Category Archives: Retirement

Boosting Super with the Work Test Exemption

If you’re a recent retiree and looking to increase your superannuation savings, here’s some good news!

The Australian Government is proposing to make it easier for recent retirees to save more super by allowing them to contribute for a year without having to show that they’ve been ‘gainfully employed’.

The former rules

Anyone below 65 can contribute to their super regardless of whether they work or not. But those aged between 65 and 74 need to meet the work test before they can make super contributions. To pass the test, they have to show that they’ve been gainfully employed for at least 40 hours over 30 consecutive days in the financial year they plan to contribute.

The government has already given members with a total super balance of less than $500,000 some flexibility to further grow their super. These individuals can carry forward any unused amount below the concessional contribution cap of $25,000 on a rolling basis for five years starting from 1 July 2018. They can use their unused cap amounts from 1 July 2019.  But people between 65 and 74 must still meet the work test before they can make these ‘catch‑up’ contributions.

The new measure

Now, to encourage this age group to save more for retirement, the government is proposing to give individuals who don’t meet the work test an extra year to beef up their super savings. From 1 July 2019, those aged between 65 and 74 with a super balance below $300,000 are able to make voluntary contributions in the first financial year that they don’t satisfy the work test requirement. Once eligible, they don’t have to remain under the $300,000 balance cap during the 12‑month period.

The annual concessional and non-concessional contributions caps will continue to apply, but members can access any unused concessional contributions cap amounts they have carried forward.

The government will assess total super balances at 30 June of the financial year in which members last met the work test.

Seek professional advice

If you’re considering contributing to your super under the proposed work test exemption, it may be wise to speak to your adviser to see how making additional super contributions may work to your advantage.

Your Super is too Important to Ignore

Superannuation is the one thing you could do for your financial future this year, that could make a big difference to your retirement income. But how much do you really need?

That’s the million dollar, half a million dollar…? question.

Everyone’s needs are different.  Unexpected expenses just crop up, life gets busy and none of us have any clue how long we will actually be in retirement.

Of course, we’d like to think that the safety net of the age pension will still be around in years to come, but just how generous the country can afford to be with this payment, and who will be eligible, is also unknown as this may change year to year.  Sadly, none of us have a crystal ball, and we know it isn’t a lot!

So what exactly are some of the big expenses in retirement we need to budget for?

  • Healthcare
  • Aged Care
  • Food and Beverages
  • Utilities
  • Travel
  • Entertainment
  • Planned or unplanned expenses, i.e. a new car or home renovations

What major impacts could affect our superannuation?

  • How long you live
  • Your health
  • The rate of inflation
  • How much you earn on investments
  • Whether or not you have dependents – yes some retirees still have dependents!

It is wise to have a plan when it comes to your retirement income and a professional financial adviser can help you get a plan in place that is easy for you to manage now, and meets the needs of your ideal retirement.

If you want to start to get your super sorted this year, give me a call on 07 5593 0855.

Punch and Judy do Super Splitting

This one is for our Aussie readers and a great strategy for some couples to help manage their retirement savings.  If you’re an international reader, does your government offer something similar?  I’d love to hear how it’s done in your country.

A spouse contribution split can help reduce a member’s total superannuation (retirement savings) balance below a trigger point or, when used as an ongoing annual strategy, can help achieve a measure of account equalisation between spouses.  It can also be helpful to reduce a super balance where one spouse is somewhat older than another.

Firstly, to be eligible, the receiving spouse must be under 65 and, if over preservation age, not retired. (Where the receiving spouse turns 65 during the year of the split, action will need to take place before their birthday and is paid as a rollover super benefit.)

Too much jargon right?   So what does it look like?

Punch and Judy are married.  Punch is now the sole breadwinner as Judy wants to stay home for a couple of years while The Baby is still cute.  She’s not earning and her Super retirement savings will be impacted.

Punch is on a good wicket and gets a hefty amount paid into his Super fund by his employer.  Because Judy is amazing, and doing a brilliant job with their kid, Punch wants to make sure she’s not disadvantaged and chooses to split his super with her.

Punch has a sufficient account balance and as his boss has put in a $25,000 contribution, he can pass over up to 85% or $21,250 to Judy’s fund.  Happy wife, happy life!

Punch is a good partner, be like Punch… (ok, he’s usually a tosser, but this time he’s nice!)

Contributions splitting does not reduce the contributions originally made for the member for reporting and contribution caps purposes.

If you think Super Splitting could be beneficial for your family, it’s worth chatting with an adviser to find out more to find out the tips and traps and whether it’s right for you.

Retirement Goals!

For some, retirement is a long way off!  For others, it seems to be creeping up a lot more quickly than expected.  The years have flown by and it’s time to start taking stock.

Many who visit me in their late 40’s to mid 50’s sometimes realise that they’ve put retirement on the back burner for a little too long.  With taking care of the Mortgage and the kids… retirement saving was a long way down the list!

But for those ready to hang up the boots, whether at 65, 70 or beyond… what can you expect?

Many advise that a new kind of balance is required, one that takes a bit more planning than expected.

It’s good to start thinking about your vision for your retired life and the values you have that may drive those goals.  Have you been planning travel? volunteering? hanging out with the grand kids? visiting more with elderly parents? taking up a hobby?

Strange tho it may seem, retirement and pure leisure hours only, can impact your health.  Everything you’ve ever known has suddenly stopped.  Routine, income and your network is no more which can have a big impact on mental health especially.  Choosing to be optimistic about your future options is incredibly important.

Family relationships can also come under scrutiny.  Suddenly spending 24/7 with your life partner may not be what either of you expect.  Learning how to communicate what both of you need, while maintaining some sense of independence is vital!

Are you looking to replace the hours you spent working with something else?  Some enjoy volunteering, others enjoy researching the family history or writing that book that you always put off, even learning a new skill or going back to school can be considered.  Travel plans also need consideration – those who’ve traveled extensively during their work life may not wish to venture so far from home, others can’t wait to become intrepid explorers!

Often, what to do with the family home also needs consideration.  Some empty-nesters love keeping their family home and it’s memories, others like to move on and downsize for less maintenance and possibly availing themselves of additional funds.  Moving interstate to be near the family or a group of friends also needs consideration but taking on too many things at once can be a little overwhelming… it’s good to learn to pace yourself.

Managing the finances also requires careful consideration.  Some find that their immediate spend in the first few years following retirement is much higher than they’d previously thought it might be.  Funding travel or new gadgets may be fun, but if they haven’t been budgeted for, can impact the long term value of savings.  Longevity risk is gaining a lot of exposure now, with many living well into their 90’s and hoping they don’t outlive their savings.

Who knew that ‘hanging up the boots’ could be so complicated?

It’s a great idea to sit down with your adviser and talk through your options.  What works for one, won’t work for all, so setting and achieving what’s important to you is vital.

Saving for retirement: Hacks for parents with dependents

You can build your retirement savings while supporting your dependants.

Providing for the kids doesn’t have to come at the expense of stashing funds for retirement. There are ways you can build a sufficient nest egg while supporting your children.  And chances are, you’ll be spending a lot longer in retirement than previous generations… who knew?

Saving for retirement

Forced saving can be your best ally in building your retirement fund. Making voluntary contributions to your super through salary sacrifice can seriously boost your nest egg.  You can make concessional super contributions of up to $25,000 each financial year (which includes your employer’s super guarantee contributions.) The government will tax your salary-sacrificed contributions at 15% which may be much lower than your marginal tax rate.

It may also be worth looking at how and where your super fund invests your money. Choosing a different investment option may help you earn better returns and grow your super.  Do you know what your Investor Risk Profile is?  Conservative?  Balanced?  Aggressive?

Super can be a difficult subject to get your head around. Have a chat with your adviser about how you can boost your super by making voluntary contributions or changing your investment options. Your adviser can also knows about retirement saving options beyond super.

Protecting your income

While you’re building your fund for retirement and still supporting those eating you out of house and home, it’s important to protect your current income in case you’re unable to work due to an illness or injury. Taking out income protection insurance is an incredibly wise precaution against any event that can prevent you from working. This policy may provide a monthly income to support you and your family during your recovery and help you stay on track with your financial commitments.  Premiums are tax deductible.  And if you think about it, why wouldn’t you insure your most important asset? – the ability to earn an income!

It’s also crucial to ensure your dependants are looked after if you die or became seriously ill or disabled. Having life insurance, total and permanent disability cover, and trauma insurance can help you protect what’s important to you.

Get advice

Balancing your need to prepare for retirement and your responsibility to your partner and kids can be tough, but keep in mind that help is always available. Speak to your adviser about how you can provide for your dependants while building a nest egg for a comfortable retirement.

Your future self will thank you for it!

Get Retirement Ready!

Planning is key… and so is getting advice!

Avoiding pinching pennies in retirement because you haven’t saved enough means serious planning.

First, figure out how much you’ll need!

Find out how much income you will need by answering a few simple questions:

  • What are your personal retirement goals?  Do they include climbing mountains, lawn bowls, sky-diving or spoiling the grand kids?
  • What kind of lifestyle do you want?  Are you quite frugal or want to live it up?
  • What is your life expectancy?  Do you have good genes and are likely to outlast your cronies?  Or have you lived a little harder than most and might not see the great-grand kids arrive?

While it’s relatively easy to set goals and have some lifestyle expectations for retirement, estimating how long you’ll live can be tricky, but is crucial to your retirement decisions. It can help decide your own asset allocation or when to stop working to ensure you have enough funds for your retirement.

Although there are tools and calculators you can use for working out life expectancy, your financial adviser can help guide you through the process too. Your adviser can also help you come up with an estimate of your required retirement income based on your lifestyle expectations, risk profile and life expectancy.

Second, ensure you’ll have enough income!

With an estimate of how much you’ll personally need, your adviser can make recommendations to help you meet your required retirement income. These strategies may include transition to retirement or contribution strategies, growing your retirement fund by investing some or all of it or even growing wealth outside of superannuation.

Most investment products carry some sort of risk, so it’s important to choose ones that suit your risk appetite and need for returns.

If you want a regular flow of income in your retirement, there are options available for you, as well as ensuring you won’t outlive your funds.

Always seek professional advice and how you can get appropriate outcomes for you.  And of course, I’d love to help!

Women & Superannuation

I’ve met plenty of people skeptical about our superannuation system over my years as a planner and I get it.  Believe me, I have to devote hours ever year to keeping up with the annual federal budget, managing legislative changes and getting my head around constantly changing tax and super laws.  It can be a drag!

It’s also true that we retire with about half the retirement savings of most men, and some women retire with no super at all!  But the reality is this, women live longer than men, making it even more essential that they accumulate enough superannuation to last them through retirement.

Having said that, women also face unique challenges when it comes to putting away retirement savings. Chances are, you’re still on lower pay than your male counterparts, you’ll take more time out of the workforce to raise the kids or care for your parents, and for those running a single-parent household, it can make it even more challenging to build a reasonable amount of super savings.

However, there are some simple strategies make it possible for women to overcome some of these hurdles, or make them less of an issue anyway…

Try and remember, that superannuation is actually your friend.  It is a very tax-effective way to save retirement. Your super fund pays a low rate of tax on contributions and investment earnings while growing your nest egg.  From age 60, you can withdraw your super tax-free.

Without any superannuation savings, many women are forced to rely solely on the age pension in their senior years.  Remember, the pension is designed as a safety net and won’t provide at all for a comfortable old age.  I’m not sure I could go back to a lifestyle that’s funded on around $23,000 per annum and you probably don’t want to either!

Firstly, don’t let your super funds get ‘lost.’  Try and ensure your funds are consolidated – this can help save on fees, but make sure you’re not losing valuable insurance coverage when doing so.  When possible, try to put extra away into super.  The ATO and website MyGov are making it easier than ever now to stay on top of your funds.

Affording an extra $20 – $50 per week now may not take food off the table but the additional money, plus years of compound interest will add up, and after all, your investing in your future self.  Sounds like a win to me!

Understand your fund and make sure your employer is putting your full entitlements in regularly on your behalf.  At the time of writing, this was 9.5% of your gross wage. Mostly now, we have super choice meaning that we’re able to choose the fund we want, and then check where your money is invested within the fund.  Is it in line with your investment profile?

To grow your fund, you’re often able to make pre-tax contributions (Salary Sacrifice) or even post-tax contributions where no tax is charged.  Depending on your circumstances, your partner may also be able to make contributions on your behalf and receive a tax offset for their efforts.

However you go about it, remember that you’re investing in your future and that superannuation is your money.  It certainly pays to be savvy with your super!  Sitting down with your financial adviser may reveal new and innovative ways you can make the most of your retirement savings!