How Much Super Do You Need for Retirement in Australia? Your Questions Answered

It’s a fundamental question, and one that needs to consider many different things: How much super do I need to have to retire?

Some say that if you can save around 10% to 15% of your income each year, you’ll give yourself a fighting chance, but you can think about a more personalised super savings goal with some considerations below.

Generally speaking, saving around 10% to 15% of your pretax or gross income for your super is what many financial professionals talk about. Individuals who earn more than $150,000 per anum lean closer to 15%, and low-income earners might typically save 10% as the pension could replace some of their income when they retire.

Exactly how much super you will need to save for retirement will depend on things like:

  • Your life expectancy (hard to estimate we know)
  • Your current expenditure and savings
  • Your ability to earn and invest money
  • Your lifestyle preferences when you retire

How can I calculate my future living expenses?

To estimate your future living expenses or income requirements, you can start by analysing your current expenditure. You can work this out by entering your average monthly spending in an Excel spreadsheet. Next, you have to think about which of these expenses might change the closer you get to retirement. Ideally, some might disappear altogether (like the mortgage), and other costs might increase (like golf fees). Try and also consider the things you would like to spend money on later (travel, leisure, entertainment) and you will have a rough idea of your monthly future monthly living expenses. 

- The Accountant (semi-retired)

Should I consider my income replacement calculations?

It’s an unfortunate reality that most Australian’s below the age of 45 haven’t given much thought to their retirement. If you’re one of the many who won’t give this a second thought, then it’s essential to consider the income-replacement calculations. It provides a one-size-fits-all style approach which is not going to be perfect, but it is far better than nothing.

By saving around 10% of your income now, you could comfortably live on 90% of your income in retirement with only minor adjustments to your monthly expenses.

- The Small Business Owner (early 60s)

To calculate where you might end up, work out how much of your income you’re saving for super. You only have to do this until you reach the retirement age, which means if you increase your savings to 15%, you could comfortably live on 85% of your income without adjusting expenses which is starting to sound very achievable. 

To get the most out of your super savings calculations, it is best to take a closer look at your expenses and refine your estimates as much as possible. After all, there’s a big difference between surviving and actually enjoying your retirement, so spend some time on this and play with a few different scenarios. 

- The Marketing Executive (mid-30s)

Shoud I try a retirement calculator?

Once you have considered the above, the SMSF Mate retirement calculator can give you an idea of how your retirement projections are looking. It compares things like spending estimates with a whole range of considerations. Things like economic growth, inflation, life expectancy and market returns are all set by default based on historical information.

- The Small Business Owner (early 60s)

With any calculator, the devil is always in the details, so you have to consider if the assumptions made in the SMSF Mate retirement calculator are correct given your situation. Questions to ask yourself are:

  • If the calculator considers an average market return of 7-8%, is your portfolio positioned to deliver these returns or does it need to be adjusted?
  • What growth and inflation figures are used in the calculator?
  • Is the portfolio invested in growth assets, or is it more defensively positioned and is it right for you and your proximity to retirement?
  • What is a realistic life expectancy considering your lifestyle choices?

- The Marketing Executive (mid-30s)

What should I do if my situation changes?

Life can often change pretty quickly, so it’s essential to reassess your super savings plans annually at the very least. 

- The Thrill-seeker (late-20s)

Starting your super savings plan now and adjusting as required is much better than playing catch up in your later years. You might get a new job, or decide to take some time off or even start a family and all these things can impact your super savings plans. 

This kind of thing can be quite overwhelming, so talking to a financial advisor could be the way forward, or you might like to roll up your sleeves and learn the ropes yourself

- The Accountant (semi-retired)

General Advice Warning

Troy Burns

Non-Correlated Capital

Troy has more than 15 years investment and fund management experience, including management of hedge funds and multi-strategy funds. Troy has raised and managed over 300 million dollars in investments and has engaged and serviced over 150 high-net-worth clients for Non-Correlated Capital, the investment company which he serves as CEO and Portfolio Manager. Based out of Perth, Western Australia, Troy is one of the founders of SMSF Mate.

Troy’s educational qualifications include a Masters of Business Administration, Masters of Applied Finance, and Advanced Diploma, Financial Markets, completed at Charles Sturt University. Troy has also previously worked as a derivatives trader and the managing director of a civil engineering company.

You can find out more about Troy or connect with him on Linkedin here:

Or visit his website here:

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Kind words from Aussies managing
their own self funded futures

  • SMSF Mate is a unique website because it has ideas about how to approach SMSFs, insurance and other financial topics that come straight from first hand experience. It's much more useful than what you find on all the other financial websites that just offer generic info that you could easily get on the ATO's website. It's also nice to know there's no financial incentive behind the information, it's legitimately there to help people understand self-managed super funds and how to get the most out of them, not to get an affiliate commission from a broker or other financial services provider. The investment product information is also incredibly useful, I've never seen this kind of functionality on any other website that let's you look at such a wide range of products, sort by what info is most interesting or important to you, and subscribe to updates for different funds and financial products all in one place. Definitely worth checking out if you own or are considering an SMSF!

    David G, Self-Employed, SMSF Owner
  • SMSF Mate provides a unique insight into superannuation and financial topics in a way that is easier to understand than conventional websites. The colloquial nature of the site makes it easy to understand and they often speak about complicated topics in lamens terms so I can wrap my head around them. The investment product information is a great way to research funds that I am interested in investing in with my SMSF and there is a lot of helpful information on the site for better structuring my investment portfolio. In comparison to other websites which offer similar information, SMSF Mate excels as the information is free to access whereas many other sites charge a subscription fee for the same thing. Overall, I think SMSF Mate is a great resource for SMSF trustees and is worth looking at for a variety of super-related topics. Thanks.

    Tim B, Business Owner, SMSF Trustee