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According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics¹, a male born in 2010 to 2012 can expect to live to the age of about 80 years, and a female to about 84 years. Compare this to about 55 and 59 years respectively for 1901 to 1910, and you can see how far we’ve come in a century!

Many of us will live even longer than these average ages. So if you retire at age 65, your retirement savings may need to generate returns to last up to 20 years and beyond.

Going the distance

The best way to make your money go the distance and help you take control of your finances is to prepare a budget.

A well thought out budget can help you in a number of ways.

  • It can indicate whether you’re spending more than you can afford
  • Help you make the best use of your income
  • Maximise the time your retirement funds will last

If you have a partner, it’s important you’re both across the budget, along with other financial preparations you need to make.

This will reduce the reliance on just one partner for financial decisions and handling household finances.

Getting help to prepare your budget

  • There are a number of ways to set up a budget, just look online
  • If you have a smartphone, there are a number of apps to help you track your spending. For example, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s MoneySmart TrackMySpend. It’s free, easy to use and you can do it on the go
  • If you’re not into smartphones and computers, we suggest you chat with a professional financial person for help and guidance
  • If you’re receiving the Age Pension you can use the Department of Human Services’ Centrepay to help you to pay bills as regular deductions from your Centrelink payments. This is an easy way to help you stay on your budget.

Ways to track your costs

Once you have your budget in place it’s important to monitor your spending.

  • Keep track of your budget and refine it along the way. You may find some costs, such as health care, can increase over time. Your spending habits can also change.
  • Keep all your receipts for a period – say one to three months – and then assess against your budget. Review any large gaps between your planned and actual expenditure, and assess whether you’re comfortable with the difference.

A realistic budget can help you to forecast spending and plan for big expenses. It’s a great tool to help with your longer-term financial planning, so your retirement savings can go the distance.

Budgets for a living standard that suits you

According to the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA), a single person needs to spend $42,861, and a couple $58,784, a year to live comfortably in retirement².

The table below shows the weekly and annual budget a single person or a couple needs, to fund a modest or comfortable lifestyle in retirement³. Your account-based pension may or may not bridge the gap between what you may qualify for through the government Age Pension and the lifestyle you’d like to achieve in retirement.

Tips for preparing your budget

  • Start by assessing your priorities in life, such as travelling and hobbies, along with any commitments you have
  • Make a list of your basic living expenses
  • List the things you could do without, if you needed to save some money
  • Then look at what income you have coming in and going out over a whole year. Your bank statements, bills, credit card statements and receipts will help you to work out all your expenses.
Stretch your retirement savings budget

Modest lifestyle - single

Modest lifestyle - couple

Comfortable lifestyle - single

Comfortable lifestyle - couple

Housing - ongoing only

$71.10

$68.25

$82.41

$95.53

Energy

$41.63

$55.29

$42.25

$57.29

Food

$77.13

$159.76

$110.18

$198.32

Clothing

$17.69

$28.71

$38.28

$57.43

Household goods and services

$26.83

$36.38

$75.48

$88.43

Health

$42.44

$81.91

$84.20

$148.61

Transport

$93.83

$96.48

$139.82

$142.48

Leisure

$74.00

$110.25

$224.25

$307.31

Communications

$9.13

$15.99

$25.11

$31.96

Total per week

$453.78

$653.04

$821.99

$1,127.36

Total per annum

$23,662

$34,051

$42,861

$58,784

The figures in each case assume that the retiree(s) own their own home, are relatively healthy, and relate to expenditure by the household. This can be greater than the household income after tax where there is a drawdown on capital over the period of retirement. All calculations are weekly, unless otherwise stated. Source: ASFA Retirement Standard, June quarter 2015
www.superannuation.asn.au/resources/retirement-standard
1. Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2011-2013, Life Tables, States, Territories and Australia  ‘Summary’, cat. no. 3302.0.55.001, viewed 21 August, 2015, http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/3302.0.55.001Main+Features12011-2013?OpenDocument
2. ASFA Retirement Standard, June quarter 2015. ASFA Retirement Standard assumes that you own your own home and single calculations are based on female figures. Figures shown are budgets for persons aged around 65 years.  Different budgets apply for persons aged around 85 years.
3 The ASFA Retirement Standard has defined a comfortable retirement lifestyle as enabling an older, healthy retiree to be involved in a broad range of leisure and recreational activities and to have a good standard of living through the purchase of such things as household goods, private health insurance, a reasonable car, good clothes, a range of electronic equipment, and domestic and occasionally international holiday travel.
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