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How much money do you need to retire?

It’s the most common question asked by potential retirees. Working an extra couple of years, having a zest for life or retiring early might affect both savings balances and lifespans

How much money do you need to retire? How much money do you need to retire? It’s the most common question asked by potential retirees. Working an extra couple of years, having a zest for life or retiring early might affect both savings balances and lifespans.

A common question is “how much do I need to retire?” Unfortunately, it’s impossible to give a simple answer because the amount of money needed depends on a wide range of variables that include how long you will live, the state of your health, the rate of inflation, the earnings on the assets you own and how often your children put their hands out for help.

A rule of thumb

A good rule of thumb is that you need capital of 15 times your planned expenditure. For example, if you require $40,000 a year when you retire, you should be trying to accumulate $600,000 in financial assets.

A bonus is our generous welfare system, that allows a couple to live in a luxury mansion, have more than $700,000 in other assets and still get a part age pension and all the fringe benefits.

Furthermore, as your assets diminish, you qualify for a larger pension, which tends to reduce the rate at which you run down your portfolio.

One of the best ways to boost the money you will have in retirement is to work a little longer and because of the way compounding works the benefits can be dramatic. Consider a person who is aged 58 and who has $300,000 in superannuation. If they retired immediately they would be lucky if their superannuation lasted to age 66 if they withdrew $40,000 a year and it earned 7%. However, working just two more years full time to age 60 would mean two more years of growth and contributions – by age 60 the balance could be $400,000. Their money may then last till age 72, or six years longer for working another two.

That is probably still way short of what they will need, so let’s recalculate the numbers on the assumption they will work to age 65. If they started with $400,000 at age 60, and salary sacrificed the maximum allowable of $35,000 a year, they should have $750,000 at age 65.

This would probably last them for life.

Other benefits of working longer

There is a growing consensus that working longer is not just good for your pocket, it’s also good for your health. A recent study by the UK-based Institute of Economic Affairs and the Age Endeavour Fellowship, titled, Work Longer, Live Healthier: The Relationship Between Economic Activity, Health And Government Policy, shows there is a small boost in health immediately after retirement but that, over the longer term, there is a significant deterioration.

It suggests retirement increases the likelihood of suffering from clinical depression by 40% and the chance of having at least one diagnosed physical condition by about 60%. The probability of taking medication for such a condition rises by about 60% as well, according to the findings. People who are retired are 40% less likely than others to describe themselves as being in very good or excellent health.

At first glance this recent research appears to contradict the work done by Sing Lin, Ph.D, which was based on the number of pension cheques sent to retirees of Boeing Aerospace. It showed that the average lifespan for people who retired at 50 was 86, whereas those who retired at age 65 had an average lifespan of 66.8. This apparent paradox is not hard to explain. The Boeing study pointed out that those who resigned at a relatively young age did not sit around and do nothing. They worked at a slower pace at jobs they found fulfilling and stimulating.

There is a wealth of other research that shows that happy and active retirees have emotional and financial security as well as a broad range of interests. A person who is confident enough in their future to leave a career with a major corporation at age 50 is more likely to have this than one who hangs on to age 65 because there is nothing else in their life. In life, and in your investment portfolio, diversification is the key. And making sure you have enough money to enjoy it.

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This content is provided by Cuffelinks and does not represent the views of AMP Capital.

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