A healthy super balance is a key ingredient to living comfortably in retirement. But for many people, retirement is a long way off, and it can be hard to know if your super is on track. If you’ve ever been curious about how your super savings match up, read on to find out.
How much super do I need?
The amount of super you need to live comfortably in retirement depends on a range of factors, such as your cost of living, any outstanding debts you owe including a home loan, and whether or not you have other income streams such as investment returns.
The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) retirement standard estimates if you own a home outright, singles will need retirement savings of $545,000 for a comfortable retirement, while couples will need combined retirement savings of $640,000.
How does your super compare?
Curious to know how your super account balance shapes up against others your age? The table below shows the average super balances for employed Australian men and women of different ages (excluding those with no super):
If your balance looks low, there could be several reasons why your super is lagging behind your peers – taking time out of the workforce to study, travel or care for older relatives, or perhaps being out of work, working part-time or earning a lower wage than others your age.
As the figures show, women are more likely to have lower super balances than their male counterparts – likely due to factors impacting their financial situation, such as taking time off work to raise children.
What to do if your super balance needs a boost?
If you check your super every 6-12 months and notice your balance isn’t as high as you’d like it to be, start with these quick and easy steps to give it a potential boost:
- Search for lost super. Money belonging to you might be sitting in an account you’ve forgotten about.
- If you have accounts with multiple super funds, think about consolidating it into one account. You could save on fees and charges that may be eating into your balance. However, you’ll need to check for exit or termination fees and ensure your insurance cover isn’t affected.
- Consider how your super is invested. Depending on how far you are from retirement you might think about switching it into a more growth-focused investment option. But bear in mind that returns aren’t guaranteed and that higher risk accompanies the opportunity for higher returns. There’s also a risk you may lock in losses, so seek financial advice or contact your super fund.
Here are some ways to boost your balance over the long term by making additional contributions:
- Salary sacrificing: You can contribute extra cash into your super from your before-tax salary. The amount contributed will only be taxed at 15% if you earn under $250,000 a year or 30% if you earn $250,000 or more a year, rather than at your usual marginal tax rate. However, make sure your total concessional super contributions (including any your employer makes on your behalf) don’t exceed $25,000 per year. You’ll need to speak to your payroll department to set up a salary sacrifice arrangement.
- Personal tax-deductible contributions: If your employer doesn’t offer salary sacrifice, you’re unemployed, self-employed or you don’t want to salary sacrifice, you can make a personal tax-deductible contribution to your super. The amount you contribute is taxed at 15% if you earn under $250,000 a year, 30% if you earn $250,000 or more a year, and subject to the $25,000 per year limit.
- After-tax contributions (also known as non-concessional contributions): There’s a $100,000 limit per financial year on the amount of after-tax contributions you can make. If you are under age 65 at 1 July of the year the contribution is made, you can also ‘bring forward’ up to two years’ worth of after-tax contributions and make up to $300,000 contribution in a financial year.
- Spouse contributions: If your partner is out of work, a stay-at-home parent, working part-time or earning less than $40,000, adding to their super could benefit you both financially.
- Government contributions: If you’re a low or middle-income earner, you may be eligible for a co-contribution from the government when you add after-tax money to your super.
Need more help with your super?
To help make sure your retirement income will give you a comfortable life after work, speak to your financial adviser.