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See our guide for the latest rates of NZ Super.

“Retirement is the best thing ever,” my mother-in-law told me the other day. It’s no wonder they’re immediately taking to their post-work lifestyle – my father-in-law has just stepped away from a 70-hour work week, after all. Let the enjoyment begin!

One of the best things we can all do to get prepared for those years after we finish up working – or getting on to all the other activities we’re keen on doing – is to keep a single number in mind. People who do tend to have the future more in focus.

Twenty-two thousand and thirty-nine dollars. That’s the new figure this year for NZ Super, or more precisely $22,039.16 per annum, $423.83 per week. (Let’s call it an even $424.) That’s the number for singles living alone; for couples it’s $33,906, or $652 a week.

Could you get by on that $22,039? Close to 40 percent of retirees presently do, and 60 percent depend on it for most of their income. But it’s easy to see that for many of us there will be a gap to fill between what the pension provides and what we’re hoping our retirement lifestyles might be like. Once we know the rate of NZ Super, almost 8 in 10 of us realise that we’ll need more income than that to live comfortably.

How much do we need to save fore retirement? It can be hard to visualise the future, so it helps to either look at what we currently spend to get an idea, or even look at what retirees today are spending for a “no frills” or “choices” lifestyle in the city or provinces. We may need to guesstimate a bit.

Why not play with the numbers? Sorted’s retirement planner lets us do just that. Sometimes astronomical figures get waved about these days in terms of how much we’ll need, and these can seem scary. But focusing on regular income instead of huge lump sums makes it much more manageable.

Planning for those years of enjoyment all comes down to seeing the gap between the rate of NZ Super and the weekly amount we’ll need. Let’s fill it by keeping that $22k in mind this year and making the most of KiwiSaver and investing.

And if you’ve already entered your post-work years, like my parents and in-laws, the younger generations need to hear from you about how time can work in their favour. The earlier we start planning for retirement, the better off we’ll be.

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