It can be easy to forget about your super. Most of us don’t go further than looking at the amount next to ‘superannuation’ on our pay slips. But if you want to retire comfortably, it could take a bit more effort. Much earlier down the track than you might think. In other words, it might be wise to start taking some responsibility for boosting your own super savings.
Whilst investment returns and compound interest do make a difference, if you want to make the most of retired life, you might want to consider your options.
That’s easier said than done for some people. After all, not all industries have the kind of competitive conditions where employers offer more than 9.5% super. Or where wage growth beats inflation. The good news is that you don’t need to convince your boss to put in more. Or anyone else for that matter. You can do it yourself.
You should get a super statement at least once a year. It’s a good idea to get familiar with it, and know what all the different items mean. But before you can put all that statement info in to action, you’ve got to know what you’re aiming for.
Set yourself a rough retirement balance target to start with. If you’re not sure, you can use the ASFA Retirement Standard as a starting point. For a couple wanting to live a ‘comfortable’ lifestyle (around $60,000 a year), ASFA recommends a retirement balance of $640,000. You can add or subtract depending on your lifestyle preferences.
Now look at your statement. What does the balance say? Are you on track to hit your goal? If you’re not sure, try the MoneySmart retirement planner. This will give you a better idea of how much extra you’ll need to add to hit your goal.
Usually it doesn’t sound fun giving up something you could enjoy now, because psychologically, it’s hard to imagine enjoying it down the track. This could be something to look into with your financial advisor to understand if it could benefit your circumstances.
Salary sacrifice is where you give up a portion of your pre-tax income, and divert it straight to your super account. You don’t miss it the way you would with cash coming out of your bank account. And you don’t have to sacrifice a lot to make a difference. There could be some tax benefits to this, you can find out more from a registered financial advisor.
Note: not all employers offer salary sacrifice arrangements and there are limits on the amount of additional contributions you can make. Check with your company first, and also check out the Australian Taxation Office requirements.
You may also be able to contribute to your super from your after-tax income. Check the Australian Taxation Office website to see if you would be eligible to claim these contributions against your tax at the end of the year.
These are just some ideas you could consider. It’s important to get independent professional advice before making any decisions that could impact your future.