Everyone should be saving for their retirement because New Zealand's superannuation scheme is not sustainable, a Masterton financial adviser warns.
Brett Dymond of Bramwell Brown Ltd told the Times-Age people needed to get serious about their retirement savings.
"There's no way the Government can continue to afford superannuation the way it is at present. Everyone has to take some responsibility for their own retirement."
Figures obtained from Inland Revenue show nearly 280,000 workers from the wider Wellington region and Wanganui have now signed up to the Government's voluntary KiwiSaver scheme to put money aside for their retirement.
At the end of August more than two million New Zealanders had signed up nationally, with more than $12 billion invested.
Mr Dymond said, while the scheme did not suit everyone, it provided a good way for "average employees" to save for retirement.
"Don't just assume that the Government will be there when you're 65 with the same amount of pension that they have now, because that just won't happen."
He urged Wairarapa residents to look at the hard numbers.
"People need to look at the standard of living they want in retirement and get their head around actually working out in dollar value what it is. As soon as you do that, then you can plan towards it."
Retirement Commissioner Diana Crossan also warned against relying on the superannuation allowance.
"People that work should understand that unless they put savings aside themselves they could end up living off New Zealand super alone and that's really tough.
"It means fish and chips are a treat - and if you don't want life where fish and chips are a treat then you should start doing something early."
The KiwiSaver scheme was an easy and convenient way for employees to save for the later years, Ms Crossan said.
Individual workers have saved over $5 billion since the scheme's 2007 introduction. Government contributions total $4.88 billion and employers' contributions total more than $2.7 billion.
Ms Crossan said planning for retirement was about weighing up current options with future pay-offs.
"There are times in your life when you have to make these decisions about how you manage your money differently.
"It might be worth going into debt to get an education, because your education will give you a better income in the future.
"It might be also worth going into debt to buy a house and get a mortgage ... because owning your own home is part of your retirement savings."
About 8 per cent of New Zealanders aged over 65 lived in hardship, of whom many were renting their homes, she said.
Other figures show about 250,000 people have opted out of KiwiSaver since it was introduced and just over 5000 people have turned 65 and withdrawn funds for retirement.
More than 80,000 others had taken contribution holidays at the beginning of September. A contribution holiday can be taken by someone who has been on the scheme for 12 months.