You hear this a lot when people talk about money: that there's never as much as we'd like there to be. "If I only had [insert dollar amount here], that would be enough."

Why is there never "enough"? And how much would "enough" be, exactly?"

That's the eternal question when it comes to planning for the future, too. Particularly retirement. How much will we need?

Get Sorted: Like you've never seen it
Get Sorted: Stark spaving mad


On the old Sorted site, when you fired up the retirement planner, it would prompt you with $800 a week as an amount to live on. You could adjust it, but many of us just went with it. Now that we've got an all new one, on an all new site, you have to think about it a bit more instead. How much would you say?

First off, it's important to have in mind the government pension, and how much NZ Super pays a week. As of 1 April it will be $385 for individuals. Will that be enough? Or will there be much of a gap above it that we'll need to fill?

To help, the Westpac Massey Fin-Ed Centre publishes a study of how much people are spending in their retirements these days, based on figures from Statistics New Zealand's triennial Household Economic Survey. Turns out the amounts are significantly different if we're living in a main centre (Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch) or out in the provinces.

The study also distinguishes between what retirees are spending for what they call a "no frills" lifestyle, or whether they have more "choices". The first is pretty basic; the second is more comfortable with some luxuries and treats. For example:

A "no frills" lifestyle for one person
Metro: $490 per week
Provinces: $419

A "choices" lifestyle for one person
Metro: $754
Provinces: $782

The study also looks into households of couples, too. How much are they spending? But first let's keep in mind what NZ Super is for couples from 1 April: $592 a week. Here's what the study found couples are spending:

A "no frills" lifestyle for two people
Metro: $523
Provinces: $678


A "choices" lifestyle for two people
Metro: $1,092
Provinces: $1,012

As these numbers show, NZ Super ($592) only covers "enough" - there's that word again! - for two people living a frugal lifestyle in a metropolitan area ($523). So there is bound to be a gap to fill for most of us, which will be filled by KiwiSaver, for instance.

As we plug our numbers into the all-new retirement planner, we'll need to "guesstimate" how much we'll need. Using the numbers above as a starting point should be valuable to see how our own savings are tracking in relation to these lifestyles.

One thing is for sure - using the planner sooner rather than later will give us a sense of what savings are required to retire the way we want.

Debate on this article is now closed.