Understanding your retirement income options

How you organise your retirement income streams can make a huge difference to your quality of life. Here are some options you might want to consider.

What will you do with your super when you retire?

You have plenty of flexibility as there’s a wide range of options inside and outside superannuation. But this is a complex area, with tax and government entitlement implications, opens in new window, and your needs may change over time. It is always a good idea to talk to a professional financial adviser about things like tax on superannuation withdrawals before making any significant decisions.

Accessing your superannuation

When you reach your superannuation access age (or ‘preservation age’) and you’re eligible to withdraw your super, you have the option to leave it where it is and continue adding to it. If there’s been a downturn in the market, you might want to wait for it to improve. If you do, you could pay more tax on your earnings than if you invested the money in an income stream.

Retirement pension fund

Most people transfer their super balance into a pension account, as your pension and any earnings from it are usually tax-free after you turn 60.

Pension accounts pay a regular income to you on a monthly, quarterly, half-yearly or yearly basis. You can nominate the pension payment amount and vary it at any time. The only stipulation is that you withdraw at least the minimum amount specified by the government, opens in new window.

It’s important to understand that unless you have a guaranteed product, you may outlive your pension account. The balance can increase or decrease in response to market performance and other variables.

Investing in an annuity

Another option is an annuity, opens in new window, which gives you the peace of mind of knowing exactly how much your retirement income will be and how long the payments will continue. An annuity is paid by a life insurer in return for a lump sum, from a super fund or other savings. Again, payments can usually be paid monthly, quarterly, half-yearly or yearly and you can receive them for a certain period or for the rest of your life.

The main disadvantage is that your money is locked away, although there are now some products that allow you to make extra withdrawals.

Accessing superannuation

You can withdraw some or all of your super in one go – perhaps to pay off debts or invest elsewhere. It’s important to do your homework before investing outside your super as your earnings might be taxed.

Investments outside superannuation

There are many investment options for retirees outside super but many prefer to prioritise security. Diversification is very important as it can help to minimise your risk.

Capital growth investments

Capital growth investments, such as property and shares, can rise and fall in value but over the long term they usually outperform other types of investment. This makes them important for increasing the time your savings will last. They can also provide retirement income streams. Your time frame is key with growth investments and you should be prepared to invest them for a number of years.

  • Shares are more flexible than property as you can sell them off in small numbers if you need emergency cash. However, they are more volatile – their value can drop fast and hard.
  • Managed funds provide a diversified mix of investments that are managed by qualified investment professionals – though it’s still important to research which will be best for you.

If you invest most or all of your money in property, you lose the benefits of diversification. And, while property may be less volatile than shares, prices can fall. If you rely on rent for your income, there could also be a problem if you’re without a tenant for any length of time. Unlike shares, you can’t sell a portion of a property to free up your cash. The sale time is also much longer.

Interest-bearing investments

Savings accounts and term deposits are easy to open and there’s no risk of losing your initial investment. The trade-off is they usually pay a lower interest rate and there are no capital gains or tax benefits.

Everyday banking

An everyday account designed specifically for retirees could help keep your costs down. NAB’s Retirement Account, for example, has no minimum balance requirement, no monthly fees and is available to anyone receiving a government pension.

Have confidence in your future with help from a financial adviser.

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Important information

This information is provided by National Australia Bank Limited ABN 12 004 044 937 AFSL No. 230686 (NAB), a member of the National Australia Bank Group of companies. Any advice is general in nature and has been prepared without taking into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs and because of that you should, before acting on the advice, consider the appropriateness of the advice having regard to those matters. See the NAB Financial Services Guide for details about relationships between NAB and product issuers, and remuneration or benefits that may be received in relation to NAB’s authorised services.

Target Market Determinations for these products are available at nab.com.au/TMD.