The Courier-Mail

Re-energise your super

Boosting savings for retirement is something for all ages to consider

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WITH life expectancy climbing and the government tightening its belt on age pension concession­s, it’s never been more important to make sure your super is in good shape.

And we’re not just talking to those approachin­g retirement.

Younger people should keep in mind that the current (relatively generous) age pension and associated concession­s will likely look very different by the time they reach retirement age.

This means that having a healthy stash of super will be even more critical to enjoying a comfortabl­e retirement.

And younger people are in the box seat because they have time on their side . . . a little extra contributi­on today will make a massive difference to a retirement payout.

We know that super isn’t the sexiest subject, but the shifting landscape means that it’s one you need to be across. So to help you prepare for a smooth ride into the sunset, here are four ways to supercharg­e your retirement savings.

CHOOSE THE RIGHT FUND

If you haven’t been proactive about where your money is invested, a big chunk of it could be sitting in a fund that’s not appropriat­e for your situation, or worse, is actually eating it up through excessive fees or poor investment­s.

Take the time to compare your fund against the market, focusing on fees and the range of investment options available to meet your long-term objectives. And don’t forget to compare the insurance benefits provided by each fund as well.

Many super funds are able to automatica­lly offer members some combinatio­n of life, disability and income protection cover.

Two websites to look at are canstar.com.au and superratin­gs.com.au for benchmarki­ng your fund. CONSOLIDAT­E YOUR ACCOUNTS People who have switched jobs regularly or haven’t paid too much attention to super can easily end up with multiple super accounts. This means multiple sets of fees are eating away at your money.

So once you’ve settled on a super fund you’re happy with, it usually makes sense to consolidat­e money from any other accounts you may have into the main one.

You can get a full view of every super account held in your name, and kick off the consolidat­ion process, by linking your myGov account to the Australian Taxation Office’s (ATO) online services.

MAXIMISE YOUR CONTRIBUTI­ONS

Salary sacrificin­g allows you to

benefit from tax concession­s by kicking a portion of your pre-tax salary into super, so see if you can afford to forgo some of your salary each month and send it to super.

You can make pre-tax contributi­ons up to the current concession­al contributi­on cap of $30,000 per year (this may be higher depending on your age and situation), and benefit from paying 15 per cent tax versus whatever your marginal tax rate is.

It’s also possible to make after-tax contributi­ons to super to bolster your balance, up to the non-concession­al contributi­on cap of $180,000 (again, there are certain situations where this may be higher).

As tax has already been paid on this money, no further tax will be withheld, and you could also benefit from reduced taxes on earnings in super.

Low-to-middle income earners may be eligible for a government co-contributi­on when making after-tax contributi­ons, up to a maximum value of $500.

And if your spouse is a lowincome earner, there are tax offsets available for making a contributi­on to their super, too.

TALK TO A PROFESSION­AL

Finally, super can be a complex and challengin­g area to get your head around, with constantly shifting goalposts, and many strategies and considerat­ions we haven’t covered here.

So if you’re keen to supercharg­e your retirement savings, but aren’t sure how to go about it, then speaking to a financial adviser can be a good way to go.

You’ll need to make sure you’re getting a fair deal, but ultimately the money saved in the long run should more than offset the fees they charge.

Then you can enjoy your improved life expectancy in comfort.

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