How to Calculate Your Lifetime Income

How to Calculate Your Lifetime Income


The total income that you will earn in your life is determined by: 1) how long you work, and 2) your income generating capacity.

1. How long you work

This is determined by when you start working and when you stop working. The longer you study the later you start working. CA’s, for example, start articles at around age 23 and are fully qualified around age 26. Medical specialists are fully qualified at around 32. People in the business and professionals sector retire at age 62,8 years on average (Benefits Barometer 2012).


A professional such as a CA has approximately 37 years (444 months) of income after qualifying. Working beyond your official retirement age adds income. How many months have you got left until retirement?

2. Your income generating capacity

There is a direct correlation between higher education and higher income. Professionally qualified people are part of an elite group with high potential income.


Your lifetime income potential may be tens of millions (as illustrated in the table below)


To put it differently: a qualified person’s brain is an asset with income generating potential of R30 to R40 million or more (PV). Note, however, that this is only potential income. What you actually earn is determined by what you do with that potential. You must manage your own career.

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Paul Leonard
Paul Leonard CFP® is an executive director of Consolidated Financial Planning. He runs the Eastern Cape region and is intimately involved in the Corporate Solutions division of the company. He has become well known throughout the Eastern Cape for his daily personal finance insert called MONEY TALK on Algoa FM, and was the national runner up of the Financial Planner of the Year awards in 2006. Visit for more information.