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How much super should I have in my 40s?

Find out if you’re on track for a comfortable retirement.
Published 30 May 2024   |   3 min read

It’s good to review your super balance at any age – it’s your retirement savings after all, and small tweaks along the way can make a big difference to the amount you have to spend later in life.  

In your 40s, planning for retirement can take on even greater significance than in your younger years.

Because you’ve had a reasonable amount of time in the workforce, your earnings potential has likely risen, along with your super account balance. Time is still on your side, but there are some actions you can take today to set yourself up for an even better retirement in the future. 

Here’s a quick guide to help you kick your retirement goals into the next gear. 


Woman on her laptop checking her super balance


How much super should I have?

This is never a simple answer, as your super balance now depends on the kind of life you’d like to live in retirement. For this exercise, we’ll use the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) retirement standards. 

ASFA outlines two living standards, ‘comfortable’ and ‘modest.’ It suggests a comfortable retirement requires around $690,000 in the bank for couples and $595,000 for singles, or around $100,000 in the bank at retirement for a ‘modest’ lifestyle.

You can use tools like the Super Balance Detective to see if you’re on-track today – for instance the tool calculates a 40-year-old would need $156,000 in their super account today be on-track to retire comfortably at age 67.  

Before making any changes, you should consider your personal tax circumstances or seek tax advice. Find out more from the ATO website

What if my super balance is lower?

Don’t panic if your super balance is below the AFSA comfort level, as you’ve still got time to build your savings. In your 40s, you could have income earning potential on your side, but you could also have some debt to contend with.

Whatever your personal situation, with time and income-earning potential on your side, you have more options to boost your future retirement balance if you want to play catch up. 

Here are a few things you could consider doing now that may contribute to boosting your super:  

  1. Contribute more: Increasing your super contributions is one of the best ways to build your balance, particularly in your 40s during the peak earning period of your life. This makes salary sacrificing, where you divert a portion of your pre-tax income into your super fund through your employer, even more powerful than at other times. You can also make additional contributions to your super, which can also be claimed as a tax deduction, as long as you haven't reached your contribution limit.
  2. Consolidate your debt: When you’re in your 40s, you’re statistically likely to have the highest level of debt of any age – 1.7 times the average Australian household, according to the ABS1. Any payment you’re making towards interest payments means less money going into your pocket at the end of the day, decreasing your ability make concessional contributions or salary sacrifice contributions at a favourable tax rate. Consolidating your debt to lower interest rates can make debt more manageable, freeing up more money for retirement savings.    
  3. Consider your investment options: Review your investment option to make sure it’s aligned to your risk tolerance and retirement goals. You may still have a reasonable runway to retirement in your 40s, but your life situation may have progressed, whether that means you have more dependents than you did in your 30s, or more assets to your name. Changes to your situation could change your risk tolerance. Checking in to make sure you’ve got the right mix of growth and stability for your situation at this age makes sense. 

What if my super balance is higher?

Retirement might feel like it’s some way off, but your idea of what a good retirement looks like could have changed from when you were in your 30s. Further, the concept of retirement might be getting a lot more real in your 40s, as you start seeing your parents – or your friends’ parents – playing out their own retirement stories. If you’re ahead of the game, that’s great, so use it to your advantage. 

Here are some things you could consider doing now to potentially supercharge retirement planning in your 40s: 

  1. Spousal contributions: This is a way for couples to boost the retirement savings of a lower-income spouse, while offsetting the taxable income of the contributing spouse at the same time. Working together can help couples to prepare for retirement, and spousal contributions are a good example of how the rules can be utilized to do this is certain circumstances. 
  2. Check your investment option: You may have the tolerance to either dial up or dial down your risk depending on your circumstances and time to retirement. While younger people are generally able to take more risk because they have a longer investing time horizon, they might also choose to be more defensive to avoid bumps along the way. How you’re invested outside your super can also determine whether you want your retirement savings to be more skewed towards growth or stability. 
  3. See a financial adviser: Because super starts getting ‘real’ for people in their 40s and beyond for the reasons mentioned above, its often when financial advice can come into play. Superannuation is still one of the most tax-effective ways to save and invest for retirement because the government’s concessions and incentives. Financial advice can provide piece of mind you’re maximizing super at the same time as understanding your overall position by setting the right financial goals. 

While retirement may still be a fair way off in the distance, it’s not so far away that you can’t picture it. There’s no better time to get really clear about the type of retirement lifestyle you want and take action to achieve it. 

The information is of a general nature and is not intended to provide you with financial advice or take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on the information, consider its appropriateness to your circumstances and read the Financial Services Guide (FSG), relevant product disclosure statement (PDS) and Target Market Determination (TMD) available on our website. You may wish to seek financial advice from an authorised financial adviser before making an investment decision. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. Interests in the Australian Ethical Retail Superannuation Fund (ABN 49 633 667 743, USI AET0100AU) are offered by Australian Ethical Investment Limited (ABN 47 003 188 930, AFSL 229949) and issued by the Trustee of the Fund, Australian Ethical Superannuation Pty Limited (ABN 43 079 259 733, RSE L0001441, ASFL 526 055). 

Superannuation is a means of saving for retirement, which is, in part, compulsory. The government has placed restrictions on when you can access your investments held in superannuation. The Government has set caps on the amount of money that you can add to your superannuation each year and over your lifetime on both a concessional and non-concessional tax basis. There will be tax consequences if you breach these caps. For more detail, speak with a financial adviser or registered tax agent or visit the ATO website. 


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