Approaching 60 with no money is a daunting prospect.
Diane is a 54-year-old single mother. Though she’s worked all of her adult life, she has little to show for it in the way of retirement savings. As retirement age is getting closer, she’s worried about how she can save enough funds to support herself when she eventually retires.
Does Diane’s situation sound familiar? It’s more common than you think.
According to a joint study by the University of Melbourne and Towers Watson, only 53 per cent of couples and 22 per cent of single people are on track to achieve a comfortable level of retirement income.
Saving enough for retirement is never an easy prospect, especially if you’re broke and struggling to make ends meet. But regardless of what stage of life you’re in, it’s a good idea to take time to consider how much you will realistically need to live comfortably in your retirement.
Money Smart said, in December 2013, that a relatively modest lifestyle in retirement would require around $446 per week ($23,175 per year). On the other hand, a more a comfortable lifestyle would need around $810 per week ($42,158 per year). Do these figures sound achievable to you?
Those who are ready to retire soon and have little money are probably wondering where they will get that kind of money, and whether the aged pension would be enough to support them. The aged pension for a single person is currently $766 per fortnight, with ‘Clear Energy Supplements’ (if you’re eligible for them) of $76.80 per fortnight. For many of us, that figure wouldn’t be enough.
So what you need to do is a quick calculation on how much you need to save and make a retirement savings plan.
Two possible ways that you can bolster your retirement funds are:
Salary sacrifice to increase your superannuation
If you are or have been working full time, then your employer would have been contributing 9.5 per cent to your superannuation. It’s worth talking to your employer about salary sacrificing part of your income. If you earn more than $37,000, salary sacrifice can be a good way to grow your super fund. It involves giving up some of your pay and putting it directly into your super instead. With your employers contribution as well, you will save tax and boost your super as all voluntary contributions to super are only taxed at 15%.
Open a high interest savings account
If you can afford to have a small amount (like $50 a month) taken from your pay and put into a high interest savings account which has no fees and pays interest monthly, this compound interest accumulation will grow over time. Be sure to add any extra funds you may receive, such as tax returns or annual bonuses, as the short-term loss to your pay packet will lead to long term gains for retirement. If needed, the funds can be used for investment later in life.
The earlier you put a plan into action, the better position you will be in in the future. By following the strategies above you will be well on your way to a more comfortable retirement. You may not think you can set the money aside, but you’d be surprised. We all pay for things that aren’t essential, so consider what you could cut back on. The more you contribute, the less funds you will waste.