Super check-up: five steps to make sure your super is healthy
You might not be able to get your hands on your super until you retire - which may be a long way off for some - but that doesn't mean you shouldn't pay close attention to what is happening to your savings now.
Here are the steps you should be taking to make sure you keep your superannuation safe and growing into a valuable nest egg when it's time to retire.
Know where your super is
Hands up if you have had more than one job or have moved house and forgotten to tell your super fund!
There's a chance you might be one of the 5.7 million Aussies with a lost super account.
There was around $14 billion worth of lost superannuation at June 30, 2016.
To find out if some of that money might be yours is actually fairly simple. You'll need a myGov account that is linked to the tax office. You can click on the ATO section and go to the "super" tab. There you will see details of all your super accounts, including any you have forgotten about.
If you do find lost super it might be a good idea to consolidate it into one account. This way not only will you be charged one set of fees, there will be less paperwork, making it easier to monitor your investments.
Check whether your fund will charge you an exit fee or other penalties for moving your benefits. Check your insurance options within your fund so that you don't end up losing a benefit that you need for your particular circumstances, says the SuperGuru website. Make sure that you can transfer or replace any insurance that you had in your previous fund before closing the account, it says.
Check if your employer is paying your super
Your employer is required to pay 9.5% of your salary into your super account at least quarterly but lots of Australians are affected by superannuation guarantee (SG) non-compliance, where an employer is not paying the mandatory contribution.
You may not have to wait until you get your super statement to check. You can generally log into your account online or via an app if yoursuper fund has one to check that your employer is paying super.
You may also be able to check using your myGov account, which will show you how much has been paid into your fund.
If you have any doubts your first port of call should be your employer. Ask them how much they have been paying and what account details they have on file.
If you still believe your employer isn't paying enough (or any) super - or isn't paying the super to your chosen fund - you can lodge an inquiry with the Tax Office.
Take a good look at your statement
When you get your superannuation statement don't just toss it aside or file it without taking a proper look. Here are some of the areas you should be paying close attention to, according to MoneySmart:
Make sure your address and contact details are correct so your money doesn't end up in lost super.
Does the amount look about right, taking into account your starting balance, employer contributions, investment returns and fees? If something seems amiss, contact your super fund and ask it to explain.
Make sure you received all your employer contributions. Employers only have to transfer super contributions quarterly; however, they may choose to pay super more frequently.
If you've made personal contributions, either directly or through a payroll deduction, make sure they have been received by your super fund. If you are concerned about unpaid superannuation contributions, see the ATO's information on unpaid super.
Do they look reasonable? Are they what you expected?
Insurance is not a fee; it is a premium for personal cover. Insurance through super can be a cost- effective way of making sure you and your family will be alright financially if something goes wrong. Make sure you have the cover you want and are not paying for something you don't need.
Employer and salary sacrifice contributions are taxed at 15%. Investment returns are taxed at a maximum of 15%. If you are paying a higher rate of tax than this your super fund may not have your tax file number. Check with your fund and provide any details it needs.
Give your super a regular check-up
When you get your statement it's a good time to review your fund and make sure it is still the right option for you.
How do the fees compare with those of similar funds and how has the fund performed?
Make sure you focus on longer-term returns of at least five years when comparing a fund's performance.
Also is your investment strategy doing what you expect it to and does the strategy still suit you based on your stage in life and your goals?
Keep good records
Organise all of your statements in a filing system so you know exactly where to look and you'll have all the relevant information readily on hand.
"Like your bank statements, superannuation records can be used to commit identity theft if they fall into the wrong hands," says SuperGuru. "Always keep your statements in a safe place or, if disposing of them, tear them up and don't leave them somewhere visible where they can easily be picked up."
You should also make sure you keep track of any contributions you make into your super fund - both before and after tax - to make sure you don't go over the caps and are penalised.
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