How much should I save now to have enough when I retire?


Knowing your retirement savings goal is the first step to ensuring you'll have enough savings to last your lifetime once you retire. Here are some tips on how to calculate how much you'll need, and tips on how to catch up if you're behind.

One of the first steps to take when planning for retirement is getting a realistic idea of how much you'll need in total. This amount differs for each person. If you base it on maintaining your current standard of living, you can calculate it as a percentage of your current annual income.

Estimate a target goal

Many financial planners use a replacement ratio of 75% of your current salary. To set a target goal for this replacement ratio, a good estimate is to multiply your monthly salary by 200. The total you get is the amount you'd need if you retired today at a 75% replacement ratio. For example, say you currently earn R40 000 a month, which covers your living costs with some to spare. R40 000 x 200 = R8 000 000. So 8 million is around the total amount you'll need saved at retirement in today's terms.

Remember, the replacement ratio of 75% is just a rule of thumb, based on the assumption that you won't have a home loan or any other large debt by retirement age, so hopefully your monthly expenses will be lower. That said, people are living for longer, and medical expenses tend to rise after retirement, so speak to a financial advisor about what replacement ratio is realistic for you to work towards.

Know how much you need to retire

You can also use the table below to calculate how much you need to put towards retirement savings, based on when you start contributing.

As you can see in the above, the earlier you start, the less you'll need to save each month, and in total, to be financially independent and afford a comfortable retirement. The later you start, the more you'll need to save to achieve the same target goal.

Make the most of your time

The majority of us only start saving at age 28, if not later, instead of when we start working. But it's not just about catching up on the savings you've missed out on over the last couple of years - it's also about making up for the compounded returns.

You see, when you save, you earn interest on the savings you put in, plus interest on that growing amount of interest! In other words, your money can grow exponentially - as long as you leave it alone to accumulate for as long a period as possible.

Compounding is the simplest way to create wealth because money you have already saved keeps earning you more money. And the longer you wait to start saving, the more capital you will need to achieve the same goal. But don't let this discourage you - whatever stage you're at, the most important thing is to just start!

Practice healthy money habits to achieve your savings goal

In summary, there are three basic steps to achieve your retirement savings goal:

  1. Start as early as possible. This lets you benefit from compound growth, so you can save less as a percentage of your salary over your lifetime, and still achieve your retirement goal.
  2. Contribute consistently over time - discipline in saving can make or break your financial success.
  3. Always preserve your retirement savings if you change jobs.

For ideas on how to bump your retirement savings up to where they need to be, check these tips to boost your savings.

This article is not financial advice. Please consult with a financial adviser for financial advice.

Discovery Life Investment Services Pty (Ltd): Registration number 2007/005969/07, branded as Discovery Invest, is an authorised financial services provider. All life assurance products are underwritten by Discovery Life Ltd. Registration number: 1966/003901/06, a licensed life Insurer, an authorised financial service provider and registered credit provider, NCR Reg No. NCRCP3555. All boosts are offered through the insurer, Discovery Life Limited. The insurer reserves the right to review and change the qualifying requirements for boosts at any time. Product Rules, Terms and Conditions Apply. Discovery shall not be liable for any actions taken by any person based on the correctness of this information. For full details on the products, benefits and any conditions, please refer to the relevant fact file. For tailored financial advice, please contact your financial adviser.

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