How to start planning your retirement

15 Mar 2022 5 min read

Retirement is a fresh start. You’re no longer restricted by the need to work; you have time to pursue your passions and experience everything you’ve dreamed of doing.

But a great retirement doesn’t appear from thin air — to make it happen, you’ll need a plan. Here are some important questions to ask yourself when planning for retirement.

How will you spend your retirement?

The first step in retirement planning is thinking about how you want to spend your life after work. Maybe you want to travel the world or invest in a new hobby.

You might like to get a pen and paper and brainstorm some retirement ideas. Of course, the grander your retirement plans, the more money you’ll need to make them happen. And it’s not just the big goals you’ll need to fund — you’ll still need money to cover your basic living expenses, which are likely to change (and, in some cases, increase) in retirement. Which brings us to question 2 …

How much retirement income will you need?

Each year, the life expectancy of Australians increases — most of us can expect to live into our early to mid-80s.1 Since you’ll likely have to wait until you’re 60 to access your super, you may need enough money to cover around 20 years’ worth of life expenses, if not more.

Some of the bigger expenses to think about when retirement planning include:

  • paying your mortgage
  • renovating your home
  • travel
  • medical costs.

The industry retirement standard from the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) estimates that a couple will need $690,000 of super to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle2 in retirement, while a single would need at least $595,000.

To check if you’re on track, use our super retirement calculator to estimate your projected super balance and how long it could last you when you retire. You can also take our retirement quiz to get an idea of how much you’ll need.

Remember, how your super is invested has an impact on your future super balance. At NGS Super, we have a range of investment options to suit your personal objectives, timeframes, and risk tolerance. If you’re not sure which investment options suit you best, you can get help from our Financial Advice Helpline. Call 1300 133 177 to book an appointment — this service is free to NGS members.

When can you access your super?

Usually, you will need to meet a ‘condition of release’ before you can access the money in your superannuation account.

Conditions of release include:

  • retiring at or after preservation age (more detail below)
  • ceasing a gainful employment arrangement on or after age 60
  • reaching 65 years of age (whether working or retired).

Your preservation age is the earliest age you can access your super and is not necessarily the same as your retirement age (when you stop working).

Your preservation age depends on your date of birth as set out below:

Your date of birth Preservation age
Before 1 July 1963 You’ve already reached your preservation age
1 July 1963–30 June 1964 59
After 30 June 1964 60

Some people may be able to access their super before their preservation age, for example, if they’re experiencing severe financial hardship or suffer from a specific medical condition.

You should also be aware of the various tax implications when withdrawing your super.

Access your super in retirement    Access your super

How will you access your super?

Withdrawing your super balance is not the only way to access your super. Instead, you could use your super as a form of regular income, so you’d receive periodic payments, just like if you were working.

To create a retirement income stream, you can open an NGS Income account and get regular tax-free3 payments to the bank account of your choice.4 This option means your super remains invested and earning returns.5 It also reduces the temptation to spend all your retirement savings at once.

NGS Income account    Download fact sheet

Will you transition into retirement?

Retirement doesn’t need to happen overnight. If eligible, you could look at transitioning into retirement by accessing some of your super and reducing your work days until you’re fully retired. An NGS Transition to retirement (TTR) account lets you access up to 10% of your balance, so you can offset your salary shortfall when you transition to fewer working days.

It can also be used as a great tax-saving strategy — learn more about this on our Transition to retirement page and fact sheet.

Transition to retirement    Download fact sheet

Do I need advice?

Preparing for retirement can seem daunting, but it doesn’t need to. Getting help from an expert can give you security and confidence about what’s ahead. A financial planner can create a plan that suits your goals and circumstances, so you can make the most of your personal situation. At NGS, we have a team of Certified Financial Planners® accessible to both NGS and non-NGS members. Your first appointment is complimentary, with no obligation to continue if you feel it’s not for you. Find out what you can expect from a financial planning appointment, or request to book an appointment online.

What to expect from financial planning    Request an appointment

Ready to start retirement planning?

We get that life is busy now, and retirement planning probably seems like a distant concern. But taking the time to build a retirement plan will give you peace of mind, knowing that you’ll enjoy financial security when you stop working.

To find out more about retirement and how it works with super, explore the Retirement section of our website.


1 Information sourced from
2 ‘Comfortable lifestyle’ accounts for daily essentials like groceries, transport, home repairs, private health insurance, a range of exercise and leisure activities and the occasional restaurant meal. It also covers the cost of technology (like internet and phone connections), an annual domestic trip and an international trip once every 7 years. For more detail, go to
3 Super income stream payments are tax free if you’re over age 60.
4 The bank account must be solely or jointly in your name.
5 All investments carry some risk, and investment returns are not guaranteed. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.

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