Super in your 50s. It’s time to put the pedal down

If 50 really is the new 40, then life has just begun. The kids are gaining independence or may have left home, and the mortgage could be a thing of the past. Bliss. But galloping towards you is… retirement!

How are you tracking?

According to the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA), a ‘comfortable’ retirement today costs close to $62,828 per year for a couple1. If you and your partner are planning to retire at If you’re currently 55 and plan to retire at age 67, this figure will have increased to $89,5782 a year, due to inflation. Are your super plans currently in place to enable you to achieve these outcomes?

Find those numbers a bit daunting? Here are some ways to boost your retirement savings.

Increase your pre-tax contributions

You can ask your employer to reduce your take-home pay and make larger contributions to your super fund. If you are self-employed, you can increase your level of tax-deductible contributions. This strategy is commonly known as ‘salary sacrifice’.

If you are earning between $120,001 and $180,000 per year, any income between those limits is taxed at 39% including Medicare Levy3. Salary sacrifice contributions to your superannuation fund are only taxed at up to 15%. Sacrificing just $1,000 per month to super will, over the course of a year, see you better off by $2,880 on the tax differences alone. Plus, the earnings on those super contributions will be taxed at only 15%, compared to investment earnings outside of super being taxed at your marginal rate.

Don’t overdo it though. If your salary sacrifice plus superannuation guarantee contributions add up to more than $27,500 in the 2021/22 financial year, the excess is added to your assessable income and taxed at your marginal tax rate with an offset.

Retiring slowly

Once you reach your preservation age4 you might start a ‘transition to retirement’ (TTR) pension from your superannuation fund. The idea is to allow people to reduce working hours without reducing their income.

Keep your money working

There is a tendency to opt for more secure, but lower-return investments as we approach retirement. However, even at retirement your investment horizon may still be decades. With cash and fixed interest producing some of their lowest returns in history, it may be beneficial to keep a significant portion of your portfolio invested in growth assets. However be aware, growth assets will be subject to greater volatility and capital fluctuations.

Insurance and death benefits

With the mortgage paid off or much diminished and a growing investment pool, your insurance needs have probably changed. You may be paying for cover you no longer need, premiums may be quite high due to age, and that money might be better applied to boosting your savings. This is a good time to review your insurance cover to ensure it continues to be a match for your changing circumstances.

It’s also a good idea to check the death benefit nomination with your super fund. By making a binding nomination you can ensure that your death benefit goes to the beneficiaries of your choice, and may mean they receive the money more quickly.

Get a plan!

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1http://www.superannuation.asn.au/resources/retirement-standard/
2Value of $62,828 today, in 12 years at 3% inflation.
3Based on Marginal Tax Rate of 37% plus Medicare Levy of 2%. Excludes offsets.
4Preservation age is based on your date of birth and can vary between age 55 to age 60.

Superannuation provides many opportunities for boosting your retirement wealth. However, it is a complex area and strategies that benefit some people may harm others. Good advice is absolutely essential, and the sooner you sit down with a licensed financial adviser, the better your chances of having more when you reach the finishing line.


The information contained in this article is general information only. It is not intended to be a recommendation, offer, advice or invitation to purchase, sell or otherwise deal in securities or other investments. Before making any decision in respect to a financial product, you should seek advice from an appropriately qualified professional.
We believe that the information contained in this document is accurate. However, we are not specifically licensed to provide tax or legal advice and any information that may relate to you should be confirmed with your tax or legal adviser.
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