Revealed: How Much Kiwi’s Spend In Retirement Ft. Ben Brinkerhoff

By Lighthouse | October 30, 2023 | 10 Min read

Were joined by Ben Brinkerhoff to delve into the critical topic of retirement savings. Consilium recently published the newly released Retirement Expenditure Guidelines, shedding light on the increasing disparity between New Zealand Superannuation (NZ Super) and the actual cost of living in retirement.

Retirement Expenditure Guidelines

The recently unveiled Retirement Expenditure Guidelines, co-sponsored by Consilium and Financial Advice New Zealand and produced by Massey’s NZ Fin-Ed Centre, unveiled a stark reality that you should be aware of. These guidelines emphasise the imperative need for saving and investing in your retirement.

NZ Super Falls Short

One of the most crucial findings of these guidelines is that NZ Super alone is insufficient to meet the financial needs of retirees, regardless of whether they aspire to a modest “no-frills” lifestyle or one that allows for more choices. This revelation serves as a wake-up call for everyone to take control of their retirement planning.

The Impact of Inflation

Recent spikes in inflation have highlighted the dynamic nature of retirement planning. It’s crucial to realise that your financial plan should not be static; periodic reviews are essential to ensure your retirement expectations are met.

Two Levels of Expenditure

The Retirement Expenditure Guidelines categorise retirement expenditures into two levels: “No Frills” and “Choices.” The former represents a basic standard of living with minimal luxuries, while the latter embodies a more comfortable lifestyle, including occasional indulgences.

The Savings You Need

For a two-person household living in a major city in 2023, achieving a “Choices” lifestyle would require savings of $831,000 ($755,000 in 2022), whereas a provincial couple would need $539,000 ($480,000). For a one-person household aiming for a “Choices” lifestyle, the required savings are $610,000 ($561,000) and $697,000 ($658,000) for metropolitan and provincial areas, respectively.

Bridging the Gap

Interestingly, only two-person provincial households pursuing a “No Frills” lifestyle come close to being financially supported by NZ Super. Even so, they would still need savings of $120,000 ($77,000 in 2022). In contrast, a metropolitan two-person household with a “No Frills” lifestyle would require an additional $235,000 ($191,000 in 2022) in retirement savings on top of NZ Super.

Rising Costs of Food and Housing

The guidelines highlight the significant impact of food and housing costs on retirees. As retirees allocate a substantial portion of their income—between 12% and 22%—toward food, the recent 12.3% increase in food costs, more than double the Consumer Price Index (CPI), has amplified their financial challenges. Additionally, housing and household utilities represent the most significant expenditure category for retirees, accounting for 17% to 31% of total expenditure.

The Importance of Financial Advisors

Ben emphasised the importance of having a well-defined plan, discipline, and adherence to your financial goals. Knowing where you want to be and how you intend to spend your money is the first step. Ben underlines the significance of investing rather than simply saving, highlighting the distinction as crucial in growing your wealth.

Consider Seeking Professional Advice

As you contemplate your retirement planning, consider seeking professional financial advice. Financial advisors can personalise the insights provided in the Retirement Expenditure Guidelines and help you translate them into actionable plans. They also play a pivotal role in keeping your financial strategy on track amid market fluctuations and life’s uncertainties.


The Retirement Expenditure Guidelines have unveiled the growing disparity between NZ Super and the actual costs of living in retirement. This realization underscores the importance of active participation in your retirement planning. Your financial strategy should align with your retirement lifestyle goals, and periodic reviews are essential to adapt to changing circumstances. By considering these guidelines and seeking professional advice, you can take charge of your retirement journey and work towards accumulating the assets you need to enjoy your well-deserved retirement.

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