You can ignore your super and hope that one day it will be able to support you in retirement, or you can take an active involvement in its growth.
For a comfortable retirement, Australia’s super industry research body, the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) has estimated a couple would need an annual income of $59,971. If you don’t think your super balance is on track to achieve this, you might want to try some of these strategies for maximising your super.
1. Monitor your fund’s performance
Keep an eye on your super fund’s long-term returns and compare it with other funds. There are many super comparison websites that rate different super funds but be sure to look carefully at their scoring system to ensure you are comparing fairly.
It’s important to take an overall view of your fund’s performance, including its fees, investment options, extra benefits, insurance and service. Compare its returns over five years, not one, as last year’s best performer might not stay consistent.
If you decide to switch funds, make sure you are not losing out on life insurance and income protection cover.
2. Do it Yourself Super
A self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF) will give you control over how your super is invested if you are prepared to put in the time and effort required. When you run your own SMSF you can quickly buy or sell assets, choose your own shares and invest in property.
There are numerous benefits to establishing an SMSF, but there are also risks. It’s important to seek professional advice and do your research on reputable sites like ASIC’s Money Smart.
3. Salary Sacrifice
Ask your employer to reduce your salary and put it in your super fund account. This salary sacrifice strategy means you are continually contributing a part of your pre-tax salary to your super instead of taking it as cash. In addition to boosting your super, it will entitle you to tax benefits.
4. Know your tax entitlements
If your spouse earns $37,000 or less you are entitled to a tax offset when you contribute to their super account.
Low income earners with a taxable income of up to $37,000, who make after tax contributions to super receive a tax offset contribution into their super provided they meet certain requirements.
If you are self-employed, your personal super contributions are fully tax deductible provided you meet age and other eligibility criteria.
5. Combine your accounts
Locating all your lost super and consolidating them into a single account will make it easier to keep track of everything and you’ll only have to pay one management fee.