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When you retire, you get to choose how much to withdraw from your super each year. You can work out how much money you'll need to live comfortably in retirement in just a few simple steps.

Key points:
  • Your money may need to last around 30 years (or even longer)1. It’s important to think about how much you can withdraw without having to worry about it running out.
  • The Government sets a minimum amount of super you have to withdraw every year. But you can withdraw more than this amount to live on during your retirement. You can also change the amount you want to withdraw each year.
  • There are some expenses you won’t need when you retire, which could lower your cost of living.
  • Whether you’re on your way to retirement or retired, we have simple tools to help you work out how much money you'll need to live comfortably - without running out.

Australian Government Actuary Source: Australian Life Tables 2015-17

When you retire, you can make your money last even longer - by keeping it invested in super, which has significant tax benefits. Not only are investment earnings completely tax-free, but the income you withdraw is also tax-free if you’re over 60. And with investment earnings on your super balance alone making up as much as 40% of your retirement income, this could be a huge saving.

About to retire?

As you get ready for retirement, it's a good idea to know how much super you'll need to withdraw each year. It’s easy to work out how you’ll need to maintain your current lifestyle – all it takes is a few simple steps.

How to find out how much money you’ll need in retirement

There are a couple of easy ways to work out how much you can withdraw.

Step 1. Look back at your total after-tax income for the last financial year. You can find this on your tax return.

Step 2. Subtract any money you saved. Make sure you include any extra (voluntary) contributions you made to super.

Step 3. Subtract the income you used to pay your debts, such as your mortgage or a car loan.

The amount left over is about how much you spent on your lifestyle last year.

For example, Sarah has total after-tax income of $60,000 per year. She contributes $5,000 to super each year. Sarah uses $10,000 per year to pay off her car loan, school fees and mortgage. The amount left over is how much she spends on her lifestyle each year, which is $45,000.

Sarah’s current lifestyle spending:

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After-tax income
Savings and contributions -$5,000
Debts and other expenses -$10,000
Current lifestyle spending $45,000

Now you have a realistic figure for how much you currently spend on your lifestyle.

And remember, if the amount you choose doesn’t meet your retirement needs, you can change at any time.

When you retire, you might be eligible for the Government Age Pension. This regular payment means you may not need to withdraw as much from your super to live comfortably.

Check if you’re eligible for the Government Age Pension.

You can then subtract the pension amount from your annual spend to work out how much you'll need to withdraw from super each year.

Sarah's living expenses will be a bit lower in retirement - because she’s paid off her mortgage and school fees. So if she takes this amount from her current lifestyle spending, she’s left with $42,000. This is about how much she’ll need in retirement. ($45,000 - $3,000 = $42,000).

Sarah’s retirement lifestyle spending:

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Current lifestyle spending
Debts paid off -$3,000
Retirement lifestyle spending $42,000

Change your income payments

Already retired

If you're retired, you might be able to withdraw more super than you think - without running out of money. Working out how much money you'll need to live comfortably is easy and can be done in a few simple steps.

Work out how much super you can withdraw each year by tracking your living expenses.

You can add up your weekly expenses below, then multiply that amount by 52 weeks to give you an annual spend.

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Expense item Spend ($ / week) for a single person
Housing (rent or mortgage) $120
Food $125
Electricity and gas $38
Household goods and services $75
Health $162
Leisure $172
Transport $128
Clothing and footwear $28
Total weekly spending $848
Total annual spending $44,096

How much detail you include in your budget is up to you. You can use a rough guide to the expense categories above. Or you can go into much more detail and get a more accurate estimate using a budget planner.

Find out more at

This tool gives you a retirement income to aim towards if you want to maintain your current lifestyle. Most people will need around 70% of their current take-home pay in retirement. It’s a good place to start. But keep in mind, how much you may need will change depending on your expenses and what you earn now.

If you spend most of your income on daily living expenses, you'll probably need more than 70% of your take-home pay. If you don't spend much of your take-home pay on living expenses, you might not as much.

Target income tool

If you get the Government Age Pension, you can find out how much you get each fortnight from your latest bank statement. Multiply this figure by 26 to get your annual amount.

You can then subtract this from your annual spend to work out how much you'll need to withdraw from super each year.

Check if you’re eligible for the Government Aged Pension


Case Study – Eliza, 67 years old and single.

Eliza is 67 and has just retired. She lives by herself in a house she owns and has paid off her mortgage. She has $150,000 in super but very few other assets, only a small amount in savings.

She works out that her annual spend in retirement will be $38,000. She then checks how much Government Age Pension she could be eligible for.

Using the Centrelink Payment Finder, tool Eliza works out that she’s entitled to about $25,000 per year.

Because Eliza is eligible for $25,000 a year, she only needs to withdraw $13,000 from her super. She calls her super fund to start an account-based pension and tells them she wants $13,000 in income payments each year.

($38,000 - $25,000 = $13,000)


Case study - Marg and Gino, 70-year-old married couple.

Marg and Gino are both 70 years old and retired. As high-income earners, they’ve lived a very comfortable life while working.

They own their home and together have paid off their mortgage. They have about $600,000 combined in their super accounts. They also have a holiday house worth about $450,000.

Marg and Gino need a total of $70,000 a year together to continue to live to the same standard as they are today.

Using the Centrelink Payment Finder tool, they work out that they don't meet the criteria to get the Government Age Pension. This is because of the value of their assets outside their family home.

Marg and Gino will need to use their super and their rental income to fund their retirement.

Why your expenses will change in retirement

Your biggest living expenses when you’re working are usually a bit different from what they will be once you’re retired. Here are the top 5 living expenses for people who are working compared to the top five of retirees:

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Top 5 expense categories
Working* Retirement**
Housing costs Food – groceries and other fresh food
Food and non-alcoholic beverages Health services
Transport Leisure
Recreation Transport
Miscellaneous goods and services Housing costs

*Australian Bureau of Statistics, Household Expenditure Survey, Australia: Summary of Results 2015-16 financial year
**ASFA Retirement Standard for retirees December quarter 2021

Looking at these expenses is a good place to start thinking about what your big costs might be, or what you may not be paying for once you retire. [JE36] For example.

  • Will you pay more or less on food?
  • How might your healthcare costs change?
  • How many holidays will you take a year?
  • What will your social life look like?
  • Will there be changes to your routine? A hobby or volunteer work
  • Will your mortgage be paid off?
  • Will you still be paying as much in daily travel once you stop working?
  • Will you still need more than one car?

You can use our Forecast Your Budget Worksheet to work out how much you'll spend in retirement, based on your current living expenses.

You might be able to spend more than you think without running out of money

Did you know that more than half of retirees older than 65 today only withdraw the minimum amount of super? This means they often unintentionally leave 30%-50% of their super balance behind when they die.

If you're only withdrawing the minimum amount of super, you may be able to take out more each year without running out of money.

Can you give yourself a pay rise?

It’s a good idea to work out how much you can confidently afford to withdraw over the next 12 months. If you’re taking out less than you can afford, you may be able to give yourself a pay rise.

Related information

Where to next?

Explore retirement webinars

Join our experts as they break down super and finances into easy-to-understand topics through our live webinar education series.

Download the retire-ready checklist

There’s a lot to think about and the decisions you make now could change the future you have. Start with the retire-ready checklist.

How much you can afford to withdraw in retirement

As you get ready for retirement, it's a good idea to know how much super you'll need to withdraw each year. It’s easy to work out how you’ll need to maintain your current lifestyle