There is an avalanche of baby boomers who are retiring. The burning question for most of them is “How can I live on NZ Superannuation?” A couple who both qualify for NZ Superannuation receive around $576 a week after tax. That’s just under $30,000 a year. For people on an average or above average income, it is a significant drop.
Research released last year by the Commission for Financial Capability gives some clues. A survey of people aged 50 and over showed that most retirees have at least some savings and investments. Of those surveyed, only 28% said they had enough money to do all the things they wanted to do in retirement. Those without savings and investments were significantly more likely to be struggling to make ends meet. The conclusion is that NZ Superannuation is not enough to provide the kind of retirement most people want.
Everybody’s retirement expectations are different. Happiness in retirement comes when expectations can be met by available financial resources. The lower your resources, the lower your expectations will need to be in order to be happy. This might mean living in a cheaper house, moving to a small town where living costs are lower, finding pleasure from spending time with family and friends rather than expensive possessions or overseas travel, taking up hobbies that don’t incur big costs, and becoming more self-sufficient with food and energy. It is possible to live a happy but frugal life.
If you would rather increase your resources than lower your expectations, your options include continuing to work (perhaps part time), sharing your home with others, selling all or part of your house to family members, borrowing from family, or taking out a home equity loan. A happy retirement is all about cutting your coat according to your cloth.