Australia’s simple, generous superannuation system encourages us to take retirement savings for granted. But being passive about super during your working years could lead to disappointment if your final nest egg falls short of expectations. Taking a proactive approach during every decade of your working life can maximise the financial outcome while providing you with additional benefits, such as insurance, along the way.
Most young Australians have worked more than one job by the time they are 30, which could mean their superannuation is spread across multiple funds. Consider consolidating your super into one account to bring down the total fees you pay and to simplify your paperwork.
By this stage, you may have begun a family. If so, you may want to increase the scope or level of insurance cover that you currently hold. You may be able to boost your insurance or insure another aspect of your life through your super fund, which could be cheaper than using a regular insurer.
As you pass the halfway point in your working life, it’s time to think more closely about additional contributions to your superannuation. One option is to speak to your employer or accountant about a salary sacrifice contribution on top of your employer’s base-level contribution. Depending on the terms of your employment, this could be a way to boost your super balance while paying a relatively small amount of tax. Another option is to claim personal super contributions as a tax deduction (your ability to do this will depend on your employment status and the size of your contribution).
As retirement gets closer, it may be time to adjust your investment mix or to increase the amount of personal contributions you’re making to your super. Consider your current super balance, your current living expenses and your aspirations for retirement. If your children have left home, perhaps now is the time to save – or maybe you’re planning to live frugally after you retire. Either way, consider working with a financial planner to get a plan in place that will carry you into your 60s.
If you’re trying to decide exactly when to retire, keep in mind that currently any withdrawals from a normal super fund are tax-free once you turn 60.
Retirement beckons. By now, you should have a good idea of what your final super balance will be. Consider tweaking your investment mix to either protect your nest egg or – if you still have an appetite for risk – attempt to grow it even more. If you have savings outside the superannuation system, speak to a financial advisor about how best to protect those savings. Remember, you can still make personal contributions to your super after you turn 60, although the cap on these contributions changes as you get older.
Did you know... salary packaging your super contributions means money for your nest egg and less money paid out in tax? To find more, including whether you're eligible to salary package super contributions and how much you can save, visit smartsalary.com.au and enter the name of your employer.