New Zealanders' retirement funds likely not enough to live off, expert says

As the cost of living skyrockets in New Zealand, it can be hard to think about the future, especially when it comes to retirement.

However, Auckland University of Technology's Ayesha Scott said New Zealand's superannuation fund most likely won't be enough for people to retire with.

"We know that the vast majority of New Zealanders are worried about their retirement and being able to afford it. The numbers tell us they’re right to be concerned," Scott told The Project.

We've had 15 years of Kiwisaver, yet 40 percent of us have a balance of less than $10,000. 

"Not enough savings means a life without choices. It potentially means living below the poverty line," Scott said.

"Not owning your own home is a big disadvantage if you don't have a level of savings that is going to cover your rent over your lifetime."

The gender pay gap has also played a part, with men having 20 percent more retirement savings than women.

"This is because women get paid less and spend less time in the workforce," Scott said.

Scott added being single later in life can also be a disadvantage.

Let’s look at a few scenarios. Now, these numbers include NZ Super and in the scenarios, these Kiwis are paying three percent of their income into their retirement fund and are living until they're 90.

Frankie is 23. They are single and have the average for their age group saved. That’s $8000 and at 38 they might buy a house. Their projected Kiwisaver balance at 65 is $350,000, which gives them $1100 a week to live off.

Ishani is 36. She is married and has $26,000 saved. Her husband has 20 percent more saved just because he’s a dude. By the time the couple is 65, they’ll have $840,000. Which is $1800 a week to live off. Ishani is pregnant with twins, so that will change things too.

Jason is 43. He is in a de facto relationship and has $36,000 saved. His partner has the same. Things are rocky between them, but if they stay together they will have $570,000 by 65 and $1500 a week to live off. They will be renting, so that’ll take a bite.

Carla is 52. She lives with two cats and has $45,000 saved. This will be $160,000 in 13 years' time, that's $900 a week to retire on. Carla plans on working longer and getting a friend to move in for extra income.

But according to Massey University, those savings won't be enough.

They said a retiring couple, relying only on New Zealand Superannuation, needs to have saved $809,000​ to fund a life in the city. Those in the provinces will need only $511,000.

"If you're worried about your retirement saving, the best approach is to understand where you are now, make sure you risk setting and your savings rate is high enough for what you're aiming for," Scott said.

"When you take control of your financial situation, you feel better about it."