Sometimes the best tips and insights can come from those who have 'been there and done that'!
We asked some of our retired members to share the best piece of advice they ever received about planning for the future:
"I witnessed my parents and my friend’s parents reaching retirement without enough super savings and saw first-hand the impact this had on their lives. It was a real wake up call for me to take action now to ensure history doesn’t repeat itself.
Ever since then I’ve added extra to my super via salary sacrifice. When I purchased a house I lowered the salary sacrifice amount to assist with the purchase. But I was committed to bringing this amount back up so now I increase my salary sacrifice each year in line with salary increases."
“For quite a few years, I’d get my annual statements from more than 5 different super funds, and most of the time I’d toss them out. But I gradually started to notice the amount of fees that were being taken out of my money by each separate fund—I was losing hundreds of dollars of my retirement savings in fees each year!
I had been thinking about moving my super to just one fund for quite a while, not only to save on fees but to make it easier for me to keep track of my savings. But it was one of those things I kept putting off.
In fact, it didn’t take long at all once I made the decision to do it. So now everything’s in one place and I’m not paying 5 lots of fees! That means more money for me in retirement, and peace of mind.”
“After 25 years in the banking industry, with several organisations and contracting work in between, I had accumulated 7 different super accounts, including a few with small balances where any returns I was earning were cancelled out by the account fees.
I’d wanted to consolidate everything to one super account for quite a while – I had even set myself a reminder task in my Outlook calendar. I had made a start a couple of times, but it just didn’t seem like a high priority. When I was getting some paperwork in order before a recent holiday and saw all the accounts listed in one spot, I decided it was time to act (plus I had hit ‘snooze’ on my Outlook task reminder so many times it was now 89 weeks overdue!).
In the end, it took less time and effort than I had thought, and it’s a load off my mind to know that I’m now getting the benefits of having my super in one spot.”
“It’s like those old stories that builders often have their own unfinished renovations or plumbers not getting around to fixing leaky taps in their own houses. We often spend our work days helping customers improve their financial situations but often don’t find the time to improve our own situations!
I knew I had more than 5 different super accounts but I just hadn’t got around to moving them all into one account. When one of the campaigns for the contact centre where I work was calling customers about the benefits of consolidating their super, I thought it was time I took my own advice. So during some time off work, I made sure I put some time aside to complete the rollover forms and send them off.
A few of my previous accounts were small balances in eligible rollover funds. So not only is it nice to know that my super’s now in one place, I also have more flexibility to choose investment options that are better suited to me.”
“With my super spread across 9 different funds, I had been watching fees slowly whittling away my retirement savings over many years.
A while ago, the ATO called me about several accounts that I had with really small balances. This contact sparked me to gain more control over my super. I was losing hundreds of dollars in expensive fees and multiple insurance coverage costs and this was motivation to consolidate.
Although it did take me a couple more months to take action and consolidate my other accounts into the fund, it was rewarding to see the consolidated new balance in my statement and I look forward to watching it grow.”
"I recently opened an account as my wife works for the Commonwealth Bank. One of the key things that attracted me to this fund was the low fees. My employer contributions go into the account and I like the fact that the money is staying in my super fund building my retirement and not being spent on high fees."
“Since I'm now officially in my late 30s I thought checking in on my super was long overdue but I didn't know where to begin. I had heard about the 5-minute workout and decided that was a good place to start. I entered in my details – age, salary and current super balance – and it estimated how long my super would last and compared it to how much I would need each year when I retired.
The calculator provided a very visual explanation on how I was tracking. It also highlighted that I needed to start adding extra money to my super now, otherwise I'd be working until I'm 80!
I'm relieved that I took the time to check in on my super now rather than later as I can see how a small change now can really add up over the next 20 to 30 years.”
“I recently changed roles and it resulted in an increase to my salary. I thought before I start spending the extra money each fortnight, I’d put a proportion of it straight into my super – that way I wouldn’t really miss it. Otherwise as soon as I receive any extra money I always find a new home for it and then I find it’s harder to put away later.
Adding extra to my super was very important to me as I’d previously had two breaks from work on maternity leave and therefore had a bit of a gap with my super contributions. I thought this would be a great way to close the gap.”
“I’ve always contributed to my super since I was 16 years old, but I wished I had made additional contributions over the years. I wanted to retire when I was 60 but didn’t have enough to last me for my entire retirement so I now have to work longer than I anticipated. I will now be retiring at about 62. This isn’t ideal as it can take a toll on your health the older you get.
My advice to people who are thinking about their retirement future: you have to find as much money as you can and contribute; whatever you can afford, put it in super now.
You can’t just rely upon the set amount from your employer – it will not be enough, unless you’re happy to work till you're 70!”
“I’m happy with what I’ve done. Transition to retirement and reducing work hours were the right decisions for me, so I could scale back and start building up relationships outside of work. It wasn’t such a shock when I fully retired.
I was 58 when I retired but I started thinking about it at around 54. I wanted to maintain my lifestyle in retirement so I salary sacrificed in the lead up to retirement; I wish I had done it sooner.”
“Being a financial adviser, I always kept a close eye on how my super was performing over the years. We also took advantage of the tax incentives and I started making spouse contributions for my wife. This had a big impact over the years and has increased our retirement savings.
Taking these additional steps in the lead up has allowed us to enjoy our retirement. It’s given us the flexibility to be able to help our children financially and we’ve also been able to take our yearly holiday.
One piece of advice I’d give is not to be under the impression that your expenses will decrease when you retire. Ours haven’t, especially if you want to take that yearly holiday and do the things you’ve hoped to do in your retirement!”