Show me the money!

By Peter Kelly
1 September 2021
(Realise Your Dream)


Regular readers of this blog will recall we have spoken about the ASFA[1] Retirement Standard in the past.

The ASFA Retirement Standard is released every quarter and benchmarks the living costs for Australians seeking either a modest or a comfortable retirement lifestyle. The Retirement Standard was first published back in 2004.

Considering increases in living costs due to inflation, these quarterly results provide an interesting insight in just how much it costs both a single person, and a couple, to live in retirement.

A modest retirement lifestyle will generally be supported by the full rate of age pension, plus a small subsidy from superannuation or other savings.

As of June 2021, the Retirement Standard reveals a modest lifestyle will cost:

Status ASFA Retirement Standard Age Pension[2] – full rate
Single $28,514 pa $24,770 per annum
Couple $41,170 pa $37,341 per annum


ASFA describes a modest lifestyle as being quite basic without much money for home maintenance and discretionary spending. There is no allowance for home improvements however retirees living a modest lifestyle can still afford to run a cheap car.

On the other hand, a comfortable lifestyle will cost more, but will deliver a better quality of life with money available for some travel (once restrictions are lifted!), dining out, better quality clothes, entertainment, home improvements, and more.

For people aspiring to a comfortable retirement lifestyle, they are going to need more savings, generally held in super, to provide the additional income required.

As savings or super increase, the amount of age pension will start to reduce because of the assets and income tests. It is therefore unlikely that those with sufficient income to support a comfortable lifestyle, will be receiving the full rate of age pension.

A comfortable lifestyle will cost:

Status ASFA Retirement Standard
Single $44,818 pa  
Couple $63,352 pa  


ASFA suggests that people wishing to aspire to a comfortable retirement lifestyle will need to have retirement savings in the vicinity of $640,000 (couple) or $545,000 (single).

Having said all of that, I am the first to acknowledge that many people will have different income needs for their retirement.

For example, a couple wishing to run two cars, those living in a luxury apartment with high body corporate fees, undertaking home renovations, or planning to enjoy regular overseas travel, will need a higher income to support their lifestyle.

In the end, it comes down to:

  • What does my preferred retirement lifestyle look like?
  • How much money do I need to support my lifestyle?
  • Where will that money come from – super, savings, inheritance, age pension, part-time or seasonal work?
  • Am I prepared to sacrifice my lifestyle later in retirement, by eroding my retirement savings, so I can enjoy a better lifestyle now?
  • How will I invest my super and other savings, and how will those investments perform over time?
  • How long does my money need to last?

Planning for, or living in retirement, is not set and forget.
For many people, retirement is going to last 20 to 30 years. Being set up financially for retirement is critically important.

However, as we progress through retirement, our needs will change. Our health may deteriorate resulting in higher healthcare expenses, our house may require too much upkeep and maintenance, or we may lose a partner.

As life changes, so will our income needs, and our need for professional advice and guidance.

Having access to good quality advice, and not being too proud to ask for help when it might be needed most, can contribute to a worry-free retirement.

[1] Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia

[2] Annualised rate – base pension + maximum pension supplement + energy supplement


General Advice Warning
The information contained in this article is of a generally nature and does not take into account your particular objectives, financial situation or needs. You should therefore consider the appropriateness of the advice for your situation before acting on it. You should obtain and consider the relevant Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and seek the assistance of an authorised financial adviser before making any decisions regarding any products or strategies mentioned in this publication.

While all care has been taken in the preparation of this blog, to the maximum extent permitted by law, no warranty is given in respect of the information provided and accordingly, neither Centrepoint Alliance Limited nor its related bodies corporate, employees or agents shall be liable for any loss suffered arising from reliance on this information.



Peter Kelly

PK believes people have the right to accurate, affordable and unbiased information that addresses all aspects of their preferred retirement lifestyle, thereby giving them the opportunity to make informed decisions that will empower them to live out their lives with dignity, certainty and security.


Mark Teale

Tealey’s ambition is to change how people think about their retirement, he wants people to dream, plan and realise retirement is not defined by a magical age prescribed by the legislation.


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