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  • Writer's pictureThe Economist

How much super should I have at my age?

See the average super balance for your age group, so you can get an idea of how your super savings compare.

Your super balance will most likely play a big part in how comfortably you live in retirement. However, depending on how far off retirement is for you, it might be difficult to gauge whether your super is on track, or if you might need a bit more saved up to live the type of lifestyle you want after you finish working.

Below we look at what figures from the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) reveal, and how you might go about topping up your super, if you’re in a position and choose to do so.

How does your super stack up?

If you’re curious to know how your super balance shapes up against others your age, the table below shows the average super balances for employed men and women of different age groups across Australia, according to ASFA.

If your balance looks a bit low compared to the average for your age group, there could be several reasons for this, including time taken out of the workforce to study, travel or care for older relatives. Alternatively, you may have been out of work, working part-time or earning a wage lower than others your age.

You might also notice that women are more likely to have lower super balances than their male counterparts, which is likely due to factors impacting their financial situation, such as taking time off work to raise children.

How much super do you need anyway?

The amount of super you need to live comfortably in retirement depends on a range of factors, such as your expenses, any outstanding debts you might have and whether you have access to other forms of income like investments, savings, an inheritance, or the government’s Age Pension, which not everyone will be eligible for.

According to March 2021 figures, individuals and couples, around age 65, who are looking to retire today would need an annual budget of around $44,412 or $62,828 respectively to fund a comfortable lifestyle.

To live a modest lifestyle, which is considered better than living on the Age Pension alone, individuals and couples would need an annual budget of around $28,254 or $40,829 respectively.

Note, these figures are based on the assumption people own their home outright and are relatively healthy.

But remember, everyone’s situation is different.

What you could do if your super balance needs a boost?

If you notice your super balance isn’t as high as you’d like it to be, here are some steps that could help you to increase what you have.

Find your lost super

If you’ve changed jobs, your name or address over the years, or worked part-time or casual jobs, there’s a chance you may have lost track of some of your super and could be paying multiple fees on different accounts. Find out more about how to find your lost or unclaimed super.

Consider whether consolidating funds might be worthwhile

There may be advantages to rolling multiple super accounts into one, like fewer fees and less admin but you’ll need to be across potential exit fees, tax implications and if you could lose certain benefits, such as insurance. It's recommended you speak to a financial adviser before doing this.

Review your investment options

Depending on how far you are from retirement, you might think about switching to a more growth-focused super investment option. Keep in mind however that returns aren’t guaranteed and the opportunity for higher returns are often accompanied by higher risk, so do your research before making any decisions.

Check out other important details

Your super should be working for you, so it’s important to review it at least once a year and check things like fund performance (noting, past performance isn’t an indicator of future performance), any fees you might be paying, what insurance you might have inside your super and whether it suits your current needs.

Consider voluntary contributions with benefits

Salary sacrifice contributions – This is where you choose to have some of your before-tax income paid into your super by your employer, on top of what they might pay you under the super guarantee, if you’re eligible. It does mean a reduction in your take-home pay. However, as you’ll only be taxed 15% on the money you salary sacrifice (or 30% if your total income exceeds $250,000), for most people it means you’ll likely pay less tax on these contributions than you do on your income.

Tax deductible contributions – These are voluntary contributions you may choose to make using after-tax dollars (such as when you transfer funds from your bank account into your super), which you then claim a tax deduction for. These can be made by both self-employed people and employees.

Co-contributions from the government - If you’re a low to middle-income earner and have made an after-tax contribution to your super fund, which you don’t claim a tax deduction for, you might be eligible for a government co-contribution of up to $500.

Spouse contributions - If you’re earning more than your partner and would like to top up their retirement savings, or vice versa, you may be able to claim an 18% tax offset on up to $3,000 through your tax return.

Downsizer contributions - If you’re 65 or over and eligible, you may be able to make an after-tax downsizer contribution to your super of up to $300,000, using the proceeds from the sale of a qualifying property, regardless of your work status, super balance, or restrictions that otherwise apply.

Other things to keep in mind

  • The value of your investment in super can go up and down.

  • There are general rules around when you can access your super.

  • If you’re 67 or over and making a voluntary contribution, you’ll need to have met (or be exempt from) the work test.

Where to go for more information

Like to learn more about your super, book a complimentary Discovery Meeting with a WCG adviser today.

Original article.


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