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Compulsory super contributions alone won't fund a 'comfortable' retirement: Mark Bouris

Some of the numbers associated with retirement seem really big. Take the lump sum that the average Australian couple will have to save in order to retire comfortably: one million dollars.

It seems like a lot of money, but it makes sense.

The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) says that an average couple will need around $56,000 per year in order to fund a comfortable retirement.

“Comfortable” in this case means that you’ll have private health insurance, that you’ll be able to get a decent car and good clothes, and that you’ll be able to maintain your home, plus have some money for domestic and occasional overseas travel.

What it doesn’t include are the things that a lot of people in retirement look forward to: helping their children with a deposit on a first home, taking multiple trips abroad, treating the grandkids to special gifts for birthdays and Christmases, and actually replacing that car a few times over the course of 20 years. It also assumes that you own your own home and that you don’t have any housing costs except for general maintenance and repair. Finally, it doesn’t factor in that you might have a large unforseen medical expense such as a hip replacement, which could cost you tens of thousands of dollars.

So if you factor in a few of these, in addition to allowing for cost of living increases at say 3% per year, then you’re looking at a number that’s more like $65,000 per year for you and your spouse.

If you can rely on average investment returns of 5% per annum, then you’ll need a least $1 million to generate that $65,000 income per year in retirement.

So what you need to do is work out how you’re going to do it, because even though it sounds like a lot, it’s actually obtainable. But you need to take control and you need to start planning early. Trust me, I haven’t met a person in their fifties or sixties who hasn’t wished that they started saving sooner. And if you think the compulsory super contributions are going to get you to the million dollar mark, think again.

If you’re a 30-year-old earning $70,000 with a current super balance of $30,000, and you put in the compulsory 9% over the next 35 years, you will retire at 65 with $330,000, which generates $21,500 per year for 22 years. Even if compulsory contributions are raised to 12%, you won’t get there. The same person who invests 12% cent over 35 years will end up with $420,000.

So set yourself a $1 million challenge and start taking control of your superannuation.

You now know your goal, so set yourself up with a solid plan and get some help if you need it. I’m not saying you have to come to a Yellow Brick Road branch, but you should talk to someone who can assist you. An adviser can work with you to create a plan, and then it’s up to you to own it.

Mark Bouris is executive chairman of Yellow Brick Road, a financial services company offering home loans, financial planning, accounting and tax, and insurance.

Mark Bouris

Mark Bouris

Mark Bouris is executive chairman of Yellow Brick Road, a financial services company offering home loans, financial planning, accounting and tax, and insurance.

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