It only takes a few minutes to work out your likely retirement wealth. Picture: iStock.
It only takes a few minutes to work out your likely retirement wealth. Picture: iStock.

Calculate how much super you need to make you rich

How rich will you be in retirement? Many Australians have no idea, but there a growing number of online tools and calculators to help work out some of the most important numbers of their lives.

These tools deliver a clear picture of where your superannuation savings and other assets sit today, how they should grow and what sort of wealth you can expect later in life.

And, importantly, the tools can open your eyes up to what to do to get richer than your current numbers might project.

BUDGETING

Knowing what you spend today is a vital step in understanding existing and future finances and spotting potential savings.

MBA Financial Strategists director Darren James says many banks and other financial services groups have free budgeting calculators that break down your expenses and income.

"It's the basis of everything," he says.

"It also gives you an idea of current spending and surplus and what you have left to allocate."

MBA Financial Strategists director Darren James says some people over-complicate planning.
MBA Financial Strategists director Darren James says some people over-complicate planning.

For some people, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission's moneysmart.gov.au website is a one-stop shop.

JBS Financial Strategists CEO Jenny Brown says it's "probably the go-to website for free tools".

"Moneysmart has got a really good budgeting calculator that we use for our clients," she says.

SUPERANNUATION

Punch in your age, income, current super balance and planned retirement age into Moneysmart's superannuation calculator and you get an instant snapshot of the likely size of your super nest egg.

You can go into more detail about fees, investment options and comparing other super funds, while altering your desired retirement age will show you the financial outcome of working for longer or shorter periods.

"Know what age you can afford to retire - you may have to delay it a couple of years," Brown says.

"Not everybody needs advice, and often you can do a lot yourself without seeking that advice."

While a juicy lump sum sounds nice, how much money will it give you weekly or monthly?

RETIREMENT INCOME

MoneySmart's retirement planner tool estimates your likely income in retirement from your own assets and age pension entitlements.

It shows how working part-time or taking a break may affect your retirement balance and income, but does not show the wealth impact of owning non-super assets such as investment properties and share portfolios.

"It gives you a good grounding and understanding of what you need to do," Brown says.

"Look at what you need to do to make up any shortfall. Educate yourself."

James says almost every super fund has a tool that creates a retirement income snapshot, but many people have difficulties working out what income they will need.

JBS Financial Strategists CEO Jenny Brown: “Know what age you can afford to retire”.
JBS Financial Strategists CEO Jenny Brown: “Know what age you can afford to retire”.

"That's the biggest thing people struggle with - they almost over-complicate it," he says.

"Treat it as if today was your retirement day and assume all debts are paid off: what's the level of income you would need right now if you weren't working."

COMPOUND INTEREST

A simple way to forecast the growth of your assets held outside your super is through a compound interest calculator.

There are plenty of these available online, and all your need to do is punch in the current asset value, projected rate of growth - be conservative here - and time frame to discover the financial magic that comes from investing over many years and decades.

And if the numbers in the calculators don't please you and you're running out of time, there's always a safety net.

"There's an age pension for a reason," James says.

"Tools are great as a guide, but you often need to sit down with someone and talk."

@keanemoney



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