The idea behind super is pretty simple – it’s to ensure you have enough money saved for when you retire from work. Yes, we know your retirement is yonks away but the decisions you make now with your super will impact when you’re able to retire, and the type of lifestyle you can enjoy in retirement.
How it works
Once you get a job your employer will start putting aside a part of your salary to go into superannuation, which is a little like savings for your retirement. The more you save, the more money you’ll have in retirement.
Your employer takes a percentage of your wage on your behalf (it’s usually around 10%), and places it into what’s called a ‘super fund’. This amount of money might not seem like much, but over your entire working life, it adds up.
So what is a super fund?
Your super fund is an organisation that holds the money your employer puts aside for you. Each super fund is different. They tend to specialise in different industries. But the aim of each one is the same – to grow your super over time and they do this by investing in businesses that make money. Without getting bogged down in all the nitty-gritty, you can choose the way you’d like you super fund to invest your super. For this stuff though, it’s a good idea to talk with a financial expert from your super fund, or a Financial Adviser, or start by talking to a parent or trusted adult.
This is the real magic of superannuation is that it keeps growing and growing and growing – right up until the day you retire.
You can chose to kick in more money
If you want to have more money when you retire, you can choose to make ‘voluntary contributions’. For example, you might decide to do what’s called ‘salary sacrifice’. This is an agreement you can enter into with your employer to top up your super (but there are limits to how much extra you can kick in every year). So depending on your contributions, and the super fund you choose, you could end up with hundreds of thousands of dollars in super when you retire. And that’s super exciting!
Managing your super
Your superannuation is YOUR money, not anyone else’s. This means you can decide on your super fund (and there’s over 500 to choose from). Or you can stick with your employer’s preferred super fund. Again, it’s your choice. So don’t be afraid to ask questions: What are you entitled to? What does your employer need to pay? Are there any limits that may apply? What are the fees and charges with your current super fund? What happens if you decide to change jobs? How do I go about changing my super fund? And so on.
Find out more
You’ll find heaps of useful info about super on the Australian Taxation Office website.