How much super you should have at every age from 20 to 50-years-old

A quarter of Aussies think they will need more than $1 million to have a good life when they hit old age. Find out if your retirement pot is on track.

Just 39 per cent of Australians think they’re on track to achieve their retirement savings goal while many are worried about running out of money when they are older, according to new surveys.

Research from Canstar found 22 per cent of Australians think they’ll need $1 million or more to comfortably retire, 55 per cent feel a comfortable retirement can be had on less than $1 million and 23 per cent aren’t sure how much they’ll need.

The average Australian super balance is $182,562, according to Canstar, but there are disturbing differences between males and females.

Men had $237,466 in their super fund, compared to just $136,411 for females, creating a whopping gap of more than $100,000 between the genders.

Baby Boomers obviously had the biggest retirement pot with an average of $303,229, followed by Gen X with $201,737 and Millennials had managed to put $66,008 into their super.

Meanwhile, Gen Z had an average of $45,822 in their superannuation fund.

Yet despite the important role of superannuation, a third of Aussies don’t even know much is in their fund, Canstar’s survey showed.

So how much do you need?

The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) estimates that the lump sum needed at retirement to support a comfortable lifestyle is $640,000 for a couple and $545,000 for a single person.

Based on ASFA’s Super Balance Detective tool, NSG Super calculated the average amount people would need at a certain age to guarantee they could retire comfortably.

For 22 to 24 years old, their super balance should currently be sitting at $10,666, rising to $38,600 for 25-29 year olds.

Heading into your thirties, a person aged 30-34 should have $76,600 in their retirement pot, climbing to $122,000 for those 35-39 years old.

People aged 40-44 years should have an average balance of $174,200, which jumps to $231,600 when you’re 45-49 years old.

For those approaching retirement, aged 50-54 years old, their retirement fund should be sitting at around $300,200.

SuperRatings market insights manager Camille Schmidt said a rule of thumb for retirement was to target a number then work back, taking into account aged pension and assets to get a complete picture.

Also, taking an income stream as opposed to cashing out a lump sum could be better, he said.

“Plan well and plan early has a huge impact, with far too many Australians still not knowing that their super fund offers an income stream/allocated pension (super account which you can draw down over time) that has compared very well relative to anything sitting in a bank,” Mr Rappell said.

Gen Z ‘sacrificing their future’

But there are concerns the younger generations aren’t taking the issue seriously.

Research released from NGS Super, the industry super fund for the education and

community sectors, found 73 per cent of Gen Z said the pandemic encouraged them to save more and 31 per cent were prompted to explore investment options such as shares or cryptocurrency.

Yet, when it came to their biggest investment – super – two in five said they didn’t care who their super was with and only 15 per cent want to invest more into their retirement nest egg.

This attitude could lead to a generation of Australians who will live and work for longer than ever before, but who may not be as financially secure as they should be in retirement, according to NGS Super.

Laura Wright, chief executive officer at NGS Super said the pandemic has made Gen Z hungry for more financial advice and investment options, but they’re looking for short-term satisfaction with many decisions based on limited information via social media.

“Gen Z is entering the workforce in droves and we’re facing a critical moment in time to educate and engage with Gen Zs about their super to help them build a more financially secure and sustainable future,” she noted.

“It might not be surprising that our Gen Z workers are focusing on shorter-term investments rather than their super, but it is concerning how much they are potentially sacrificing for their future.

“Super can be a very powerful tool in a young person’s investment toolkit, and it’s being disregarded.”

Yet as many as three-in-10 Gen Z Australians took up the early release super scheme and cashed out their retirement savings, costing them thousands, added Ms Wright.

Worried about running out of money

Older people like Baby Boomers were more likely to expect comfort in retirement compared to only 35 per cent of respondents aged under 55, research commissioned by investment management firm Challenger Life found.

There were three groups in particular that were worried about running out of money, said Challenger’s head of retirement income research, Aaron Minney

“Aside from the obvious, that people with less savings are more worried about their finances in retirement, the survey also highlighted that; women, people under 65 and those expecting a basic lifestyle are more likely to be concerned about outliving their retirement savings,” he noted.

When asked about their Plan B, people only had a basic idea of how to tackle the issue with the majority of respondents saying they would adjust their lifestyle by changing their spending habits to manage the risk of running out of money.

How to grow your super

SuperRatings estimates using the median balanced option within your fund is great for growth. Its research found that option grew by more than 140 per cent over the past 15 years, with a balance of $100,000 in September 2006 accumulating to $242,603.

Over the same period, fund members that chose the growth option enjoyed an even stronger result, with the same starting balance growing to $247,549.

But share-focused options have delivered the highest returns over the past 15 years, with the median Australian shares option growing from $100,000 to $270,190 and the median international shares option surging from $100,000 to $261,803. However, these types of options involve greater ups and downs over the years.

Problems with parental leave and unpaid super

According to Industry Super Australia, generally the accepted amount needed for an adequate retirement is between 65 per cent to 75 per cent of you pre-retirement income.

But the organisation argues that unless the 12 per cent super guarantee rate comes into force most income levels will not reach that amount, particularly not for lower to middle income earners.

“In theory, Australians should aim for a retirement income of about 65-75 per cent of their working wages – at that level families can feel secure about the future,” Industry Super Australia chief executive Bernie Dean told

“The theory might be complex, but we all know that if the government sticks to its plan to increase the super rate to 12 per cent, millions more families will have more money and security in retirement.

“If the government freezes the super rate or allows young people to dip into their super early, many more families will end up scraping by with just the pension as income in their later years, and that’s no future for our country.”

Superannuation Minister Jane Hume confirmed a re-elected Coalition government would lift the super rate to 12 per cent in line with the current legislated schedule.

The rate currently sits at 10 per cent and is legislated to increase by 0.5 per cent increments each year until it reaches 12 per cent by 2025.

However, not paying super on Commonwealth parental leave contributes to the gender savings gap and this has cost young mums $1.6 billion and will leave a mother of two $14,000 worse off at retirement, found Industry Super Australia.

Almost three million Australians – about a quarter of the workforce – are not getting all the super they are entitled to either.

The $5 billion a year unpaid super scourge needs to be urgently addressed by mandating that

super is paid at the same time as wages, not quarterly, the Industry Super Association said.

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