Ask Paul: I'm 48 and don't own a house, is it too late to retire comfortably?


Published on

Q. Hi Paul, I'm 48 and I have $100,000 in superannuation.

I don't own a house; I have no assets and am wondering if it is too late to have a comfortable retirement?

I work full time, and other than adding to my super what else can I do? - Bernie

ask paul clitheroe beach house stress

A. Bernie, the good news is you do have assets - $100,000 in super is a nice start.

Then you have two other advantages. You are 48 and have plenty of time in front of you.

Also, you have a full-time job. This means your super is growing through employer contributions and also investment returns.

Yes, you could just concentrate on building super and as you got into your mid-60s I am sure you would have a very nice balance.

Add a bit of aged pension to this and I do see you with a comfortable retirement.

But I am interested in what else you can do. I am sure you have done this, but controlling your cash flow is the key.

It may well be the case that you can top up super while building savings outside super. I would like to see you do this because, in a perfect world, building a deposit and buying an apartment or home to live in would be great.

But just getting to retirement with a healthy super balance is a powerful plan. A bit outside super and a potential option to buy pre-retirement would be cream on the cake.

Get stories like this in our newsletters.

Related Stories


Paul Clitheroe AM is founder and editorial adviser of Money magazine. He is one of Australia's leading financial voices, responsible for bringing financial insight to Australians through personal finance books, the Money TV show, and this publication, which he established in 1999. Paul is the chair of the Australian Government Financial Literacy Board and is chairman of InvestSMART Financial Services. He is the chair of Financial Literacy at Macquarie University where he is also a Professor with the School of Business and Economics. Click here to ask Paul your money question. Unfortunately Paul cannot respond to questions posted in the comments section. Please view our disclaimer here.
Sue Mclntosh
October 17, 2019 3.49pm

Hi Paul, l am a single parent to a 16 year old who wishes to attend University in a few years. I am 59 and own our home, work 3 days per week with $90,000 in super. I salary sacrifice $100 per fortnight and contribute $1000 each financial year. I would like to put some money into shares that will grow steadily but not high risk. Planning on a long term investment for my retirement. Any suggestions you have would be appreciated. Regards Sue.

Money team
October 18, 2019 9.19am

Hi Sue,

Thank you for your comment. Unfortunately Paul cannot reply to comments. We will pass your question on to him for consideration in the Ask Paul section of Money magazine.

- Money team

Robyn Rae
October 17, 2019 5.27pm

Hello Paul

I am 65 in November. Recently lost my job of 20 yrs after a workplace fall 4 yrs ago. Have $225,000 in Super & on Workcover until Nov 2020. Savings $60,000. Would like to know where I can deposit my compensation claim of $400,000. Renting with husband,

Money team
October 18, 2019 9.19am

Hi Robyn,

Thank you for your comment. Unfortunately Paul cannot reply to comments. We will pass your question on to him for consideration in the Ask Paul section of Money magazine.

- Money team

Susan Livsey
October 18, 2019 10.58am

So great to read something that's not all doom and gloom about not having a million dollars in super. I own my own apartment and I have less than 100000 in my super I still work part-time and I am able to travel and live in my opinion quite comfortably. I don't eat out three times a week in expensive restaurants I don't smoke I don't drink but I do the things that I love to do many of them cost little or no money full stop singing the church choir attend community choir play tennis watch Netflix full stop thanks Paul for very down to earth and accurate advice.

Effie R
October 20, 2019 6.52pm

Hi Paul,

Am in the same boat as Bernie, and reading your reply to him has eased my worries about retirement. Thank you.

Have taught my kids to be savers, I have sacrificed quite a bit so they can save to purchase an investment property in the near future for their own future.