October 21, 2017

10 Facts About Your Superannuation Entitlement

A lot of people plan for their retirement as early as possible because in this way, time is on their side, meaning they have more years to save up and have a comfortable life upon retirement. In Australia, employers pay superannuation contributions on behalf of their employees to a super fund.

Here are other facts about your entitlement to superannuation in Australia:

  1. Your employer should make superannuation contributions that are the equivalent of 9.5 percent of your ordinary time earnings. This is the superannuation guarantee based on annual entitlement.
  2. You will be eligible for superannuation guarantee if you have a monthly income of at least $450.
  3. If you are under 18 years of age, you still need to have a monthly income of at least $450 and work at least 30 hours.
  4. Starting 2013/2014 financial year, individuals who are 70 years of age and older are eligible for superannuation guarantee.
  5. You should pay the superannuation guarantee at least every three months. Your employer must pay the super entitlement to your super fund at least every quarter. If this is not the case, you can file a complaint at the Australian Taxation Office.
  6. There’s a maximum contributions base for those who have a high income. Those who are earning a huge amount of money will have a cap or limit to their superannuation guarantee. For the 2017/2018 financial year, the super contributions are the equivalent of 9.5 percent of your ordinary time earnings, but only up to a yearly cap of $211,040.
  7. Understand your remuneration package. You should ask your employer if your salary includes your super, or if it is calculated after super.
  8. Know the salary sacrifice arrangements. When you’re starting with a new job, make sure to understand the salary sacrifice rules and negotiate carefully. You may end up with the employer cutting your superannuation guarantee because of your salary sacrifice arrangement.
  9. Self-employed individuals can still get superannuation guarantee.  You can receive contributions and still have your super contributions tax-deductible, when you’re self-employed for the 2017/2017 financial year.
  10. Contributions count towards the concessional cap. The superannuation contributions made by your employer count towards your concessional cap before tax.

Here are several things that you need to know about superannuation. You can calculate how much money you need upon retirement and how much should be added to your super fund on a regular basis by using a retirement calculator.

Do you have other ideas on superannuation in Australia? Share your insights in the comments section.

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A Step-by-Step Guide to Comparing Your Superannuation Fund

For most people, it is essential to start retirement planning as early as possible. This gives them leverage in terms of comparing different superannuation products, and that time is their ally in growing their funds. But with several aspects to look into, how do you compare super funds and choose the right one for you? Here’s a step-by-step guide:

Step 1: Know the various funds available

In general, if you’re an employee, you can join a super fund through your employer. But you can also do it as an individual. The advantage of being a member of a group is that the fees are lower. Also, your super may have more growth potential than if you join as an individual.

Step 2: Collect personal data

Know your current account balance, level of contributions made during the year, investment options and returns, all fees that you pay, as well as insurance cover. You can get this information from your annual member statement. You can also gain access to these details when you register on your super fund’s website. It may likewise help to use a superannuation calculator, though the results may only be used as your guide. 

Step 3: Check the insurance

Do you have insurance cover on your existing fund? If yes, then make sure if the other fund that you’re considering offers the same type of cover or not. Look into whether you can maintain your insurance cover and for what premiums.

Step 4: Look into investment options

It is important to look into investment options and their performance because at the end of the day, you want to invest in something that offers better growth potential. Check if the fund has a solid investment strategy that’s based on expert analysis, and that you can change options later on with little to zero cost.

Step 5: Know the fees involved

The fees that you need to pay will have an impact on your investment returns. While there are fees to be paid occasionally, be wary about ongoing fees that are being deducted from your fund on a yearly basis. In general, check out all fees that are deducted from your contributions.

Step 6: Seek professional advice

Managing your super fund is a serious matter. Know and understand how it works to get the most out of your super. It also pays to seek help from a qualified individual so you will better understand aspects such as the amount of contributions, type of insurance that you need, fees involved, as well as the investment option that suits your needs and preferences.

Got other ideas on superannuation calculator and retirement planning? Share your tips in the comments section.

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Different Types of Super Funds

How much do you need to live comfortably upon retirement? When it comes to planning for retirement, you can ask an expert for superannuation advice so you can better understand the process. You can also use a superannuation calculator to give you an idea of the amount you need to contribute regularly for your super fund.

Retirement planning can be done as early as possible. There is a wide selection of super funds to choose from, so don’t be tempted to get the first one that you’ll see. Each type has its own features, and knowing your options can make the selection process easier. Here are the different categories of super funds:

MySuper

If you’re employed and you haven’t chosen your own super fund, your employer will pay contributions to your MySuper. It offers lower fees options when it comes to single or life stage investments, and life insurance on an opt-out basis. MySuper also has simple features wherein you don’t have to pay for services that you don’t need.

Retail funds

Banks and investment companies operate retail funds which offer a lot of investment options.  These are normally accumulation funds which can range from low-cost or MySuper up to high cost.

Industry funds

These are usually low to mid-cost funds, though some offer MySuper accounts. Unlike retail funds, industry funds have a smaller number of investment options. Most of these are accumulation funds. However, there are several older funds that have defined benefit members.

Self-managed super funds

For those wanting to manage their own superannuation, they usually do this via a self-managed super fund (SMSF). It is regulated by the Australian Taxation Office. This private super fund can have up to four members who are all trustees and are in-charge of making sure that the SMSF complies with laws associated with it.

Public sector funds

These are designed for employees of the departments of the Federal and State government.  This super fund offers low fees and a modest range of investment options. Some also offer MySuper accounts. New members of public sector funds are in an accumulation fund, while long-term members have defined benefits.

Corporate funds

Employers run corporate funds which offer a range of investment choices. These are usually low to mid-cost funds. Most members are into accumulation funds, while the older corporate funds come with defined benefit members.

Got other ideas on superannuation in Australia? Share your tips on retirement planning in the comments section. 

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Is Self Managed Super Fund (SMSF) Right for You?

Even when you’re still young, planning for retirement as early as possible is important. This ensures that you’ll be financially secure after you retire. Some people want to manage their own retirement plan or superannuation. It is referred to as self managed super fund (SMSF). While there are many benefits of handling your own retirement fund, there are also several factors that you need to consider.

Is SMSF suitable for you? Here are some things to think about:

  • If you’re considering to control your super to get the most out of your money, be prepared to invest time and effort so you can properly manage your super. You can get assistance of course, but you’ll be in full control of your retirement plan.
  • You should have at least $300,000 for your self managed super fund. You also need to consider the ongoing costs associated with operating an SMSF. These include Australian Taxation Office (ATO) fees, investment fees, as well as annual tax return and audit. You can use a superannuation calculator to give you an idea on how much you need to have.
  • If you’re planning to go overseas for a longer period of time, make sure to seek professional advice. Follow the rules and regulations being implemented by the ATO when it comes to extended leave from Australia. Otherwise, you may have to pay large penalties.
  • Come up with an exit strategy. Since you’re in full control of your SMSF, you’re also in-charge of setting up an exit strategy in the event that you need to close your SMSF. Bear in mind that there are costs involved in closing your fund.
  • There are specialist support providers who can help you in managing your SMSF. Support services are available to assist you with regards to administration and compliance of your fund. Whenever you need someone along the way, you can likewise reach out to an independent auditor or accountant.

These are just some of the things to take into consideration when it comes to self managed super funds. Planning for retirement really does come with a lot of considerations. Take time to do some research and look at your superannuation options. You can also seek retirement advice from family members and friends so you can come up with a well-informed decision.

Got other ideas on self managed super fund and retirement planning in Australia? Share your insights on retirement plans in the comments section.

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10 Benefits of Superannuation that You Might not Know About

When it comes to retirement planning, you’ll most likely hear the term superannuation. Its purpose is to help people prepare for retirement and secure the future. Using a superannuation calculator can give you an idea of how much super you’ll have when you retire.

Without it, you’ll find it very hard to live comfortably once you retire. Aside from this, here are the other benefits of superannuation:

1. Lower Tax Rate on Contributions

Super is designed with a series of tax breaks to encourage contribution. You and your employer can set up a salary sacrifice agreement that involves exchanging the income tax rate with the lower 15% super contributions tax rate. There are different rules for low income earners and high income earners to be aware of.

2. Ability to Choose your Super Investment Options

If you are a member of a super fund you can generally specify what your risk appetite is for investment. You can decide on investment options such as Growth, Balanced, Conservative or Cash.

3. No tax upon retirement

There will be no tax on capital gains or income once your superannuation starts paying the allocated pension. If you retire before reaching 60 years old, the superannuation will handle the 15% tax of the assessable amount until you reach the age of 60.

4. Tax on Investment earnings

In general, money made through investments within a superannuation comes with a lower tax rate compared to those made outside of the superannuation. It’s usually taxed at a maximum rate of 15%. Capital gains longer than 12 months within the fund will be taxed at 10%. This can be further reduced by tax deductions or tax credits.

5. Investment in bigger assets

You and other superannuation members can pool your retirement savings so you can invest in bigger assets.

6. Less expensive insurance cover

Insurers can usually offer a more affordable deal when publicly offered superannuation gets insurance policies in bulk. Paying for insurance premiums is also more convenient since these can be automatically deducted from your superannuation account.

7. Continue the insurance cover

Many insurers have an option to keep your insurance cover even after leaving your employer. This is greatly beneficial for those who find it hard to get the same levels of insurance protection.

8. Co-contribution from the government

You can get a tax-free co-contribution or bonus top-up form the federal government if you make non-concessional contributions to your superannuation account.

9. Avoid insurance medical exam

There are large superannuation accounts that offer automatic cover for new members without undergoing a medical exam.

10. Death Benefit Nomination (DBN)

If you use a binding death benefit nomination, you can ensure that your money will go to the right people when you die.

Know other benefits of superannuation in Australia? Share your retirement planning or superannuation advice in the comments section.

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How to Make Sure You have Enough Retirement Money to Take Overseas Trips

After many years of working full-time, most, if not all, Australians look forward to retirement. It’s the time when people relax, go on a vacation, and spend time with loved ones. This is a time to do whatever it is that you want to do but have no time or even resources to do so while you’re still working.

Of course, your salary will stop coming in once you retire, so it’s really important to save money and plan for retirement to ensure a comfortable life. But how can you make sure that you have enough retirement money for things that you want to do such as overseas trips? Here are several things to consider when planning for retirement:

Know how much superannuation you’ll need

This serves as the main source of income for retirees. In retirement planning, consider your future lifestyle needs. For instance, taking a vacation overseas costs money. You also need to consider future costs such as medical expenses. Make sure to have a clear vision of what you want to do so you’ll know how much superannuation you would need to maintain your lifestyle.

Use a superannuation calculator

This can give you an estimate of how much super is enough to keep the lifestyle that you want.

Update your superannuation fund

If you think that your current funds may not be able to meet your desired target, you may want to update your superannuation by increasing your regular contributions and/or finding competitive rates. The higher the interest rate, the more money you’ll have when you retire.

Consider investment options

Superannuation is not the only financial source for when you retire. You can ensure that you have enough retirement money for overseas trips by having other investment products to increase your savings.

Create a budget

When you have a budget, you’ll know how much money you’ll need and allocate funds to what you want to do. Budgeting can give you peace of mind, not worrying about whether there’s enough money to enjoy retirement.

Retirement planning should be done as early as possible so you’ll have more time to increase your superannuation and savings in general. You may also want to seek superannuation advice from professionals to better guide you on what to do to ensure that you’ll have enough money for overseas vacations and other activities that you want to do upon retirement.

Do you know other tips when it comes to superannuation in Australia? Share your insights in the comments section.

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Top 8 Things People Do When They Retire

Run into retirement with some of these ideas of things to do when you stop working in Australia.

Retirement is your time to enjoy life and put energy into things you love. If you’re struggling to think of things to do that is normal.  To help here’s a list of the top 8 things people do when they retire:

Go on a holiday

Whether it’s a cruise, ski trip, winery tour, caravanning holiday, or backpacking through Asia, retirees love to travel. Now that you’re not bound to the work schedule, why not make the most of the great off-peak deals that come up.

Buy something

Making a big purchase is common during early retirement. Don’t go over the top and use up all the wealth you have accumulated over a lifetime. But, it’s generally better to do big spends early when you have lots of time to enjoy it.

Get a job

Yep, start working again! For some, retirement isn’t about ‘not working, but ‘not working for income’. Maybe you want to do something fun and different, transfer your knowledge to the next generation, or just hang out with people. Whatever the reason, going back to work on your terms is an option.

Join a group

Without the ready-made social interaction of the workplace, retires look elsewhere for the same sense of belonging. There no shortage of groups with all sorts of causes, aims or interests to join. There is literally something for everyone.

Start an old hobby

Getting back into an old hobby is a bit like catching back up with an old friend, and why it’s a popular activity during retirement. Hobbies don’t have to be new and edgy, focus on what you find enjoyable and rewarding, even if this is an old hobby.

Move

Sick of the cold winters or busy city traffic? Now’s the time to move somewhere you want to be not where your work is located. You will be part of a growing number of retirees who choose to live where they want, not where a job is.

Commit more time to relationships

Retirement gives you time to put more effort into personal relationships; both family and friends. Doing so will help maintain meaningful social interaction.

Plan for the future

Retirement isn’t the end, but only the beginning. Like any other stage in life, some setting some goals and have a plan is critical. Why not use your retirement to achieve something great?

If you’re coming up to retirement age, use some of these ideas or use a superannuation calculator to get yourself thinking about how you will spend your retirement in Australia.

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You’re About to Retire in Australia. What Happens to Your Super?

There are a couple of ways to access your super in retirement to get the most out of your money.

It’s 4:20 pm and the work day is nearly done. But this is no ordinary work day. This day your last work day ever! There’s been a cake, a few tears, a golden watch, a bit of box packing, and in a few minutes the workday is going to end and never start again.

Congratulations. Hopefully, you used a superannuation calculator earlier in life to make a retirement plan. If you did, you should be confident that you will live a comfortable life on rewards of all the years of work you did.

While you’re going through the transition from working to retired, your super funds also change. Here’s are the two broad options; take all your money or transfer it into an ‘income stream’.

Take all your money (aka lump sum payment)

After preservation age, retirees can withdraw superannuation and use it as they see fit. The benefit of this is flexibility. If retirees want to purchase a house, go on a holiday, pay for a new car and invest it as they like, then they can.

The downside is they may lose some of the tax benefits of investing through super accounts. While retirees aren’t taxed to take the money out of super, they will likely be taxed at their marginal tax rate on any income it produces once it is outside super. In comparison, the tax rate for gains within super is only 15%. If investments make a significant annual return, depending on the situation, it may be more tax effective to keep it with the super system. To do this, retirees may need to use an income stream.

Income streams

Pensions

Pensions work similarly to a retirees current superannuation account. In this case, people keep their money invest in funds and receive capital growth and income from these investments. They can choose to receive this income, with or without their own capital. The downside is the income is subject to market performance.

Annuities

With an annuity, retirees lock in the amount they will be paid each year at the start. So regardless of how the markets perform they will be paid the amount they set at the beginning. This does, however, limit the upside potential of their investments.

The good news is that retirees can mix and match between all the options or swap options later if they change your mind.

They could take a part lump sum, then transfer the rest to an income stream, only to take whatever is remaining as a lump sum in twenty years’ time.

Maximising retirement savings can require some intricate planning based on individual circumstance and desired lifestyle. It is definitely worth discussing your specific needs with an independent retirement planner.

Now you have a basic idea of what the options are with super, all you need to do is solve a much tricky problem; how will enjoy your super balance in Australia?

Are you a recent retiree, we’d love to hear what worked for you at retirement in the comments section below.

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How to Find Your Missing Superannuation in Australia

Sometimes you can lose track of small or old super balances. Fortunately finding lost super is easier than recovering a ‘misplaced’ wallet at home.

If you spent time working multiple casual or part time jobs you probably ended up with a few superannuation accounts. It is only recently that employees were free to have superannuation contributions go into an existing account.

Previously the employer would open a new account for you. Fortunately, you can now combine superannuation accounts, or in some cases cash out small balances.

If you’re getting a bit a superannuation advice or using a superannuation calculator to do some retirement planning, you should also do a search for missing superannuation. It’s dead easy and free, and you might be pleasantly surprised by what you find.

Here is how to find your missing superannuation:

Check with AUSfund and the ATO

Before 2014, small, inactive superannuation balances were transferred to AUSfund. The funds are held in owner’s name but combined with money from lots of different unclaimed accounts. You can check for your money at https://ausfund.com.au. You can claim and roll your money into another superannuation account if you find any that belongs to you.

Since 2014, superannuation balances have been sent to the ATO to hold. To check if they are holding any of your lost super, you will need to sign into the myGov website. Once you have an account, all you will need to check for missing superannuation is your TFN.

That’s it. All you need to do a quick search with AUSfund and with the ATO.

Combine your balances

If you do find superannuation, which belongs to you, can transfer the amount into your main superannuation account. Your current provider will be able to do this for you.

It’s a good idea to consolidate your superannuation into one account as it will make it easier for you to have a clear investment strategy. It also makes sense to keep your superannuation in the account with the lowest fees. Even small percentage difference have a huge effect on the amount you will have come retirement time.

Finding lost superannuation is quick and easy. Jump online now and search with AUSfund and the ATO.

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What is a Self Managed Super Fund (SMSF)

A private superannuation fund is one that you manage yourself. In Australia, this is what is referred to as a self managed super fund (SMSF). The Australian Taxation Office is responsible for regulating a SMSF; the fund is entitled to a maximum of four members. Each member must be a trustee, or if there is a corporate trustee they must be directors. They are responsible for making decisions concerning the fund. To those who have a SMSF, it is your responsibility to manage it and comply with the law.

There is a difference between mainstream funds and self managed super funds. A mainstream fund is regulated by the Australian Prudential Authority (APRA) and they pool the savings of its members and invest on their behalf.

How to manage a SMSF

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is responsible for regulating self managed super funds, which are legal tax structures. Their main aim is to provide for an individuals retirement.

It is difficult to run your own fund. There are several things that you must do when running an SMSF, these include:

  • Take on the role of trustee or director and impose the required legal duties.
  • Establish an investment strategy and follow it to ensure that it meets your retirement needs.
  • Use the available funds so that retirement benefits are provided for.
  • Keep extensive records and allow them to be audited yearly by an auditor.

What you will need to run the fund

  • A substantial amount of capital to set the fund and run it for one year.
  • To budget for continuous expenses such as audit, accounting, financial and legal advice.
  • The financial expertise to make effective investment decisions. It is a good idea to hire a professional in their area to look at your circumstances and provide advice.
  • To arrange your own insurance which includes permanent and total disability cover as well as income protection.

In order to plan your budget accordingly and work out how administrative fees effect your final payout, you can use superannuation calculator from Australian Securities and Investment Commission website.

SMSF Advisers

If you need assistance with investment decisions or administration you can hire a SMSF adviser. However, you cannot pass on your responsibility of a trustee or director.

Before you get any advice from your accountant, make sure that they are licensed. You can check by asking for their AFSL licence number, you can also search their name on the ASIC financial adviser register this will enable you to check what type of products they are qualified to advise on.

Final thought

If you would like to set up an SMSF you will need to be fully committed. Make sure that you do the required research prior to making a final decision.

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