Is your partner starting to talk about retirement, or are you beginning to feel it is time to step back from work?

Whatever the reason, you may be asking: can I afford to retire? It is a personal decision that requires a lot of thought and the need to understand the realities of retirement.

The issue, of course, is how much money do you need so that you can sustain yourself into later life.

A good starting point is being aware of the balance of their superannuation and looking at the option to salary sacrifice. A financial adviser can help you project how much superannuation you will have at your planned age of retirement and advise on whether you will be able to access a part or full Age Pension.

The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia’s Retirement Standard states an average single person needs approximately $595,000 in superannuation before retiring, whereas a couple should have around $690,000. But this will vary based on your personal cirscuumstances.

The other issue to consider is your housing. You may own a family home, which holds great memories, but may require more maintenance and upkeep than you are willing to manage in retirement.

The median house price (the sale price of the middle home in a list of properties ranked from highest sale price to lowest over a set period of time) in Australia’s capital cities is currently, $787,815 and in regional areas, $587,851.

Today, the family home is a key financial asset, and there are a number of ways the proceeds can fund your retirement.

You could look at downsizing to a retirement village – where the average two-bedroom unit sells for 55% of the median house price – and free up some capital.

After the age of 55, there are also a range of incentives to downsize including the tax-free downsizer concession and the Commonwealth Home Equity Access Scheme (HEAS).

When people put together their retirement budget, it is advisable to think about having sufficient money for one-off expenses – a new car, a boat and trailer, or holidays.

Remember: more money is always needed in the first 10 or 15 years of retirement than later on.

In short, try and calculate how much money you will need per year in retirement and assess it over a realistic lifetime. Then, compare against this amount against your income-generating assets.

Money is not the be all and end all of retirement – but it helps.