Important Information - please keep in mind that the value of investments can go down as well as up, so you may get back less than you invest.

HOW much money will you need in retirement? Working out an answer to that seemingly simple question is an important part of anybody’s retirement planning - but the answer isn’t always easy to come by.

Several attempts have been made to provide one, the latest of which comes from the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) which has produced Retirement Living Standards to put cash figures on the amounts you need to enjoy a minimum, a moderate and a comfortable standard of living in retirement.

The results are built using assumed costs for everyday items. The minimum standard of living includes enough to spend £41 a week on food, one week’s holiday plus another weekend away in the UK, £410 a year for new clothes and footwear and the cost of decorating of one room each year.

Overall, this minimum standard of living amounts to expenditure of £10,900 a year. Because income at that level would attract no Income Tax (or National Insurance which stops for most people once they reach state pension age), £10,900 is also the level of pre-tax income you would need for this minimum standard of living.

For a moderate retirement, the PLSA numbers allow £47 a week for food, two weeks’ holiday in Europe plus a weekend away in the UK, £730 a year for clothes and footwear and the cost of running a car, which is three years’ old when bought and replaced every ten years. It also allows payment of a professional to help decorate and maintain the home.  It puts a figure on that expenditure of £20,800, but because some of this would be subject to tax the pre-tax income for a moderate standard of living would be £22,860.

For a comfortable standard of living that many aspire to, the PLSA said expenditure would include £59 a week for food, three weeks of holiday in Europe each year, £1,200 for clothing and footwear, a two-year old car replaced every five years and a new kitchen and bathroom every 10 to 15 years. To get all that, the PLSA said, would require expenditure of £33,600 a year - which works out at a pre-tax income of £38,860.

These numbers come with plenty of caveats. They are for single people - a couple can achieve the same standard of living by spending relatively less - and apply to those living outside London. They also assume individuals receive their maximum State Pension of £9,339, and that they receive an income from their other retirement savings equivalent to 5% return from an annuity.

How do the numbers stack up against your own expectations of retirement costs and income? It’s unlikely your retirement will look exactly like any of the PLSA scenarios - but they offer a helpful framework if you’re beginning to plan your life after work.

Fidelity has developed its own tool to help in that task. Check out our retirement planning calculators to work out your own target income levels.