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Do Australians expect to have enough to self-fund retirement?

New research reveals the uncertain outlook Australians have for their future retirement: 60% admit they won’t have the superannuation and cash to self-fund their retirement, nearly a third (31%) expect to carry debts into their retirement, and three quarters (73%) expect to receive the pension at some point.

The findings were derived from a survey of an independent panel of 1,018  Australians, commissioned by finance platform The pool of survey respondents matches the age and geographical spread of the Australian population. More than half (573) were aged 35-60, and these respondents were asked the following questions.

1. What level of annual income do Australians want in their retirement?

Respondents were asked what income they want in their retirement:

  • More than half (57%) of respondents want more than $60,000
  • 35% want more than $80,000
  • While a fifth (20%) want more than $100,000

These income expectations are well above The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia’s (ASFA) Retirement Standard, which estimated for the June 2022 quarter that singles living a comfortable retirement will spend $47,383 per year, while retired couples will spend $66,725 per year.

While the Retirement Standard increased these figures by around 2% in the June quarter, the income levels that more than half of retirees expect to live on are still at least 27% higher. The Retirement Standard also assumes people don’t carry debts into their retirement.

Respondents have lived through several months of fast-rising inflation and interest rates, which is forcing them to factor price and loan repayment increases into their retirement preparedness and income expectations. People also have new desires – such as travel – after two years of COVID restrictions. A proportion of my own clients are purchasing campervans, cars and spending on travel.

Looking at the results across age groups, respondents that are further from reaching retirement age indicated they want a higher annual income than older respondents. Two-thirds (64%) of 35-44-year-olds and 57% of 45-54-year-olds want more than $60,000 in their retirement compared with just 43% of 55-60-year-olds. More than a quarter (26%) of 35-44-year-olds want more than $100,000 annually compared with 20% of 45-54-year-olds and 10% of 55-60-year-olds.

When analysing responses across the States, Queensland and NSW respondents want a larger income in their retirement. 40% of Queenslanders and NSW residents indicated they want more than $80,000 in annual income compared with 27% of South Australians and 23% of West Australians. While 28% of Queenslanders and 26% of NSW residents also indicated they want more than $100,000 compared with just 15% of South Australians, 14% of West Australians, and 13% of Victorians.


NSW (%)

VIC (%)

QLD (%)

SA (%)

WA (%)

ACT (%)

Less than $40,000







$50,000 - $60,000







$60,000 - $80,000







$80,000 - $100,000







More than $100,000







2. Will Australians have enough super and cash flow to receive the income they want in their retirement?

There was a wide gap between people’s income expectations and their preparedness for retirement, and 60% of respondents admitted they won’t have adequate super, savings and cash flow from investments to receive their expected incomes.

Similar proportions of respondents across the different age groups admit they will not have adequate assets and cash to meet their retirement income expectations:


Age 35-44 (%)

Age 45-54 (%)

Age 55-60 (%)









3. Do Australians expect to have any debts when they retire?

A worrying 31% of respondents expect to carry debts into their retirement. Specifically, a fifth (21%) expect to retire without having paid off their mortgage or renovation loan, while a small proportion of respondents (an equal 4%) said they will still have major credit card debt or a car loan, while 2% expect to be paying off a personal loan.

Across the States, more NSW and Victorian respondents expect to bring debt into their retirement:

  • One third (36%) of NSW residents think they will have debt
  • Followed by 34% of Victorians
  • 29% of West Australians
  • 26% of Queenslanders
  • And 25% of South Australians

A quarter (24%) of NSW residents and 23% of Victorians expect to have a mortgage or renovation loan when they retire compared with 18% of Queenslanders, 17% of South Australians, and 14% of West Australians. 

By age group, a higher proportion of younger respondents expect to have debt when they retire, suggesting they may have larger loans to pay off: 32% of 35–54-year-olds compared with 27% of 55–60-year-olds.

A higher proportion of younger respondents also expect to carry a mortgage or renovation loan into their retirement: 21% of 35–54-year-olds compared with 18% of 55–60-year-olds.

The unfortunate reality is that to meet their expected retirement incomes, a large segment of the population will need to work longer or make significant sacrifices. Those who are already retired are also facing challenges, as they are unable to build their super, while contending with constantly rising costs, from health insurance premiums to interest rates and energy prices.

4. What proportion of Australians will need to receive a pension during their retirement?

The survey found that three-quarters (73%) of respondents will need to receive a pension at some point to support their retirement. A larger proportion (78%) of over-55s believe they will need a pension, compared with 71% of under-55s.

The maximum pension singles can receive is $1026 per fortnight, while the maximum for couples is $1547 fortnightly. Those who retire with assets, savings or an income stream will receive a lower pension, or no pension at all.

The pension also isn’t keeping up with the inflation rate, nor is it a realistic amount for those who have debt, pay rent or have costly health expenses. There is also a risk that those who are factoring a pension into their retirement plan might not be entitled to it. For instance, couples will be evaluated together, not individually: if your partner has a high income or assets in their retirement, this could render the couple ineligible in the early stages of their retirement.

Without this guarantee, I urge individuals to implement a financial plan as soon as possible to manage debts, savings and super. Some individuals may plan to sell their property once they exhaust their funds, with the view to downsizing or renting and using the cash to live out the rest of their retirement.

There was also little difference in expectations among age groups:

  • 78% of over-55s admitted they would need a pension to support them in their retirement
  • Compared with 71% of under-55s

Interestingly, the high proportion of younger respondents predicting the need for such a support measure suggest the ability for the population to save for their future has been significantly impacted by rising costs of living.


Helen Baker is a licenced financial adviser and spokesperson. This article is intended to provide general information only, and not financial advice. Before acting on any information in this article, you should consider your individual and business circumstances, and seek independent and professional legal, financial, taxation or other advice to help you determine whether these actions are appropriate for your needs.

The full survey results, including age and State breakdowns, can be found here:


October 16, 2022

It's difficult to know if one has enough for retirement as it requires projection using data current as of today while understanding that the rules are in a constant state of flux and under influence of tax funded 'think tanks' with somebody else's agenda. Certainly not mine ever, despite my tax funding it.

Dan Fool
October 15, 2022

Unlike most maps of Australia, I could find no mention in the article, & the referenced survey, of Tasmania & N.T. Those areas probably lack adequate numbers of potential customers of the author.

October 13, 2022

Me again,while there is nothing wrong with the article or the research was the obvious question asked at the start. How would you rate your financial knowledge?

Then do you understand the franking system outside of super?

Then do you understand compounding.

While I am doing my tax NAB paid a dividend of $1.27 last year,net.CBA paid $3.75 net.Working on 5,500 shares in each of them then 5,500 X the dividend.

$6985 for NAB and $20,625 for CBA.Then it is a simple ND ( net dividend ) divided by 7 and multiplied by 10
ND/7 X 10,get the grandchildren to do it.
Your gross income is $39,442.The grandchildren aren't here so I do it mental arithmetic,a bit of brain exercise.

I'm expecting an increase in dividend this year but time will tell.Same maths again,simple and easy .Pointless calculating the capital value as whatever it is today it will change on Monday.

October 14, 2022

Respectfully, I think we all "get it" Kevin! Perhaps oversharing the detail a little?

October 13, 2022

I think the problem is explaining how simple investing is.Give things 30 years to compound ( at least),the bigger the number at the start,the bigger the number at the end.You need to use a bit of leverage.
Doing my planning in the 1980s wasn't difficult.I expected to have a reasonable sum by investing and a bit of leverage
CBA was bought,govts had sold off assets cheaply,it was worth taking a chance on CBA.

NAB was probably the largest bank by market cap as WBC were determined to blow themselves up around that date.

$13000 bought you 1000 shares in each of them.I couldn't predict the future then and I can't now.To replace the pension you need approx $750K based on a grossed up 5.5% yield.A grossed up yield of 6% more than replaces the pension.Then if you retired at Xmas this year you'll have whatever you have in super.Starting at 3% back then it was obvious super was not going to self fund retirement.

People have denied the obvious since 1991,they are going to deny it in the future after we know the result.The two companies now have a capital value of between $700 and $800K if you reinvested all dividends.No buying into capital raisings,just not doing anything apart from paying off the $13K loan as fast as possible.

The dividend yields are fairly constant.The only shock was when the banks were instructed to cut dividends during COVID.
Retire at Xmas,you'll know exactly what the capital value is on 31/12/22,and people will deny it.The capital value of the shares and your super will change every day,the yield and drawdown should be fairly predictable.Every day forward from 31/12/22 people will still deny.They seem determined to make everything complicated,determined to deny what franking credits are

Endless studies,and what if,and look over there,ridiculous assumptions.Just spend a little time thinking and keeping up with changes,You'll be better off and retire comfortably.

October 13, 2022

Forgot,being old is a bugger.CBA performed well NAB didn't.You got 50% of it right and still did well.

Looking at the 1980s and Reagan/ Thatcherism you could see that public assets were sold off cheaply,mainly in the UK and BP oil.

Looking at the 4 I recall in Australia CBA,CSL, Telstra and Qantas.CBA and Telstra were probably/ definately buys .CSL you had to see the obvious,an ageing population,I didn't see it until years later.
Qantas no,history even then told you that transport companies in general are not good,car makers,shipbuilders,airlines etc.

The con men of the 1990s were quite easy to spot,their plants in the crowd etc.Two stockbrokers were brilliant,they could have sold you anything ,excellent salesman.The crowd were in raptures without plants.The .com era.18 months later they were banned for life,or a very long time.

The state stock exchanges had lectures on Tuesdays,in Perth they did.The speakers with the perfect suit,haircut and smooth as Drambuie were probably to be ignored.I'm paying for that.

Then we had Ian Huntley,Ian had to be seen to be believed,he was great,just explaining things.The exact opposite of the flash as a rat with a gold tooth mob.Explaining how it was quite easy to do things for yourself,you didn't even need people like him ,break it down into simple steps and have a look at a Huntley's data disc,available at your local state library.
I would love to get my hands on a Huntley's data disc from the late 1990s just to see how things grow.The Hoover's book for US companies that needed a forklift to carry it to a table to read.

I think it was Ian that told us to write to some US companies and the investor pack they would send you back would blow your mind.So I did, E,mail was starting then so 1 to Wrigley's and 1 to Johnson and Johnson.Full history of the companies,profits and dividends paid out from day one.I think JnJ went back to 1839 or something.Wrigleys gave 100 years of what occured if you reinvested dividends from 1900?.What you had if you hadn't used a DRP how much cash you had.

J nJ split the share price back to 1944 I think when the whole number was 1 cent.Then gave the table of how that had grown in share price and also reinvested dividends.From memory 1 cent had grown to around $400 or so.Both companies thanked me very much for the interest I had shown and hoped I would invest in them.

Ah well.

October 12, 2022

"enough to self-fund retirement?": Assumption 0: returns on retirement capital always exceed inflation plus living standard. Assumption 1: death follows retirement after 25 years. Then the amount of capital at commencement of retirement needed if 'Die with Zero' is: = PV(0%, 25, 100000, 0) = -$2,500,000 (- = capital is in fund). etc


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