by: Stephen McMahon
From: Herald Sun
August 09, 2012 12:00AM
THE STATISTICS… What you need to live a modest or comfortable life in retirement. Source: HWT Image Library
RISING health and electricity costs have seen the annual income needed by a retired couple for a comfortable lifestyle exceed $55,000 a year for the first time.
The latest Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia research shows annual electricity costs for retirees rocketed 10.6 per cent to more than $2500 in the past 12 months.
This is outstripped by health costs with the recent surge in insurance premiums pushing the annual cost to $6624 per couple.
Overall costs are up only 1.1 per cent with the big falls in food costs and recreation offsetting some of the rise in utility costs.
“We get loads of complaints from our members about how they are struggling to make ends meet due to the rising cost of living pressures such as electricity and gas bills”
Research shows the average couple need a lump sum of about $500,000 – split 50:50 between superannuation savings and the pension – to survive for about 20 years in retirement.
“The quality of retirement directly depends on how much money people have,” ASFA chief executive Pauline Vamos said.
“People need to look at all their assets ranging from investment properties to the pension.”
The report shows couples willing to adopt a “modest” lifestyle can survive on $31,700 a year, while singles get by on $22,000.
National Seniors, a lobby group for over-50s, warned that cost-of-living pressures were a major challenge.
“Retired people are at home more and often have higher heating and electricity costs, and with those prices rising they are having a disproportionate impact on seniors,” chief executive Michael O’Neill said.
“We get loads of complaints from our members about how they are struggling to make ends meet due to the rising cost of living pressures such as electricity and gas bills.”
The biggest difference between a modest and a comfortable lifestyle is spending on leisure, with retirees that have accumulated a good-sized nest egg able to allocate around $15,000 a year for travel and recreation.
Retirees struggling to make ends meet have only $3700, or $70 a week, for leisure pursuits.
ASFA rates a “modest” lifestyle as better than the age pension, but they can afford only basic activities.
Retirees branded as “comfortable” can afford a broad range of hobbies, international holidays, private health insurance and a reasonable car.
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