Retirement is a huge milestone that affects everything from your family and social life to your finances. Plus, with the average Australian living to the age of 82.8 (that’s 80.7 for men and 84.9 for women1), it’s a life stage that can continue for two decades or longer. So it makes sense to spend a bit of time planning and investing in the kind of future you’d like to enjoy.

Key points:

  • You’re never too young to start planning for your retirement. Set-up healthy savings habits in your 20s to help make sure you retire comfortably.
  • A lot of major life changes can happen in your 30s. This is the decade to set serious financial goals and get good financial advice.
  • Maximise your earnings in your 40s – this is when you’re probably at the top of your financial game.
  • Stay fit and healthy in your 50s and keep your eye on the retirement prize – it could be just around the corner.
  • Once you say goodbye to the workforce doesn’t mean you should stop budgeting, planning or investing.

No matter how old you are now, or where you’re at with your financial goals, it’s possible to put plans in place to optimise your retirement years. We’ve compiled a decade-by-decade guide on how to get started, and the steps to take for peace of mind now and financial wellbeing in the future.

The beginning of your working life: your 20s


It’s likely you’ve finished your studies, you’re entering the workforce and your newfound income is being pulled in every direction. There are student loans to pay off, rent and utility bills to budget for, and parties to attend.

Retirement seems a lifetime away, and that’s exactly why it’s a good idea to start planning for it now – time and compound earnings are on your side. Start early, adopt good budgeting and mindful spending habits, get savvy with your super and make plans to ditch your debts.

Read more on planning for your retirement in your 20s

Major life changes: your 30s

This could be your biggest decade, as far as life changes go. Statistics show many of you will get married1 , have kids2 and buy a house in your 30s3 . You’ll also likely move up in your career and, with a potentially higher salary, you can set serious financial goals.

If you have extra cash, you could consider getting a bit more aggressive with how much you invest, including the amount you channel into your super. And remember getting good financial advice now can help set you up for the future.

TIP: Are you conservative or a risk taker when it comes to investing? Find out what style of investor you are.

Read more on planning for your retirement in your 30s

At the top of your game: your 40s

In this decade, you’ll likely be at your peak earning years4  with a salary that’s potentially higher than ever before. But that doesn’t mean you should splurge too much or enjoy living expenses beyond your means – you probably still have debts to repay before you retire, like your home loan. And there’s a chance you may be doing these things on your own; divorce is common among Aussies at this stage of life5 .

Statistically speaking, you’re at the top of your financial game, so look for ways to maximise your earnings while setting realistic long-term financial goals for your retirement.

Read more on planning for your retirement in your 40s

The golden years: your 50s

Your golden years are a time when you can focus on, well, you. But it shouldn’t be to the detriment of your future you. Retirement may not be far away and saving for financial goals is now a priority.

If your super and investments were impacted by economic events like COVID-19, you may need to adjust your retirement plans, but now isn’t necessarily the time to try to outplay the market.

The good news is there are many strategies to help like personal super contributions - particularly if you made use of the Federal Government’s early release scheme. Trying to stay fit and healthy will also help you enter this phase with enough energy to carry out your retirement plans, while considering putting money away in an emergency fund in case unexpected medical expenses arise.

Read more on planning for your retirement in your 50s

Nearing retirement: your 60s

Statistics show that this is the decade you’ll finally say goodbye to the workforce. With your last days at work just around the corner, this is the time for retirement lifestyle planning. Picture what you want to be doing in the next stage of your life once you stop work.

But it’s not the time to get complacent – budgeting for both day-to-day and emergencies continues well into your retirement, along with the need for insurance. Think about how you can earn extra money through hobbies and passions when you have more free time at your disposal.

Read more on planning for your retirement in your 60s


Australian Bureau of Statistics (2020): Marriages and Divorces, Australia
2 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2021): Mothers are older, smoking less and having healthy babies
3 (2020): Average age of Aussie first-home buyers closer to 40 than 20, research reveals
4 Australian Bureau of Statistics (2019): Employee Earnings and Hours, Australia
5 Australian Bureau of Statistics (2020): Marriages and Divorces, Australia
6 Australian Bureau of Statistics (2020): Retirement and Retirement Intentions, Australia


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