How Much KiwiSaver Do You Need for Retirement?

Your KiwiSaver fund is your golden egg for retirement. But if you don’t have enough tucked away, it may be less golden than you think. So how much KiwiSaver do you need for retirement?

According to research conducted by the Financial Services Council (FSC), 64% of Kiwis are concerned about not having enough tucked away for retirement. And 70% believe they’ll have to keep working past 65 to fund their retirement. Those are worrying stats.

Retirement is one of those things that seems distant and unimportant while young. And then, by the time we get older and start to worry, it’s often too late. That’s where KiwiSaver comes in. KiwiSaver is designed to help Kiwis kickstart their retirement funds early, to maximise their returns and ensure they can afford to live comfortably throughout retirement. So how much KiwiSaver do you need for retirement? Canstar takes a look.

In this article, we cover:

How much do I need for retirement?

Before looking at how much KiwiSaver you need, you need to know what type of retirement lifestyle you want to fund. And new research from Massey University breaks it down into two budgets:

  • No Frills: a basic standard of living that includes few, if any, luxuries
  • Choices: a more comfortable standard of living, including some luxuries and treats

Currently, to fund either of these lifestyles, either as a single or part of a couple, requires income of, roughly:

Weekly income

Status Main centres: No frills Main centres: Choices Regions: No frills Regions: Choices
Individual $726 $1029 $604 $1116
Couple $865 $1470 $747 $1176

Annual income

Status Main centres: No frills Main centres: Choices Regions: No frills Regions: Choices
Individual $37,752 $53,508 $31,408 $58,032
Couple $44,980 $76,440 $38,844 $61,152

What about government super?

Fortunately, you won’t have to cover all those costs yourself. In New Zealand, most people are entitled to superannuation once they hit 65. It’s an allowance that helps take off some of the financial pressure in your later years. The current superannuation rates are:

  • Individual: $437 per week or $22,721 per annum
  • Couple (assuming both qualify for super): $672 per week or $34,995 per annum

As you can see, based on the above estimations, your superannuation alone won’t be enough to cover your retirement costs, no matter where you are living or how frugal you are. So, you are going to have to cough up some of your own money. The gaps between expected costs and superannuation can be seen below:

Annual shortfall

Status Main centres: No frills Main centres: Choices Regions: No frills Regions: Choices
Individual $15,031 $30,787 $8687 $35,311
Couple $9,985 $41,445 $3,849 $26,157

How much KiwiSaver do I need for retirement?

Below are estimations of how much KiwiSaver you’ll need to live, in addition to your government super.  The results are based on the assumptions:

  • You have no other source of income besides superannuation
  • You have no other form of savings besides your KiwiSaver balance
  • Your KiwiSaver balance, once you retire, continues to grow at the same rate as inflation


Retirement length Main centres: No frills Main centres: Choices Regions: No frills Regions: Choices
10 years $150,310 $307,870 $86,870 $353,110
20 years $300,620 $615,740 $173,740 $706,220
30 years $450,930 $923,610 $260,610 $1,059,330
Male to 80* $225,465 $461,805 $130,305 $529,665
Female to 83.5* $278,074 $569,560 $160,710 $653,254

*Life expectancy based on 2017-2019 data. Life expectancy figures calculated accounting for retirement at 65. All figures are an estimation and should be used as a guide only.


Retirement length Main centres: No frills Main centres: Choices Regions: No frills Regions: Choices
10 years $99,850 $414,450 $38,490 $261,570
20 years $199,700 $828,900 $76,980 $523,140
30 years $299,550 $1,243,350 $115,470 $784,710

It’s important to note that these figures estimate how much you would need to retire today. Accounting for inflation, the actual figures at time of retirement will differ, but should be equivalent to the current value of the above figures.

Compare KiwiSaver funds

How much KiwiSaver should I have at my age?

Calculating how much KiwiSaver you should have, by age, is tricky. There’s no one definitive answer. According to the latest KiwiSaver report, the average balance is $26,410 – a figure far removed from some of the retirement savings goals listed above.

However, if you’re a 30-year-old with that balance, you’re obviously in a far better position to save for a comfortable retirement than somebody who is 50 years old with the same sum.

The key is to start saving early, to save as much as possible and to be proactive about checking your KiwiSaver fund’s progress.

→Related article: Is Putting Extra Money Into KiwiSaver Worth It?

We crunched the numbers on a 35-year-old on an average income of $68,000, with a typical $20,000 in a balanced KiwiSaver fund, and making contributions of 3%. On these numbers they could expect to retire with about $201,000 saved.

However, saving an extra $100 per month could boost their KiwiSaver to $255,000 by age 65. Or, if they really hit the accelerator, and instead of saving the extra $100 each month doubled their salary contribution to 6%, they could pocket over $92,000 more by the time they hit 65: $293,000.

And these are just the results from a balanced fund, choosing a riskier growth or aggressive fund could supersize your retirement savings.

→Related article: How to Pick Your KiwiSaver Fund

Ultimately, if you’re concerned about having enough money for your retirement, you should start doing something about it now. And one of the easiest and quickest things you can do is to compare your current KiwiSaver provider against others in the market.

Do you know what returns you’ve earned over the past year, and the fees you’ve paid? If you are in the wrong fund, you could be missing out on better returns on your investments.

Here at Canstar, we can help you find the right KiwiSaver fund for your needs. While it can be hard to predict the future, looking to the past can help you make informed choices. With our helpful comparison tool, you can see the past one-year, three-year, five-year, and even seven-year returns of all the available funds, alongside other information such as annual fees, termination fees, added features, and the Canstar star rating. To learn more or to start comparing click the button below:

Compare KiwiSaver funds

author andrew broadley

About the author of this page

This report was written by Canstar Content Producer, Andrew Broadley. Andrew is an experienced writer with a wide range of industry experience. Starting out, he cut his teeth working as a writer for print and online magazines, and he has worked in both journalism and editorial roles. His content has covered lifestyle and culture, marketing and, more recently, finance for Canstar.

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