gov.au/business/super-for-employers/paying-super-contributions/super-payment-due-dates/ 
  2. Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) Superannuation Account Balances By Age and Gender, retrieved from https://www.superannuation.asn.au/ArticleDocuments/359/1710_Superannuation_account_balances_by_age_and_gender.pdf.aspx 
  3. Australian Government, Department of Social Services, Pension Review Background Paper, retrieved from https://www.dss.gov.au/our-responsibilities/seniors/publications-articles/pension-review-background-paper?HTML 
  4. Australian Government, Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation, Retiring Comfortably at a Time You Choose, retrieved from https://www.csc.gov.au/Members/News/ASFA%20retirement%20standard
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This is a model, not a prediction. Amounts and repayment periods are estimates only, actual amounts may be higher or lower.

  • It applies to loans where your regular repayment includes both interest and the gradual repayment of the amount borrowed.
  • Initial inputs will be displayed on the left hand side of the graph. Your ‘What if’ scenario (if applicable) will be
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This is a model, not a prediction. Amounts and repayment periods are estimates only, actual amounts may be higher or lower.

  • It applies to loans where your regular repayment includes both interest and the gradual repayment of the amount borrowed.
  • Initial inputs will be displayed on the left hand side of the graph. Your ‘What if’ scenario (if applicable) will be
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This is a model, not a prediction. Amounts and repayment periods are estimates only, actual amounts may be higher or lower.

  • It applies to loans where your regular repayment includes both interest and the gradual repayment of the amount borrowed.
  • Initial inputs will be displayed on the left hand side of the graph. Your ‘What if’ scenario (if applicable) will be
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Disclaimers

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This is a model, not a prediction. Amounts and repayment periods are estimates only, actual amounts may be higher or lower.

  • It applies to loans where your regular repayment includes both interest and the gradual repayment of the amount borrowed.
  • Initial inputs will be displayed on the left hand side of the graph. Your ‘What if’ scenario (if applicable) will be
    displayed on the right hand side of the graph.