Is Emma’s retirement plan just a dream?

Emma hopes to retire at 60, but what does Noel Whittaker say?

Is retirement plan just a dream?

Emma is 53, working part-time and would like to retire at 60. She asks personal finance guru Noel Whittaker whether he believes she is on track.

Q. Emma
I am 53-year-old single woman working part-time. I have a current super balance of $197,000 and own my home, worth approximately $650,000.

I would like to retire at 60, and currently have annual super contributions of $8400. Do you think it is viable for me to retire on $40,000 per annum from age 60 when I can access my super?

If not, how, much do you think I should I be topping up my super from now until I turn 60?

A. It’s extremely difficult to forecast what may happen in seven years – the economic situation may be vastly different and pension eligibility may well be tightened. In any event, under current regulations you can’t access the pension until you are 67. This means, at the age of 60, you will need to support yourself for seven years.

My advice is to plough every spare dollar you have into superannuation, and try to put yourself in a situation where at age 60 there will be some part-time work available for you. That may well be in a different job to the one you are in now.

Do you have a question you’d like Noel to tackle? Email us at

Noel Whittaker is the author of Making Money Made Simple and numerous other books on personal finance. His advice is general in nature, and readers should seek their own professional advice before making any financial decisions.

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    Disclaimer: All content on YourLifeChoices website is of a general nature and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It has been prepared with due care but no guarantees are provided for the ongoing accuracy or relevance. Before making a decision based on this information, you should consider its appropriateness in regard to your own circumstances. You should seek professional advice from a financial planner, lawyer or tax agent in relation to any aspects that affect your financial and legal circumstances.


    To make a comment, please register or login
    26th Jun 2019
    Did not answer the question ?
    26th Jun 2019
    Who knows what changes the government will make to OUR money in super.
    26th Jun 2019
    One has to be careful when "giving advice" to anyone without knowing their full financial position
    26th Jun 2019
    Emma's objective to retire at age 60 on $40,000 will be much easier if this period of low interest rates is behind us. Optimistically Emma will have a potential super balance near $400,000 at 60 and will then need to spend half of that until pension eligibility. She would need a crystal ball to confidently predict the retirement planning rules in the lead up to her becoming eligible for the pension in 2033, or later.
    26th Jun 2019
    Thing is its probably best for her to arrange affairs so that she qualifies for the full aged pension. Dont recall the exact amounts but she would need about $600K in assessable super balance to get the return the full aged pension delivers.

    26th Jun 2019
    By leaving most funds in super, only taking out a small amount each month she would qualify for New Start and by doing volunteer work she might not even have to look for a part time job. Some in my neighborhood are doing exactly that - gets them out of the house and still have an income of about $400 a week. Owning her own place and taking another $100 per week out of super should be enough for Emma. But I agree with the comment above that the Govt could change many rules in the next 7 years.
    26th Jun 2019
    Get so sick and tired of people - anyone saying - 'just get a casual or part time job when you retire'. I got shafted out of my job as soon as I approached 65 (with 9 months still to go to Aged Pension) and being 'too rich' for Newstart, had to delve into super to survive. In the nearly 20 months since, I have applied for over 225 jobs, everything from cleaning to baby sitting, dog minding and pet care, shop assistance to supermarket job. ONLY job I was offered was delivering flowers - and now know why - it worked out at around $6 an hour, PLUS I had to pay for my own petrol. That lasted 5 weeks. Trouble is - for nearly every job now, they want a certificate. Saw a casual job working at a vet - but needed a certificate. Even shop assistants - now they want a certificate. Casual job at medical centre (my area of expertise)? - want a certificate. My 20+ years experience, not enough.
    Not applicable to me, but was a recent job looking for a 16yo - said 'must have RSA (Responsible Serving of Alcohol Certificate). WHY? - they are too young to be serving alcohol!
    Funny how it always wealthy people who think it is easy to pick up a job anywhere.
    26th Jun 2019
    Perhaps you could have applied for the bar job for 2 years until the kid turned 18? RSA certificate takes less than a day and can be done on line!
    26th Jun 2019
    A 16-year-old can start in the back room shifting all the boxes of wines around, preparing them for sale, etc. As long as he/she does not serve the public everything is OK. Having an RSA Cert is a bonus as the person concerned has had no prior problems with the law and after his/her 18th birthday can be shifted to front bar duties without concerns. A few years ago that would have sounded stupid but with so many juveniles up to mischief it makes sense that someone else has already vetted them before employment. The next step would be the gaming licence. - I have been in the industry for many years.
    Old Geezer
    26th Jun 2019
    If only working part time then do t h e sums as it may be better to invest in your iwn name not super.
    27th Jun 2019
    I'm in a similar situation (tho I'm 58 nxt month & work full time shift work, which is slowly killing me physically & mentally & wish to retire before it does so i can spend some of my life actually enjoying it which is not possible at the mome- it sucks that some think we can do this gig til we are 70!!) & have been wondering & wishing all the same stuff re retiring at 60! Readers comments here are a lot more helpful than the actual answer.. If only we could plan accurately, instead of all the maybe's & what ifs! So frustrating! If we are not up with the game it can cost us so dearly & it should not be this way! It should be simple!! Even far less hope for a single person (without a carer) if they develop dementia or such & cannot deal with all of this financial drama!!
    Just me.
    27th Jun 2019
    I did it . Retired at 59. Go see the FIS guy at Centrelink and get the exact aount you can put into an income stream (mine was about 93k) without it affecting Newstart. Then, sit yourself down with Centrelink personnel, tell them you want to do voluntary work (think its about 5 hours per week) and then collect Newstart, including all the allowances for electricity, rates, rego etc. Find volunteering rewarding and as I own my own home, and it's a great way to get off the treadmill much earlier than the powers that be would like us to believe.
    28th Jun 2019
    Did it at 58, no Newstart, lived on my super but was given a low income health care card, allowing electricity discount, bulk billing but no council rate reduction. Of course in the 7 years my super was almost used up but I enjoyed my time away from the grindstone. Realise that is not for everyone but when you have no children it is an easy decision not to save all the money into old age.
    Chris B T
    28th Jun 2019
    As Cowboy Jim Did,you can in most Super Funds allowed 4 Draw Downs per year so no need to Deplete Funds in one go.
    This way you still enjoy some of the Benefits of The Super Fund, if doesn't suit you no Great Harm. Just go back to work.
    Self Control on spending is the main concern.
    Retirement from work is How You Feel and Your Circumstances.
    Good Luck.

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