Developing a retirement savings plan


While saving for retirement can seem somewhat daunting, there are a few simple strategies to use when planning your best financial future. Here’s how to get started today, to enjoy an even more rewarding tomorrow.  

How am I tracking to live the life I want in retirement?

There’s no magic number when it comes to retirement. To determine how much to save, it’s important to understand the type of retirement lifestyle you hope to enjoy. That will help you to determine how much annual income you might need to fund your future.

Creating a retirement savings plan can also help you understand what your desired retirement income might look like. Not only will this plan show how much you’ll need to save, it can also help you understand costs you may need to scale back to achieve your goals.

Strategies that may help you save for retirement

Unless you plan to rely solely on the age pension, which only provides for a very basic lifestyle, it may be worth looking at ways to boost your retirement savings in your final working years. There are a number of ways to do this.

Explore your super contributions

For starters, you may be able to increase your before-tax super (concessional) contributions. You could talk to your employer about making contributions via salary sacrifice, which is where part of your before-tax wage or salary is directed to super instead of being paid directly to you.

You may also be able to make a contribution out of your own pocket; earnings on your super savings are only taxed at 15%, but be aware of the contribution caps.1

Consider your spouse’s super

If you have a spouse or partner, it may be worth making a contribution to his or her fund. Once again, be aware as annual limits on super contributions do apply. Your financial adviser can help explain these limits. 

Explore your super investment strategy

Now may also be the time to review your super fund, to check your nominated investment strategy is in line with your tolerance for risk.

Pre-retirees may be tempted to shift their super into low risk, conservative options. But it could pay to have part of your retirement savings, including super, invested in growth assets to generate long-term capital gains. You can explore these options with a financial adviser.

Explore a transition to retirement pension

Another option to consider is using part of your super balance to purchase a transition to retirement pension. When combined with salary sacrifice super contributions, these pensions may help you put more money into your super without reducing your take-home pay.

Learn about how a Transition to Retirement pension could work for you, and the most recent changes to tax rules which may affect you.

Pay off the mortgage or grow super?

If you still have money owing on your home loan, you may be wondering whether it is better to use spare cash to pay down this debt or add the money to your super. It is a good idea to speak to your financial adviser, who would be able to advise the best option for your circumstances and the economic climate.

Lending a hand to the kids

You may have plans to give your adult children or grandchildren a financial helping hand when you are retired. Just be sure you have sufficient funds in place to secure your own lifestyle first before offering financial assistance.

What is a self-managed super fund?

A self-managed super fund (SMSF) can have real pluses, allowing you to have more control over how your super is invested, within superannuation and taxation laws.

In addition to determining if you have sufficient capital for an SMSF to be worthwhile, consider whether you want the added responsibility, as managing your own retirement savings comes with costs of its own.

Keep in mind there are also strict laws and regulations that govern SMSFs. As a trustee of your own super fund, you’re held responsible for your investments and complying with superannuation and taxation laws. Please ensure you consider the risks before setting up an SMSF.

Investments outside of super

Along with your superannuation, it may be a good idea to grow some of your investments outside of super. This may give you a diversified pool of funds to draw on, as well as providing some protection against any unexpected legislative changes to super.

Downsizing the family home

Downsizing to a smaller property could offer the benefit of a lower maintenance home and a way to access any potential home equity.

It is worth crunching the numbers to be sure downsizing puts you in front financially. The upfront purchase costs and stamp duty, in addition to ongoing costs, on your new home can take a bite out of your available cash.

There may be other options worth looking at, such as a reverse mortgages, which allow you to harness any home equity you may have without the need to sell a much-loved family home. But be aware of the rules around using reverse mortgages.

Downsizing the family home and making an additional super contribution

If you’re 55 or older, you may wish to consider whether a downsizer contribution is appropriate for you. Under these rules, you may be able to make an after-tax (non-concessional) contribution into superannuation of up to $300,000 for an individual or up to $600,000 for a couple from the proceeds of selling your principal residence. The usual contribution caps of $110,000 per year will not apply in this situation and it doesn’t matter what your super account balance is (you would usually only be able to make after-tax contributions if your total super balance is less than $1.9 million).

To be eligible for this measure, you must have owned the principal residence for at least 10 years prior to selling it. This may allow you to unlock the value of your home to help boost your retirement income. You should be aware that unlocking these savings may impact your entitlement to social security benefits, such as the age pension.

Next: Retirement lifestyle calculator

1 The Government has set caps on the amount of money you can add to superannuation each year on a concessional (before-tax) basis. The cap on before-tax contributions to super is $27,500 per financial year. In addition, the government has set a non-concessional (after-tax) contributions cap of $110,000 per financial year. Those under age 75 can ‘bring forward’ two years’ worth of personal contributions, allowing them to contribute up to $330,000 per person over a three-year period . You will also only be able to make after-tax (non-concessional) contributions if your total super balance is less than $1.9 million. For more detail, speak with a financial adviser or visit the ATO website.

Related content

Thinking about retirement, but not sure where to start? Get tips and information in our Planning for Retirement guide, to help you get started today.


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Things you should know

This information is current as at 1 July 2023.

This information has been prepared without taking account of your objectives, financial situation or needs. Because of this you should, before acting on this information, consider its appropriateness, having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs.

This information provides an overview or summary only and it should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter or relied upon as such.
Superannuation is a means of saving for retirement, which is, in part, compulsory. The government has placed restrictions on when you can access your investment held in superannuation. The Government has set caps on the amount of money that you can add to superannuation each year on both a concessional and non-concessional tax basis.  There will be tax consequences if you breach these caps.  For more detail, speak with a financial adviser or visit the ATO website.

Any tax considerations outlined above are general statements, based on an interpretation of the current tax law, and do not constitute tax advice.  The tax implications can impact individual situations differently and you should seek specific tax advice from a registered tax agent or registered tax (financial) adviser.

Any projections are predictive in character. Whilst we have used every effort to ensure that the assumptions on which the projections are based are reasonable, the projections may be affected by inaccurate assumptions or may not take into account known or unknown risks and uncertainties. The actual results actually achieved may differ materially from these projections.

This Information may contain material provided directly by third parties and is given in good faith and has been derived from sources believed to be accurate at its issue date. It should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter nor relied upon as such. While such material is published with necessary permission, no company in the Westpac Group accepts responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of, or endorses any such material. Except where contrary to law, we intend by this notice to exclude liability for this material.

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