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Retirement income

Going into retirement doesn’t mean your income stops. From the age of 65 most New Zealand residents receive NZ Super every fortnight. Income can also come from savings, paid work or business activity, or even your home.

NZ Super

New Zealand Superannuation (NZ Super) is a pension paid by the government to most New Zealand residents from age 65.

Any eligible New Zealander receives NZ Super regardless of how much they earn through paid work, savings and investments, what other assets they own, or how much taxes they have paid.

Find out more about NZ Super and what the NZ Super current rates are.

Other government help

Depending on your personal situation, you might qualify for extra help from the government. This could include help with ongoing health and medical costs (Disability Allowance) and housing costs (Accommodation Supplement).

You may also qualify for other assistance – for example, if you face an emergency situation, or if you need help with essential costs.

For more information, call Senior Services on 0800 552 002, contact your local Senior Services centre (usually located within Work and Income) or visit www.seniors.msd.govt.nz.

Living off your savings

Many retired New Zealanders rely on income from savings in addition to their NZ Super. This means investing money you have saved so that it generates income through interest or dividend payments.

You may also plan to spend some or all of the money you have saved to help fund your retirement years.

Investing your money

Tip: The more dependent you are on your savings, the more careful your investment approach should be.

Generally speaking, the higher the return expected from an investment, the higher the risk. This is not just the risk that you may lose some or all of your money, but also the risk that the return you actually receive  can vary from year to year.

The amount of risk you can afford depends on how much you rely on the income from your savings to pay for your basic living expenses and what you’re comfortable with.

If you’re using the income from your savings for food, rates or insurance or to replace your washing machine, you’re probably highly dependent on it. So you can’t afford to face ups and downs (‘volatility’) with this money.  You need to be more certain that you will get the annual income you need.

On the other hand, you may be retired for 20 years or more, so you may want to protect part of your money against inflation by investing in things like shares and property. Provided the extra risk won’t stop you sleeping at night!

Liquidity – how easily you can withdraw or ‘cash up’ your investments – is also important to consider.

Find out more about investing.

Not retired yet and thinking of KiwiSaver?

KiwiSaver is a voluntary savings scheme designed to help New Zealanders save for their retirement.

You must be aged under 65 to join KiwiSaver. If you’re under 60 when you join, you can get your funds when you turn 65. If you’re over 60 when you join, you can’t touch your funds for five years.

The extra contributions the government and your employer make to your savings mean that if you’re eligible, you should seriously consider joining KiwiSaver.

Find out more about KiwiSaver.

Working in retirement

No-one is required to stop working when they turn 65. You may want to continue working or to do so in a different way – such as with flexible hours, part-time or casual work, consultancy or mentoring.

Income from paid work will not affect your entitlement to NZ Super. However, it may affect your eligibility for income-tested benefits such as the Accommodation Supplement or the Disability Allowance.

For more information talk to Senior Services on 0800 552 002.

Equity release

If you own a house or other property, and need to free up some money to pay for emergencies or a major expense, you might consider ‘equity release’.

The most common type of equity release is a ‘reverse mortgage’ where you borrow an amount against your property either in a lump sum or by drawing down on the loan as and when you need the money. In the meantime, the interest payments accumulate.

When you die or the property is sold, the full loan plus interest has to be repaid – so you will leave behind a smaller legacy.

If you are considering a reverse mortgage, talk about it with your family and get independent financial and legal advice.

Make sure you understand how the product works and what it might cost (including fees and interest charges). Take a ‘worst-case scenario’ view when working out the cost projections – don’t assume your property will increase in value.

Other ways to generate income from your home

There are other ways to release value from your home. You might choose to:

  • Rent out part of your home
  • Take in a boarder
  • Subdivide your property
  • Move to a cheaper house
  • Sell your home to family or whānau (while retaining the right to live in it)
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