What You Need to Know About Superannuation
Superannuation is important for each and every Australian. With the average life expectancy over 80 years old, many Australians spend 10-20 years of their life retired. The age pension is often not enough to support the lifestyle that retired Australians want to live. According to 2021 statistics from the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA):
A comfortable lifestyle requires a budget of $63,352 for couples and $44,818 for singles
The full age pension rate is $37,341 for couples and $24,770 for singles
There is a clear gap between the pension and the budget that many Australians would require to enjoy the kind of lifestyle they would like at retirement. If you and your partner are retired for ten years, your living costs over that period will likely be over $600,000.
That's why it's important to financially prepare for retirement, enabling you to spend more quality time in the ways that you choose. Superannuation is one of the most important parts of your retirement plan.
What is Superannuation?
Superannuation in Australia is money that has been set aside by your employers over your working life. It is essentially money built up for you to go into your retirement or used in dire situations.
The money in your super account is invested in assets to create returns for you in the future. Some super accounts also offer insurance cover with life insurance or income protection. The managers of your super fund invest your super contributions into assets such as property, stocks, government bonds, and cash deposits.
How Companies Pay Super
If you earn over $450 a month (before tax) and are over 18 years old, your employer is required to make contributions into a super account for you.
Companies pay staff superannuation automatically, and you can tell them whether you would like to choose their default fund or another account you already have. This applies whether you are a casual, part-time or full-time employee. The contribution rate is currently set at 10% and is set to increase over the coming years. See the current and future general super guarantee here.
Why Superannuation Matters
In our busy day-to-day lives, planning for retirement is often the furthest thing from our minds. It can be hard to find the time to think about something 10,20,30 years in the future when we have worries that need to be addressed today.
However, the decisions you make now are crucial in determining the kind of retirement you will have. By monitoring your super, and choosing the best superannuation fund for you, you can make sure that you're set up for a comfortable future. You can also research the best performing funds available; however, past performance is not always indicative of future performance.
How to Change Super Funds
Superannuation is an essential long term investment, and small variations in fund performance can result in significant losses or gains in the future. In 2021, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) reported that one million Australians belonged to an underperforming super fund. When choosing your super fund, you might want to research the performance and fees of each particular fund to compare.
Your employer’s default fund might not be the best choice for you, and it is worth investigating other options. If you have multiple accounts, you can log into MyGov to consolidate them, or if you’re opening a new account, you can contact the fund directly. Many funds give you a choice of how to invest, for example, in a balanced option or in ethical industries. For more information, read this article from the ABC on changing and choosing a super fund.
How to Optimise Your Super
1) Merge Extra Accounts
Have you ever started a new job and signed up for a new superannuation fund? Over your working life, it is easy to lose track and end up with several super accounts from previous employers. Through MyGov, you can transfer your super into one account, thereby saving on fees and ultimately increasing your balance in the future. Consolidating your super is an easy step you can take to increase your long term investment returns.
2) Keep Track of Lost Super
Did you know that as of March 2021, there was around $13.8 billion in lost and unclaimed Aussie super? There are many reasons that you might lose track of a super account and be unable to be contacted by the fund. Fortunately, the Australian government passed laws in 2019 that require super providers to pay inactive low-balance accounts to the ATO. You can find out if you have any lost or unclaimed super here.
3) Know Your Rights
In most situations, your employer is required to pay superannuation contributions to your chosen fund on top of your wages and salary. There are also laws governing how much your employer should contribute: this must meet a minimum percentage which is set to increase in the coming years. Your employer should know how to calculate your super and make contributions on your behalf. Learn more about the basics of your superannuation entitlements as an employee at the ATO website here.
Prime Super (Principal Partner of RCSA)
As a member of the Recruitment, Consulting and Staffing Association Australia & New Zealand (RCSA), the peak body for the recruitment and staffing industry, TRS Resourcing uses Prime Super as our preferred fund. Prime Super has over 120,000 members with approximately $6.2 billion in funds. They offer choice and flexibility to members with 11 different investment options that cater to varying appetites for risk.
Prime Super has excellent resources on the basics of super which you can read here.
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