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‘Scary’: Worker delaying retirement urges Australians to put more money away

Source: The New Daily

Like many Australians, Diane Benham has had to make tough choices during the cost-of-living crisis and recently decided to postpone retirement as prices for staples have soared.

The building manager, 70, now expects to need the aged pension despite owning her home, with superannuation alone unlikely to be enough despite decades in the workforce.

“It’s a pretty scary thing to suddenly realise that you have to rely on super and not have an income,” Benham said.

“I’ve never not had an income since I was 15 years old.”

Benham is now making voluntary contributions into her superannuation, saying her advice for younger people would be to put extra savings away for retirement early in their careers.

“If anybody can do it, they should be doing it,” Benham said.

“Honestly, I knew nothing when I started [working] and even after a number of years I still really didn’t have a clue about taxation, interest and superannuation.

“By the time you’ve realised you should be putting money away it’s almost too late.”

retirement

Diane Benham has a message for young Australians as she approaches retirement. Photo: Diane Benham

Retirement delayed 

New research from Equip Super has found more Australians are being forced to delay retirement over fears they haven’t got enough savings, pushing more to work into their 70s.

The survey quizzed 2000 people who were selected at random to participate by Equip.

Only about a quarter (26 per cent) of people surveyed for the fund think they’ll be able to retire at 65, while more than a third said the rising cost of living is the reason for delaying.

But for some workers that’s simply not an option.

Stephen Morley, a 60-year-old fitter and turner, was forced into retirement three years ago after a back injury left him unable to work.

Morley was prepared, though, having spent his career making voluntary super contributions.

“I’d been putting a little bit more money into my super since my first day of work in this role, more than 30 years ago,” he said.

“I’ve always had a long-term outlook, and it’s now paying off.”

Retiring with enough

Research shows millions of Australians are set to retire without enough money in their super to live what is considered to be a comfortable retirement.

According to figures from the Super Members Council, two out of three people are drawing more than the minimum required from their super in retirement.

Meanwhile, about 90 per cent of men and 80 per cent of women have spent all their super when they reach their life expectancy age.

That’s not just a personal problem, either, because with Australia’s ageing population the burden on public finances from rising pension spending is set to grow in coming decades.

Putting extra money away is easier said than done though, especially with rising living costs and soaring property prices placing extra financial strain on younger families and workers.

But the benefits of squirrelling even small amounts away early on can be huge in retirement because compounding returns build up significantly over a three- or four-decade career.

It means even a few hundred dollars now can become thousands in retirement later on, underscoring the value of talking to an independent financial adviser about your options.

That’s Benham’s message for young people and also governments, who she believes should be working harder to teach Australians the value of thinking about their financial futures.

“Get a financial adviser, someone to talk you through these things so you might know what you’ve really got to do to be comfortable later on,” Benham said.

“The government should be promoting it.”

The New Daily is owned by Industry Super Holdings

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