Whether you’re 24 or 64, knowing how your super balance stacks up against others your age and what you should have at your age, can help you determine if you’re on track towards being able to fund a comfortable retirement.^
So, if you’re wondering how your own super is tracking, read on.
Australia’s super system has around $2.9 trillion in assets and is the 4th largest country of pension fund assets.1 However, two-thirds of super members don’t know the balances of their own account.2
This may be because many rarely – or never – open communications from their super funds,3 and yes, that’s ‘funds’ plural. Over 6 million working Australians still have more than one super account,4 costing $2.6 billion in fees per year (and that’s excluding the cost of multiple insurance premiums).
And, according to a recent ABC News article, given almost a third of the 2.8 million people approved to access $34 billion early from their super during COVID-19 aren’t sure about the impact on their balances at retirement,5 it’s possibly more important than ever to know where you stand with your super today.
How much super do I need for a ‘comfortable retirement’?
A good place to start is with the end in mind. For those wanting a ‘comfortable retirement,’ the average super balance at retirement should be around $640,000 for couples and around $545,000 for singles.6
These figures presume no mortgage, and account for spend on things like renovations, dining out, and occasional holidays amongst other things.
You may also want to consider what your life during retirement will be like, e.g., will you be in good health, how long might you live, and do you think you’ll need to pay for aged care?
When assessing your desired balance for retirement, a good idea is to think about what you want to spend money on. A ‘modest retirement’ lifestyle for example is considered better than the Age Pension, but still only able to afford basic activities. Read the ASFA Retirement Standard for more.
Please note. Another way you could estimate what you may need in retirement is based on the Retirement Income Review – Final Report, which was released by The Australian Government’s Treasury Department on 20 November 2020. This report refers to a general retirement income target of around two-thirds (65–75%) of your pre-retirement income for each year of your retirement instead of using the ASFA Retirement Standard. You should consider which retirement target is appropriate for your circumstances.
Tip: Try our handy Retirement Lifestyle calculator to see how spending money on different things can affect the cost of your lifestyle in retirement.
What’s the average super balance by age, and is it enough to track towards a ‘comfortable retirement’?
Research tells us there’s a gap between how much people have in their super now, and how much they need to fund their post-working years.
So, what are the current average balances for different age groups?
The table below shows the average super balances of Australians across different age groups and genders. We sourced these figures from the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA), and then calculated the overall averages for each age group.
Average super balance by age June 20207
It’s worth noting that Australian females on average have less in their super than males, given super is closely linked to paid work, and women currently earn around 14% less than men.8
Are these average balances enough to be tracking towards a ‘comfortable retirement’?
How much is ‘enough’ will change for every individual.
The table below suggests (that on average) there’s a potential shortfall in today’s super balances to be on track for a ‘comfortable retirement’, and shows where your super balance should be at your age today.
These recommended super balances have been calculated using ASFA’s Super Guru Super Balance Detective Calculator, averaged across different age groups.
ASFA’s view on what ‘should’ your average super balance be today?
Example: For those in the 40–44 age group, the balance shortfall is estimated at over $57,000. And for those in their early sixties, the balance shortfall is estimated at over $155,000.
How much super do I currently have and how does my balance compare?
A good way to see how your own super balance stacks up both against the current average balance for your age group as well as ASFA’s suggested average balance for your age, is to log into your super account.
As you review your balance, remember different assets generally deliver different returns, so it’s a good idea to check in regularly with the diversification of your super investments and your own risk appetite. As a general reminder:
- Growth assets, e.g. shares and property, are more likely to experience greater fluctuations in value, but have the potential to generate higher returns over the longer term.
- Defensive assets, e.g. cash and fixed interest, are generally considered to have lower levels of risk, but tend to produce lower, more stable returns.
What can I do if there’s a gap?
If you’re looking at your super balance and the averages above, and think your balance could do with a boost, here’s some things you could consider doing:
- Get the basics of your super sorted
By ensuring your super account is set up correctly can help get you on the right track for growing your super balance. Some simple things include recording your Tax File Number (TFN) so you don’t pay any unnecessary tax, and keeping your personal details updated so your super fund can contact you with any important information.
- Pay yourself back
If you were approved to access your super early as a part of the 2020 COVID-19 early access program, it’s a good idea to try and pay those funds back to yourself if you’re in a financial position to do so. You could talk to your employer about a salary sacrifice arrangement, or make some voluntary contributions yourself over time. Speak to your Financial Adviser about the options available to you.
You can use MoneySmart’s Superannuation calculator to see how regular contributions over time could add up over the years and potentially help boost your super balance.
- Start contributing as early as you can and as regularly as you can
Your super earnings follow the same principle as compounding, and generally, the earlier you can put money in, and the more regular your contributions, the better chance your super has to grow. Read more about how compounding works with superannuation.
- Consolidate your super accounts
More than 6 million Australians have more than one super account. If you’re one of these people, it’s worth thinking about consolidating them into one account. The money you may save in multiple fees could stay invested and really help grow your overall super balance.
- Add more to your super if you can
By adding more money to your account each year – above the 9.5% you normally receive from your employer – you’ll give your super the opportunity to grow faster and bigger.
Ask you Financial Adviser about the different strategies available to boost your super. Try just one or embrace them all to boost your super savings over time.
- Check in with your investment options over time
Investing your super at every age of your life is important. However, it’s worth checking in with your investment strategy, as the same one may not be appropriate for every life stage.
 “Superannuation Statistics.” The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA). December 2020.
 “National Financial Capability Strategy 2018.” Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC). August 2018.
 “When did you last check your super?” The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA). June 2019.
 “Super data: multiple accounts, lost and unclaimed super.” The Australian Government, Australian Taxation Office. October 2019.
 “Many withdrawing super early underestimate impact on retirement balance.” ABC News. September 2020.
 “ASFA Retirement Standard.” The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia Limited (ASFA). September 2020.
 “Experience to date with the early release of superannuation.” The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA). June 2020.
 “Australia’s Gender Pay Gap Statistics 2020.” The Australian Government, Workplace Gender Equality Agency. August 2020.
 “Super Balance Detective.” The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA). Accessed January 2021.