O'Donnell Kerr Financial Planners
  • 27 November, 2019

How much money do I waste? The amount is frightening.

Peter and I have often written about how much you need in retirement to live a comfortable life.

There are numerous reports which outline in quite specific detail how much you need, a regular reference source for PK and I is the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) Retirement Standard report.

This report is very detailed and provides a budget breakdown of the basis for its recommendation.

In my circumstances, I know that I want to be able to lead a comfortable retirement, which according to the ASFA report equates to an annual income for a couple of $61,786 per annum or, $1,183.65 week.

Using this figure as a basis for my new lifestyle in retirement I decided I needed to investigate my current spending habits and compare them to the budget outlined in the ASFA report.

This investigation showed me how much money I waste without giving a second thought.

The most frightening figure was how much I spend on my flat white coffees and what I thought was an occasional breakfast at a café. Over the last 4 weeks I have spent in excess of $500, bringing my yearly spend on coffees and breakfast to $6,500 – I had no idea that I was spending this much money!

I then took the next step and had a look at the rest of my lifestyle expenses.

The next out of control issue for me are my running shoes. I do like to run, and I do so on a regular basis, currently at least 4 times a week. Between my partner and I we would have in excess of 12 pair of runners. Each pair of these shoes cost in excess of $200. I should mention that they do come in an array of nice colours which is always a good reason to buy a new pair.

I then looked at my t-shirts and board shirts. I have no idea how many of each I have but at least two shelves in my wardrobe are jam packed; yet last weekend for some unknown, I decided I needed at least one more. The depressing part of this waste is that I would not wear half of the shirts that I have.

The more expensive item on my list – my bicycles. I have three and my lovely partner has two. Five in total and I am not going to tell you how much they cost - that would be embarrassing. The ironic thing is that since buying my latest bicycle (about 12 months ago), I have only ridden it once. And my partner has not ridden any. That’s 5 expensive bicycles gathering dust.

I could continue but I won’t. The examination of my expenses was an eye opener and it has highlighted that my current spending habits will not be sustainable in retirement.

PK often talks about practicing living on your retirement budget before actually retiring. That way you will know if you can actually afford to retire.

However, before you do this, take a good look at your bank statements and understand exactly what you are spending on a weekly basis. Where are you wasting your money, purchasing “things” you don’t need?

Now I am not saying you need to become a scrooge or a hermit, but do you really need to buy two coffees a day? Do you need another t-shirt? Do you need another bicycle when you already have three?

The good news for me is that the money that I spend on a weekly basis for groceries and other fresh food is comparable to the budget outlined in the ASFA report. So, there is hope for me yet.

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