How to respect superannuation and set yourself up for life!


What always has me beat is how we Aussies love the idea of bricks and mortar but we’re so indifferent about our superannuation. Well, I think it’s high time there was a public movement to stop super suffering the Rodney Dangerfield syndrome. Dangerfield was famous for his line: “I get no respect,” so it’s time to show super some respect.

  1. Nest egg strategy

The penny dropped for me years ago when I saw a neat explanation about how saving early and often in one’s life can lead to a wonderful nest egg when you stop working.

The simple example said if you saved $2,000 a year between the ages of 21 and 30 and put it into a fund that returns 9% a year and you just let it roll over just like in super, the long-run returns would be literally super.

In fact, if someone stopped saving and became irresponsible from age 30, the lump sum would roll over to top half-a-million dollars! But get this, if the person remained responsible and kept saving, the bankroll would end up over $1 million.

And if they doubled their efforts, we’re talking more millions!

The powerful lesson is that regular saving with reasonably good rates of return with concessionary tax rates, just like super, combined with the magic of compound interest will produce a beautiful set of numbers upon retirement.

  1. Rule of 72

Using an equation called the rule of 72, you can see how compounding works. Imagine a 10% return which after tax ends up being 8% and someone leaves you $20,000 when you are age 20. Rather than wasting the money on a new car, you throw it into your super fund. What could this $20,000 grow into over 45 years of working and superannuation returns?

Take 72 and divide it by eight and you get nine and that means it takes nine years for the money to double in value. So that means five chances to double over 45 years and that will see $20,000 become $40,000 to $80,000 to $160,000 and finally $320,000.

There are 320,000 reasons for respecting super, compound interest and superannuation.

  1. Super stories

When we’re reading kids bedtime stories, we should occasionally throw in a magical tale about superannuation! Maybe the three little pigs should have different types of super sold by a ‘wolf’ of an adviser with the third little pig being the one who did his homework, who knew about his super and selected a trustworthy adviser. Maybe I’ve taken the idea too far but the point to be underlined is that the third little pig respected his super and ended up with a super return.

Tips to help you respect super

If this advice is starting to make you feel a bit uncomfortable, what follows are my recommendations for learning to respect your super.

    1. Make sure you know exactly the name of the fund and what they invest in.
    2. Make sure the profile of the fund matches your appetite for risk. If you are risk averse, make sure your fund matches you and understand what kinds of returns you should expect. Conservative funds return around 4% to 5% but are really safe. By notching the risk up a gear to a balanced fund you could be in the 7% to 10% return space but remember you can go up and down by the same ‘expected’ return.
    3. Find out exactly how much you are being charged by the fund.
    4. Do a cost and return comparison with other funds. Websites such as Super Ratings can help with those comparisons. Remember some funds will be more expensive but could have a good record of high returns but they would be more risky. Risk and reward is a trade-off.
    5. Don’t rule out setting up your own self-managed super fund (SMSF). I believe you have to have a well-organised personality and you have to want to be a hobbyist-fund manager. You become your own fund manager, which means you need to become market savvy, you have to follow the rules of a SMSF as set out by the tax office and you have to love the idea of doing it. Alternatively, you find a trusted adviser to help you do it. This all costs money and the more you have in super the more cost-effective an SMSF can be. Consensus says $300,000 is a wise starting point but I do know others who say smaller amounts can be effective, depending on what you invest in.
    6. Finally, learn to love and respect your super fund as it will either make or break your life in retirement. Life after work could last 20 to 30 years, so it shouldn’t be ignored.


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