How much super should I have at 40?

TAMIKA SEETO
Finance Journalist · 15 March 2021
If you’re in your 40s, retirement could still be a few decades away. However, it’s a good idea to take stock of your superannuation to make sure you’re on track to achieve your retirement goals.

Firstly, let’s take a look at the amount of super you will need at retirement. Remember, this will really depend on your unique circumstances, including whether you own a home, your savings and the lifestyle you want to live. We’ll then dive into the amount of super you need right now to achieve this.

How much super do I need to retire?

A single person needs a superannuation balance of $545,000 and a couple needs a combined balance of $640,000 when retiring to achieve a “comfortable” retirement, according to the peak policy and research body for super, the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA). This assumes you use money from your savings and investments and receive a part Age Pension at retirement (which is accessible from age 66, increasing to 67 by mid 2023).

A comfortable retirement allows you to be involved in a broad range of leisure and recreational activities, ASFA says. You can also purchase things like household goods, private health insurance, a reasonable car and electronics, and go on domestic and occasional international holidays. It’s compared to a “modest” retirement, which ASFA says is better than the Age Pension but you can only afford fairly basic activities. For a modest retirement, ASFA says singles and couples alike need a super balance of $70,000. Both standards assume the retiree owns their home outright and is relatively healthy, and has access to the Age Pension (in part or full).

How much super at 40
Source: RODNAE Productions/Pexels

How much super should you have at 40?

To achieve a comfortable retirement, ASFA projects a 40 year old needs $143,000 in their superannuation. This assumes the person retires at the age of 67.

Age Super balance needed today for a comfortable retirement
40 years old $143,000
41 years old $154,000
42 years old $164,000
43 years old $174,000
44 years old $184,000
45 years old $195,000
46 years old $207,000
47 years old $219,000
48 years old $231,000
49 years old $244,000

Source: Based on ASFA’s (The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia) Super Balance Detective calculator for a person turning the age specified in 2021. Comfortable retirement assumes an ASFA’s Comfortable Standard balance of $545,000 (in today’s dollars) by age 67. ASFA assumes future pre-tax wage income of around $65,000 and that upon retirement the retiree draws down all their capital and receives a part Age Pension. Other assumptions include: Investment returns (nominal), before investment fees and taxes are 6.7%, investment fees are 0.7% of assets, the tax rate is 4.5%, administration fees are $100 per annum and insurance premiums are $100 per annum. The reported required balances are intended for illustrative purposes only.

While these figures can be helpful, remember they are just guidelines. How much you actually need to retire will vary depending on your personal circumstances. Moneysmart recommends considering any large costs you’re likely to face, such as paying off your mortgage or medical costs, and the lifestyle you want to live in retirement. It’s also worth factoring in other sources of income, such as any savings and investments, as well as your eligibility for the Age Pension.

The maximum Age Pension is currently $868.30 a fortnight or $22,575.80 a year for singles, and $1,309.00 a fortnight or $34,034 a year for couples (not including any supplements). How much you can receive will depend on your income and assets, and for couples, the rate varies if you are apart due to ill health.

How much super does the average 40-year-old have?

The average superannuation balance for a 40-year-old Australian is $67,179 for males and $54,765 for females, according to APRA’s latest Annual Superannuation Bulletin. Unfortunately, this means there’s a significant gap between the amount Australians have in their super account and what ASFA projects they need to retire comfortably.

How can I boost my super?

If you’re looking to give your super a boost, you might like to try:

  • Consolidating multiple super accounts: if you have multiple super accounts, consider consolidating them into one account to help save on fees. Remember to check with your existing super funds to see what impact this could have, as consolidation may not be for everyone.
  • Salary sacrificing superannuation: this is where you get a portion of your pre-tax salary or wages paid into your super account. Salary sacrificed super contributions are usually taxed at a concessional rate of 15% according to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), which may be lower than your marginal tax rate. However, be aware of your concessional contributions cap, which is currently $25,000 per financial year.
  • Making additional contributions: as well as concessional contributions (pre-tax), you can also make non-concessional contributions (from your after-tax pay) of up to $100,000 each financial year. Your cap may vary in some circumstances, such as with bring-forward arrangements, according to the ATO.
  • Giving your super a health check: this could involve checking your fund’s performance, making sure you’re not paying too much in fees, evaluating your investment options and checking your insurance cover.

It’s also worth checking if you are eligible for the low income super tax offset or government co-contributions. If you have a spouse, you could also consider super splitting.

If you need help with your super or planning for retirement, you may want to get advice from your super fund or from a financial adviser.

If you’re comparing superannuation funds, the comparison table below displays some of the products currently available on Canstar’s database for Australians aged 30-39 with a balance of up to $55,000, sorted by Star Rating (highest to lowest), followed by company name (alphabetical). Use Canstar’s superannuation comparison selector to view a wider range of super funds.

Fee, performance and asset allocation information shown in the table above have been determined according to the investment profile in the Canstar Superannuation Star Ratings methodology that matches the age group specified above.

Cover image source: Jacob Lund/Shutterstock.com

This article was reviewed by our Sub Editor Jacqueline Belesky and Finance and Lifestyle Editor Shay Waraker before it was published as part of our fact-checking process.

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