Finance: Plans enable comfortable retirement

By Allan Williams

Retirement ... it's a wonderful and rewarding time of your life. Finally, after years of honing your career, working hard and raising a family, this life stage is about having the time and resources to pursue the things you enjoy.

Rather pleasing, then, that these golden years are lasting longer than ever. Each new generation of New Zealanders is living longer than the last.

So it's no wonder there's increasing debate over whether the entitlement age for New Zealand Superannuation should be lifted.

It's a brave move made by many governments already, with countries such as Britain, Singapore and Australia announcing that over the next decade or so, the age of government pension entitlement will gradually increase, and means testing will be introduced.

It's becoming increasingly obvious New Zealanders must take responsibility for their own financial support, come retirement.

According to a recent study which looked at the cost of living for a healthy, but basic, lifestyle at retirement, a single person renting a home needs $453 a week and a couple require $590 - both figures considerably greater than the current pension entitlement of $333 and $511 respectively.

So how much extra is needed to help close the gap?

Assuming a couple wants to live off the "average" New Zealand income in retirement, they would require a net income of around $45,000 to $50,000 per annum. Let's say they were going to live for 20 years in retirement (but remember, this is increasing every few years), they would require income in addition to New Zealand Super of about $22,000 per annum.

To achieve this, they would need to have accumulated a retirement nest egg of about $420,000. This doesn't take into account any unexpected healthcare costs or provisions for children.

For others not so fortunate (or forward-thinking), it means a serious rethink of plans. Perhaps working past 65 is an option, or further reducing living costs in order to set aside some for the future, or downsizing the family home to release equity.

Allan Williams is an authorised financial adviser with Spicers Portfolio Management.

- Hamilton News

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