While single Australians will need about $550,000 to retire comfortably, couples will need $650,000.

Achieving this or your specific retirement savings goal may seem daunting, especially when you have yet to start, by employing these strategies you will not only achieve your goals but exceed them.

Start with a goal & start early

We all know that starting to save for retirement early will ensure that we reach our goals but with the mortgage, car payment and expenses for the kids demanding attention, it seems nearly impossible. The only way to ensure success when it comes to retirement and savings goals is to make it an absolute priority. This will ensure you put away the required amounts on a consistent basis regardless of what else is going on and what life brings your way.

While setting a retirement goal it is important not only to consider how much you will need to live but also add any extra expenses to do the things you want to do. Whether this involves travelling or simply getting to work on hobbies you’ve put on hold, these expenses need to be considered and included in your retirement savings goal. Another important consideration is retirement age. Do you know when you would like to retire? This will make a big difference to how much you need to save.

Retirement savings – where to stash the cash

#1 Age Pension

With everyone solely focused on Superannuation, we forget that our Age Pensions are our Age Pensions are supposed to be our primary source of retirement funds and out Supers are supposed to back up or supplement this pension.

Your income and you assets will determine how much Age Pension you and your spouse qualify for. The higher your income and the more assets you own the less you will be entitled to. That being said, Age Pension which cannot be solely relied on for a comfortable retirement must be supplemented by your Superannuation.

#2 Superannuation

All Australians who work full time, part-time or are self-employed and choose to put money in their Superannuation are aware that they have “something” for retirement that goes beyond just relying on your Age Pension. Your Super requires your employer to contribute a set percentage of your pay check towards your retirement savings and has a number of benefits.

A huge benefit of Superannuation is the lower tax of 15% but you will only be able to access the funds at an age of between 55 and 60. As a rule, the more you are able to contribute to your Super, the more you will have when you retire. There are many things that you can do to boost your Super and push to achieve the goals that you’ve set.

Tips to boost your Super

  • You are allowed to choose whether you want to stick to the super fund chosen by your employer or opt for an alternative fund.
  • Always review your super payments and balance to ensure you’re on the right track and calculate whether or not you will reach your retirement savings goals if you continue to keep up with your current contributions.
  • If you or your spouse earns $40,000 or less a contribution can be made from the higher income earning spouse to the lower income earning spouse’s super of $3,000 per annum and still remain within the tax offset bracket. You can contribute more but this will not be within the tax offset bracket.
  • Do not be tempted to reach in your super unless you have no other options. The utter devastation that you can cause to your retirement plans will be very hard to rectify once you saved up money is gone. There are grounds on which you may be able to access the money before the required age such as during financial hardship and for compassionate grounds or terminal illness.
  • Consolidate your super to avoid multiple fees and make sure you know what you fund is gaining and that you have not reached the set caps.
  • Use the salary sacrifice contributions to boost your contributions and enjoy tax benefits while you do it. Salary sacrifice contributions are voluntary and are ideal for high income earners.
  • In addition to salary sacrifice which may not always be available to you, you are able to make additional personal contributions and benefit from tax deductions.
  • Once you’ve retired you may consider downsizing you home and the good news is that you can use the proceeds of this downsize towards their Super up to $600,000 per couple. The $1.6 million super cap does not apply when making this downsizer contribution so adding this move to your financial goals may be one of the best things you could do to secure your dream retirement.

Important retirement goals

Make use of a budget

Budgeting is an ongoing activity that changes drastically as we get older. Typically, we become more financially stable and earn more as we age and are also able to better manage our money and rely less on credit and more on savings to do the things we want.

That being said, this financial security and complacency can cause us to lose out on savings and investment boosts simply because we got too comfortable. Even if you are a few years shy of retirement, making the effort to review and optimise your budget can make a huge difference to the type of retirement you’ll enjoy.

Clearing debt before retirement

Millions of Australians retire and carry debt with them in their golden years. This not only reduces the cash flow you have for living expenses but it can take away the budget for all the activities you planned on enjoying.

This is why it’s crucial to create and maintain a debt repayment plan, which may, among other things, could ensure you pay off your mortgage before you retire. If you want to pay off your debts or simply better manage your credit cards and find ways to boost investments, we have a range of financial articles and expert advice to set you up.

Speaking to a financial planner

While the interest may bring us accurate and comprehensive information on all things related to finance and retirement, speaking to a financial planner will be well worth it, particularly if you are not the most financially savvy person.

They will be able to help you optimise income, savings and investments in a way that will take into account your individual needs and circumstances. While all of the tips and tricks discussed in this article can help you plan and boost your savings, talking to a financial planner will streamline your strategy and take you to the next level.

Downsizing your home

If you’ve repaid your mortgage in full and depending on your personal goals, you may want to make selling your home and downsizing a part of your retirement plans. As discussed you can add up to $300,000 per individual from the proceeds of the sale of your residence towards your super and this is simply a beautiful way to top off a well planned and executed retirement savings goal. Remember that you have to be older than 65 to take advantage of this top off benefit.

Remember that if you are considering downsizing you must follow a range guideline and rules that will apply in order to successfully pull it off. In addition to the age requirement you must understand the costs involved, how it will affect Age Pension benefits and be able to make the contribution within 3 months from the date that you receive the proceeds of the sale of the property, to name but a few. Do your research and ensure that you get it right.