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How much income do you need in retirement?

How much income do you need in retirement

Written by Retirement Line Updated: 23rd January 2024

As we approach retirement, lots of people wonder: "How much money do I need to live comfortably?" The answer is different for everyone, as all have our own circumstances and lifestyle choices. But research from pensions specialists suggests target income levels for different retirement lifestyles.

Research by the Pension Lifetime and Savings Association (PLSA) reveals the income required to maintain a minimum living standard in retirement is £12,800 for a single person. According to the PLSA’s Retirement Living Standards, this is enough to afford all the basics, eat out once a month and enjoy one week’s holiday in the UK. 

The minimum living standard doesn’t include the cost of running a car - although that doesn’t mean car ownership is impossible in that income. 

But what if you want more than the basics for your golden years? For more financial security and flexibility, the Retirement Living Standards suggest a single person’s income of around £23,300 would be ideal for a moderate living standard in retirement. This is enough to afford £74 a week on food, a fortnight away abroad each year and eating out a few times a month.

To enjoy a few more luxuries, the same research recommends an income of £37,300 for a comfortable living standard in retirement. This would allow a single person to take three weeks of foreign holidays a year, regular beauty treatments and £144 per week on food.

These living standard amounts from the PLSA don’t factor in housing costs. So in effect, they assume that you would be a mortgage-free homeowner by the time you retire, or have your housing costs met in other ways.

What type of retirement could you achieve?

The table below summarises how much income a person or couple supposedly needs in order to achieve a minimum, moderate or comfortable retirement lifestyle. 

Retirement Living Standards

Type of retirement

Amount needed

What might you expect in retirement?

Minimum

£12,800 single / £19,900 couple

£54 a week on food, DIY home maintenance, one room decorated a year, one UK holiday each year, £580 a year on clothes, £20 budget for each birthday present, no car.

Moderate

£23,300 single / £34,000 couple

£74 a week on food, some help with home maintenance and decorating each year, car replaced every 10 years, 2 weeks abroad each year, up to £791 on clothing, £34 budget per birthday present.

Comfortable

£37,300 single / £54,500 couple

£144 per week on food, new kitchen/bathroom every 10-15 years, car replaced every 5 years, three weeks holiday a year, up to £1,500 per year on clothes, £56 budget per birthday present.

Source: Retirement Living Standards from The Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association

Calculate how much you’ll need each year

Of course, how much you will need for your own retirement depends on your unique wants and needs for the future. So the first step in determining how much you’ll need to put away is to calculate your projected expenses. 

Start by reviewing your current budget and consider how it might change in retirement. For instance, your mortgage might eat up a decent chunk of your income now, but this might not be an issue for you when you reach retirement (and remember that mortgage/rent is not included in the Retirement Living Standard figures). 

Here are some of the common expenses to plan ahead for in retirement:

Housing

Despite many retirees clearing their mortgage before retirement, housing-related costs can still add up. You’ll need to consider your council tax, fuel bills, insurance and the costs of essential repairs and maintenance. If your home is expensive to maintain, you might consider moving to one that’s cheaper to maintain. This may also free up equity, which can be used to support your retirement lifestyle. 

Transport

You might not need the daily commute in retirement, but you might find that you spend more time travelling. After all, you will have more time to spend on leisure activities and visiting friends and family. Consider the cost of maintaining and running your car, including fuel, or using public transportation.

Groceries and other day-to-day expenses

Your daily expenses include groceries, pet care, clothing and footwear. Try to work out how much your shopping bills come to each month at the moment to work out your annual costs.

Gifting

If you love gifting presents then make sure you plan your spending for Christmas and birthdays into your retirement budget. But remember, gifting should never put you in a position of financial difficulty, so work out what you can afford and stick to it.

Leisure activities

Retirement is a time to enjoy life to the fullest. Plan for expenses related to hobbies, holidays and social activities. Don't forget to consider future goals, such as a new hobby or extra time with the grandchildren.

Healthcare costs

Consider if you want to budget for private healthcare and dentistry to get quicker access to specialist care and elective procedures in retirement. You may also want to budget for social care costs, as you may have to contribute to the cost of homecare for you or your partner in the future. 

How long do your retirement savings have to stretch?

Nobody has a crystal ball to answer this question, but having an idea of when you intend to start your retirement will help you to plan ahead financially. 

In terms of how long you should plan for, the good news is that life expectancy has been increasing. According to the Office for National Statistics, a typical 65-year-old today can expect to live another 18.5 years if they’re a man and 21 years if they’re a woman. 

However, the State Pension age is rising steadily to 67 between 2026-28 and you should consider if the State Pension and any other retirement savings will enable you to maintain the lifestyle you want in retirement. 

If it looks like your retirement income will fall short of where you want it to be, you may have time to put away more money each month. Another option is to consider delaying your retirement by a year or two. 

Talk to Retirement Line about your annuity options 

If you are 55+ and thinking about using all or some of your pension savings to provide an additional income in your retirement, make sure you speak to our friendly Annuity Specialists. Annuities can be used to top up your State Pension with regular, guaranteed income. Taking a lifetime annuity will mean you’ll know exactly how much you’ll get each month for the rest of your retirement. 

In addition to answering all your questions about your annuity options, they can also check the latest annuity rates and how much income you can achieve based on your individual circumstances.

Get peace of mind today by speaking to our friendly team. Call us on  01733 973038 or request a free call back here.

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