It is never too late to start saving - Crossan

KAT PICKFORD
Last updated 12:52 28/12/2012

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While shoppers assess their Christmas overspend and new year revellers begin splashing out on next week's festivities, the retirement commission is reminding people it is never too late to start saving.

Retirement commissioner Diana Crossan said the habit of putting money aside should be started as early as possible, but should be a priority for the 15 per cent of the region's population aged between 55 and 64.

It is most important to pay off mort-gages and high-interest debt, such as hire purchases and credit cards, she said.

"If you get to 55 and have not started saving, it's not too late," she said.

"You should at least try to pay off the mortgage because retirement is very hard in New Zealand if you don't own your own home."

The biggest mistake Kiwis make when planning for retirement is underestimating how long they will live and how much money they need, she said.

A 65-year-old man today is expected to live to be 86, and a woman of the same age has life expectancy of 88.

New Zealand has the highest proportion of people working past the age of 50 in western countries, she said.

"Retirement is no impediment to keep working and get the pension."

"I encourage people with low levels of savings to try and keep it for when they get to 70."

Preparation is crucial for planning a retirement budget, she said.

The New Zealand money management website - sorted.org.nz - provides budgeting advice including a calculator to work out retirement incomes and making the most of entitlements.

According to the website, a 60 year-old man and a 55-year-old woman planning on retiring at 65 with a combined Kiwisaver of $200,000 and government pension of $537 a week will have a retirement income of $742 a week.

If they want a retirement income of $800 a week, they will face a shortfall of $83,467, and will need to save an extra $629 a week to achieve their goal.

A 64-year-old man and 62-year-old woman planning on retiring at 65 with no retirement savings, will be able to retire comfortably if their costs do not exceed their combined government pension of $537 a week.

However if they want to retire with an income of $600 a week, they face a shortfall of $87,472 and will be required to save an extra $5,190 a week until they retire.

Around 40 per cent of retired Kiwis live on New Zealand Superannuation alone, she said.

"Most do find it a struggle, even an extra $20 a week can make a big difference to your lifestyle."


RETIREMENT PLANNING

Start living in the black.

Save to spend instead of using credit.

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Become mortgage-free.

Rent or mortgage payments affect your potential to save for retirement, and consume your income in retirement.

Plan your retirement income now.

Today's 65-year-old males can expect to live until 86; and 65-year old women can expect to live until 88.

Think about the unexpected.

Make sure you have adequate insurance, and set aside three months' expenses.

Be prepared to stay on at work. You may not be able to retire as soon as you had hoped.

- The Marlborough Express

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