Show me the money!

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:


ASFA Retirement Standard

Age Pension[2] – full rate


$28,514 pa

$24,770 per annum


$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:


ASFA Retirement Standard



$44,818 pa



$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