Do you rule your superannuation or does it rule you?
It’s easy to fall for some myths about your super unless you do some clear thinking about who is in charge. Virtually all Australian employees now have a superannuation account, many have several, even more than they know about. We all hope to use this money to fund our retirement, but unless you look after your super then you are in danger of losing some of your money along the way.
Myth number 1. Someone else can look after my super. Only partly right. It is possible go through your working life letting your super run on autopilot, but you may be in for an unpleasant surprise if you don’t keep an eye on your super. Make sure your employer is paying the correct amount, and that if your employer goes broke your super is still available.
If you change jobs you need to decide if you wish to ‘roll over’ the money into another fund. This is especially important if you change jobs frequently. You can find that you have relatively small amounts scattered over several funds, and in each you will be paying a management fee before you earn any distribution or interest. In the long term inflation will eat away at the value of your principle, even though the dollar amount stays the same. Many super companies provide a free service to consolidate small accounts for you. Use them.
Myth number 2. It’s not my money until I retire. Dead wrong. It’s your money, just like the rest of the money in your pay packet. Super funds are providing a service of managing your money until you can legally access it when you retire. You have control of it. After July 2005 you will have even more say about your money. If you are not happy with the service you should tell the service provider. If they can’t fix your problem, then you can sack them and put your money elsewhere.
Myth number 3. I don’t need to worry about it until I am at least fifty-something. Not really. Australians are enjoying longer lives and better health. You will need more money if you want to have more options in retirement. You will probably need to top up your super to achieve financial independence in your golden years. The sooner you start the better.
The Australian Government is generously giving away our money to help lower and middle income earners top up their super. It’s called the superannuation co-contribution scheme. If you, or your spouse, are eligible you should make sure you get your share.
Fact number 1.Our superannuation is our money. To look after your super you need to learn about your rights and options. It’s a long term task. You need to get information and advice. Don’t rush, but start soon.