How I want to retire: Rebecca Robertson

Rebecca Robertson with her two children.
Rebecca Robertson with her two children.

Retirement. It’s where we’re all headed but planning for it is often put on the back burner.

In this three-part series, Newshub chats to everyday Kiwis about how they want to live when they retire: their assets, goals and how much money they think they’ll need. We’re focusing on people at three distinct life stages – an ambitious go-getter in the prime of their career, a young couple early in their savings journey, and a busy working mum.

This month, Rebecca Robertson, a 40-year-old mum of two shares why it's important for people to contribute to KiwiSaver to save for their retirement. At the end, a short analysis by her KiwiSaver provider Milford looks at whether her KiwiSaver savings are currently on track for retirement.

Hearing other peoples’ stories can be helpful for informing decisions and providing inspiration to move forward. But we also encourage you to think about your own goals - and get financial advice.

KiwiSaver member profile: Rebecca Robertson, 40-year-old mum of two and mortgage broker assistant

1. How long have you been in KiwiSaver and what prompted you to become a member?

Around 14 years. I joined Milford in 2012 and before that, had been in a KiwiSaver default fund for around five years.

When I first started KiwiSaver, I knew I was doing something for the future. I didn't actively join; it was through my employer. It was automatic and contributions just came out of my pay.

When I changed employment 18 months' ago and filled out the KiwiSaver forms again, that's when I made a conscious effort to increase my contribution rate (to 4 percent).  

I realised I was getting older and earning more, therefore could put in a bit more. 

2. How important is it to save for retirement?

It's hugely important. We need a buffer.

Mortgage-free or not, if expenses are $1000 per week and someone's only got $60,000 saved, they'll chew through it quickly.

Managing a savings account requires people to be super strict. I put $100 per week savings in another account but something always comes up - I'm always using it.

I feel better knowing I've got KiwiSaver in the background to use in retirement

3. What are your retirement goals and what age would you like to retire?

I don't have a figure (or age) in mind - I'll just keep contributing to KiwiSaver.

I want to keep working part-time for as long as I can...perhaps until 70.

We live within our means and I want to continue to do that - I don't have huge expectations around lifestyle.

In ten years, I assume the kids may be leaving home, I might be earning more and I can increase my contributions then, as I’ll be able to afford to.  

We're hoping we'll have ten or more years of not having a mortgage prior to retirement.  At that point, we're likely to be able to save more and increase our KiwiSaver contributions then.

4. Aside from your home and KiwiSaver, do you have any other investments

No, just savings accounts for the kids.

5. How confident are you that your KiwiSaver savings are on track?

I feel confident we're going to have enough to live on.

I joined Milford nine years ago and I plan to keep it going.

I haven't crunched the numbers and worked out my expenses to see how much more I might be able to contribute. 

But I would like to know how much my KiwiSaver balance might be if I contribute an extra $10 per week (or 6 percent instead of 4 percent).

That would encourage me to contribute more.

6. Have you ever sought financial advice?  

No - I just swapped my KiwiSaver to Milford and forgot about it.  

At this stage, we've got a home and KiwiSaver and aren't looking at other investments.

Being the age that I am, I would be happy to look at whether I should be in an aggressive fund or whether I should split my savings across funds. I just haven't instigated the conversation.

7. Have you hit any 'hurdles' saving for retirement and how did you overcome them?   

No. A few years ago we got into a little credit card debt.

I considered the KiwiSaver savings suspension as an option but I didn't want to - it was an absolute last resort. 

We refinanced to another bank so we could consolidate our debt and just repay it on the mortgage.

8. What would you say to people finding it difficult to save for their retirement?

Try to put in as much into KiwiSaver as possible.

Instead of putting $20 in KiwiSaver and trying to put $20 in another account, if it's affordable, put the whole $40 into KiwiSaver. 

KiwiSaver is automatic - the money comes out and the savings tick away in the background.   

After three years, there could be the option to use those savings towards a house deposit.

The Milford App
The Milford App

The Milford team's view: How is Rebecca tracking?

Well done Rebecca on taking time to reflect on your KiwiSaver, and what you want to achieve by retirement. We understand how tough it can be to raise a family and to start putting funds away for retirement, so the fact you’ve done this is a testament to your forward thinking and planning.

Rebecca has already taken several steps to improve her future – including contributing regularly to KiwiSaver and actively choosing her KiwiSaver provider and fund.

It’s great to see Rebecca has considered her contribution rate. This is an important part of how much a KiwiSaver investor will have in retirement. If a person can afford to contribute more to KiwiSaver, it can be a powerful way to grow their savings. In general, if a person has a long time until retirement and they continue contributing consistently, it can add thousands of dollars to their retirement.

When looking at Rebecca’s fund selection she is currently invested in our Active Growth Fund.

When choosing a fund, we recommend taking into account the following three points:

Your goal

Identifying a goal for KiwiSaver can be tricky. With retirement often being 25+ years away for members they may not know how much money they’ll need to live on. It’s worth considering what sort of lifestyle you’d like to live – for example, a simple, no-frills retirement? Or a luxurious retirement?

Your investment time horizon

Identifying how long until you’ll begin to withdraw your money is the second key consideration. For Rebecca she has 30 years until she intends to retire and begin withdrawing.

Your tolerance for risk or volatility

Lastly, and often considered the most important factor, is investing within your risk tolerance. If you want higher returns, you generally have to take higher risk and endure more ups and downs in your investment. The “sleep test” is an idea we often discuss with members. Can you tolerate being invested in a fund without losing sleep due to its rise and fall in value?

Considering the above three points will help you identify the most appropriate fund for your KiwiSaver investment. If you’re not feeling confident at this stage, getting advice is a good option. At Milford, we offer access to Financial Advisers as well as Digital Advice. This can help you answer those tricky questions and give you confidence you’re choosing the most appropriate Milford KiwiSaver Fund for you.

Thank you Rebecca, for entrusting us with your hard-earned savings, and we look forward to continuing to partner with you in the years ahead.

Disclaimer: The views expressed by the interview participants are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Milford. This article is intended to provide general information about things to think about in relation to KiwiSaver. It does not take into account your investment needs or personal circumstances. Before making any financial decisions, you may wish to seek financial advice. The disclosure statements of all Milford Financial Advisers contain more information and are available on request free of charge. Read the Milford KiwiSaver Plan Product Disclosure Statement as issued by Milford Funds Limited at Please note, past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. To see our Financial Advice Disclosure Statement, please see here.

This article was created for Milford