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How much super is enough?

Superannuation  |  6/05/2019  |   5 min read

Most of us dream of the day we can stop working and start ticking off our bucket list. Whether that means a cruise ship in the South Pacific, improving your golf handicap or spending time with the grandkids, superannuation is likely to be a major source of your retirement income.

The more money you squirrel away in super during your working years, the rosier your retirement options will be. The question is, how much is enough?

How long is a length of string?

The super retirement balance you need to aim for will depend on a number of factors including the age you retire, how long you live, the lifestyle you wish to maintain, future health and aged care costs and whether you receive a full or part Age Pension.

You also need to factor in whether you own your own home outright and your relationship status because two is generally cheaper than one.

Estimating your needs

Financial commentators often suggest you will need around two thirds (67%) of your pre-retirement salary to enjoy a similar standard of living in retirement. Lower income households may need more because they typically spend more of their income on necessities before and after retirement. 

The latest ASFA Retirement Standard estimates that a couple retiring today needs a retirement super balance of $640,000 to provide a comfortable standard of living. As the table below shows, this would provide an annual income of $60,977.

Singles need a lump sum of $545,000 to provide a comfortable income of $43,317 a year. These figures assume people own their home and will receive a part Age Pension.

Of course, everyone’s idea of comfort is different. Annual overseas trips or expensive hobbies may require higher savings. Frugal homebodies may get by with less, while those with health issues may require more.

ASFA retirement Standard

Retirement Lifestyle Couple  Single
  Comfortable Modest Comfortable Modest
Total weekly spending $1,168 $762 $830 $530
Total annual spending $60,977 $39,775 $43,317 $27,648
Savings required at retirement $640,000 70,000* $545,000 $70,000*

Source: ASFA Retirement Standard December quarter 2018
*The lump sums needed for a modest lifestyle are relatively low due to the fact that the base rate of the Age Pension (plus various pension supplements) is sufficient to meet much of the expenditure required at this budget level.

How do I compare?

The mean balance at retirement (age 60-64) shows most people retiring today fall well short of the amount needed for a ‘comfortable’ retirement.

Since these figures were taken most people will have increased their balance, but the gap between men and women persists at all ages. Women are more likely to take time out of the workforce, earn less than their male counterparts and work part-time. Divorce also tends to put a bigger dent in women’s retirement savings. By the time women reach their 60s they have 42 per cent less super than men on average and are more likely than younger women to have no super at all.

Mean balance and coverage (2015-2016)

Age Male  Female
30-34 $43,583 $33,748
40-44 $99,959 $61,922
50-54 $172,126 $99,520
60-64 $270,710 $157,049

Source: ABS, ASFA

How can I boost my super?

If your super is not tracking as well as you would like, there are ways to give it a kick along.

  • Check your investment options. Personalising your investment options, and choosing a more growth driven strategy can make a big difference to your future balance. Equip’s Balanced Growth option has delivered a very healthy 9.2% over the past ten years. But our Growth Plus option is one of the industry’s top performers, returning 11.53% over 10 years. Those percentage points make a big difference as your account grows. You can learn more about your investment choices here, and track the associated returns here. Make changes by logging into your account.



  • Spouse contributions. If you earn less than $37,000, your other half can contribute to your super and claim a tax offset of up to $540. This is known as a spouse contribution. The offset phases out once you earn $40,000 or more. This tax offset is open to married, de facto and same sex couples. Learn more.


  • Government co-contributions. If you are a mid to low income earner and make an after-tax contribution to your super account, the government will chip in up to $500. To receive the maximum contribution, you need to earn less than $37,697 and contribute at least $1,000 during the financial year. The government co-contribution reduces the more you earn and phases out once you earn $52,697. Learn more.


  • Downsizer contributions. If you are 65 or older you may be able to make a downsizer contribution to your super of up to $300,000 from the proceeds of selling your home. Couples could contribute up to $600,000. The property must have been owned for at least 10 years and used as the main residence for some or all the time. Note that this may impact your Centrelink entitlements, and you should speak with a financial planner to understand the potential implications. Learn more. 


Find out how your future is looking with Equip’s retirement calculator. For additional advice and options speak with an Equip financial planner, and look forward to a better retirement.


This information is provided for general information only. It does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs and should therefore not be taken as personal advice. You should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it and, if necessary, you should seek professional financial advice. Issued by Equipsuper Pty Ltd ABN 64 006 964 049 AFSL 246383.  MySuper Authorisation Numbers 33813823017672 and 33813823017518  (‘Equip’, ‘the Fund’ and ‘the Equip Rio Tinto Fund’).

Equipsuper Financial Planning Pty Ltd (“EFP”) (ABN 84 124 491 078, AFSL 455010) is licensed to provide financial planning services to retail and wholesale clients. EFP is owned by Equipsuper Financial Holdings Pty Ltd (ABN 11 604 515 791). You can obtain the EFP Financial Services Guide and/or Privacy Statement by contacting our Helpline 1800 682 626.

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