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Simple retirement calculator

Oct 25, 2013

retired couple on benchSanlam Employee Benefits (SEB) has developed a very simple calculation that you can use to work out whether you are on track with your retirement savings.

Dawie de Villiers, CEO of SEB says the beauty of the calculation is that it can be applied with very little sophisticated maths or financial knowledge. “All you need is an updated retirement savings lump sum and your annual salary figure. The calculation couldn’t be simpler.”


• After working for 5 years, you need to have saved 1 x your annual salary
• After 10 years, 2 x annual salary
• After 15 years, 3 x annual salary
• After 20 years, 4 x annual salary
• After 25 years, 6 x annual salary
• After 30 years, 7 x annual salary
• After 35 years, 10 x annual salary
• After 40 years, 12 x annual salary

“Ideally individuals will use the calculation throughout their working lives, starting from their very first year of employment. But for those who have started saving later, it is still  a useful tool and will give a clear indication if they are falling short  – they can then try to make a plan to increase the savings urgently,” says de Villiers who adds that the calculation is based on what is saved through traditional retirement vehicles (RAs and work pension funds) and does not include other investments such as homes.

Tips on how to build up your retirement savings

Working for 0 to 5 years:
How you start is a good indicator of how you’ll end up. So start saving for retirement from your very first salary. Saving easily becomes a habit and as we all know, it is harder to replace bad habits than good ones. If you are wondering where to start, it is always good to consult a trusted financial advisor. And be sure to take your work pension fund very seriously.

At 5 years:
After five years of retirement saving, your interest starts compounding, defined by Investopedia as ‘the ability of an asset to generate earnings, which are then reinvested in order to generate their own earnings. In other words, compounding refers to generating earnings from previous earnings’. Albert Einstein called compounding the eighth wonder of the world – it really is that exciting to watch your money grow exponentially! Importantly, always remember to preserve your retirement savings in a preservation fund when changing jobs to ensure that your savings keep on compounding – this is the single biggest mistake members make when saving for retirement.

At 20 years:
You have reached the halfway mark of your formal working years and it is well worth taking a very deep look at both your retirement savings and your full financial picture to ensure you are on track for a prosperous, happy retirement.

At 30 to 35 years:
Now is the time to review how your retirement savings are invested and to start thinking about what type of annuity you would like to purchase at retirement. Aligning your pre-retirement savings with your intended annuity choice will reduce the impact of market movements or changes in long-term interest rates on the retirement income that you are aiming for.

At 40 years:
Most of us will be thinking of retirement around about now. Your next very important financial decision is how and where to reinvest your retirement savings so that you are able to maintain your lifestyle. Many funds offer members a default annuity option; that is a trustee approved and institutionally priced solution that is appropriate for the average fund member. Alternatively, you may bring in your personal financial advisor to consider the wide range of annuity options in the retail market. If you choose to go this route, engage your advisor early and don’t be afraid to challenge them and ensure they have really shopped around for the product which suits you best. After all, your days exploring the Kruger National Park or lunching in the clubhouse depend on it!


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Maya Fisher-French author of Money Questions Answered

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