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A commonly-Googled search when it comes to money and retirement, is how much super should I have? It seems we’re keen to know if our retirement savings measure up and how they compare to other people of the same age.
So how much super should you have? Or in other words, what are average superannuation balances? A source of reputable information is Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).1
It shows that the average superannuation balance in 2017-18 for people aged 15 and over was $168,500 for men and $121,300 for women.
These figures are well up on the equivalent figures for two years’ earlier, particularly for women.
Average balances in 2015-16 for people aged 15 and over was $158,700 for men and $105,400 for women.
In fact, according to the ABS, increases in superannuation balances (along with long term growth in house prices) were a driver of average household wealth passing the $1 million mark in 2017–18.
Let’s look at some average superannuation balances at different ages.
2017-18 average balances for men
2017-18 average balance for women
For Australians aged 25 to 34
For Australians aged 35 to 44
For Australians aged 45 to 54
For Australians aged 55 to 64
For Australians aged 65 to 74
For Australians aged 75 and over
In 2018 the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) calculated that a comfortable retirement for a single person requires a lump sum at retirement of approximately $545,000. For a couple, the equivalent lump sum is $640,000.2
A comfortable retirement at age 65
A comfortable retirement at age 85
A comfortable retirement if you're renting
Women lag behind men in superannuation for a combination of reasons.
ASFA’s Women’s Economic Security in Retirement report3 outlined these reasons as:
broken working patterns
the gender pay gap
increasing casualisation of the workforce
structural issues in the superannuation system
adequacy of superannuation overall
practical issues with family law and superannuation splitting
There are things you can consider doing right now to help reduce any gender gap you may have.
“Contributing to your super while you’re still working could also help you pay less income tax, potentially putting more in your pocket at tax time while boosting your retirement savings.” Chief of QInvest, Kim Hughes.
While those who are younger have an advantage over those who are older, the message is clear. No matter what your age, or gender, it’s important to make your super work hard for you.
You can use key milestones in your life, such as starting a job, getting married, having a baby to review your super.
In your 20s, when you start your first job, do a budget, start saving, and check how much money is going into your super fund. Also learn what to look for when choosing the right super fund for you.
If you’re in your 30s, check out all the ways you can grow your super, from salary sacrifice to spouse contributions and tax offsets.
In your 40s, you might like to see a financial adviser and check whether you’re on track for a comfortable retirement. It can also be a good idea to check your fees and costs and see that your contributions to your super fund are not being eroded by high charges.
If you’re in your 50s, coming closer to retirement, you may want to learn about a transition to retirement strategy, and attend a member seminar.
If you’re about to retire, here’s a checklist of the things to do in the year leading up to your new lifestyle. Also learn when you can access your super, and learn more about QSuper’s award-winning Retirement Income Account.
If you are a retiree, remember to take some simple actions to protect your super from fraud. And attend QSuper’s Retirement Smart seminar, created for members already enjoying retirement.
1. Source: Household Income and Wealth, Australia, 2017-18, Australian Bureau of Statistics. Sourced July 2019.
2. ASFA Retirement Standard.
3. Women’s Economic Security in Retirement, ASFA. Published Feb 2018.
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