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Super is a tax-effective long-term savings plan that enables you to save money for your retirement.

While you are working, your employer is required to contribute at least 9.5%* of your annual salary to your super account each year (known as compulsory super or Super Guarantee). You can also contribute money yourself, and so can your spouse, and sometimes even the Federal Government.

Your super fund invests the money in various assets such as cash, property, shares and fixed interest, depending on the risk profile you choose. The earnings you receive each year are reinvested, building the value of your account throughout your working life.

To pay for the cost of looking after your Super, fees come out of your account. Tax is also deducted on contributions and earnings, and if you have insurance through your super, your premium will be paid using your super money.

When you reach your preservation age and retire, which is typically between 55 and 65 years of age, you can access your super savings.

*Australian Taxation Office, 1 July 2014

Building your Super

Some people think that because their employer is already contributing to their super, they don’t have to worry about it. However, the 9.25% employer contribution alone may not be enough to provide you with the retirement lifestyle you desire.

The good news is, with the right information and some simple strategies, a comfortable retirement can be easily achieved.

Let’s take a look at some techniques to build your super.

Uncover your hidden wealth

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The Australian Government has estimated that one out of every two working Australians has ‘lost super’. If you’ve changed jobs or addresses, or even your name, you could be one of the millions of Australians who has lost track of their super.Find and reclaim what is rightfully yours by searching for your lost super using the ATO’s Super Seeker. Start your free search today by visiting www.ato.gov.au/superseeker.Once you have located your lost super, you can consolidate it all into one account to avoid excess fees and keep track of your savings.

Lost super accounts in Australia are collectively worth more than $14 Billion*

*Australian Taxation Office, 1 June 2014

Enough Super for the lifestyle you deserve

Your retirement may be a distant thought or it may be just around the corner. Either way, it’s important to know you’ll be able to afford the lifestyle you want and deserve in retirement.While your employer is required to contribute at least 9.5% of your annual salary to super, around 30% of working Australians are still not saving enough to achieve a comfortable retirement. This is because we are living longer and the cost of living is increasing.A ‘comfortable’ retirement lifestyle requires approximately $42,861 annually for a single person and $58,784 for a couple*

*ASFA Retirement Standard, June Quarter 2015.

The importance of financial advice

A financial adviser can help you assess your current financial position and work out whether your super is in good shape to provide you with the lifestyle you deserve in retirement. Knowing what your goals are and what you need to do to achieve them puts you in a better position to make the choices that will be right for you tomorrow.Advisers also have access to research, information and experience to help you create a unique plan that fits your goals.

Super and your estate

Super benefits don’t automatically form part of your estate so it’s important to think about who would receive your super if you passed away. Nominating a beneficiary is one way to plan how your super, and the proceeds of any life insurance you hold in super, will be distributed.Here are some ways super can play a part in your estate:Provide funds for your surviving spouse and/or children – Holding insurance in your super can help ensure your family has enough funds to survive comfortably without you.

Equalise your estate – You can use your super to ensure all your beneficiaries are treated fairly by equalising your estate. This is especially relevant for people who want to leave their business to one child but don’t want to disadvantage the others.

Government co-contribution scheme

If you’re eligible and your total income is less than $50,454 in the 2015/2016 financial year, the Government will contribute up to $0.50 for each $1 of personal after-tax contributions you make to your super. This could mean up to an extra $500 into your super account – a significant incentive to contribute to your super.How does it work?The co-contribution amount depends on the amount of after-tax contributions you make by 30 June 2016.

You may be eligible for the government co-contribution if you answer yes to all of the following:

  • You made one or more eligible personal super contribution to your super account during the financial year.
  • You are under 71 years of age at the end of the financial year.
  • Your total income for the financial year is less than the higher income threshold ($50,454 for 2015-16).
  • 10% or more of your total income comes from eligible employment-related activities or carrying on a business, or a combination of both.
  • You lodge an income tax return for the relevant financial year.
  • You did not hold a temporary visa at any time during the financial year (unless you are a New Zealand citizen or it was a prescribed visa).
  • Source: Australian Taxation Office, 26 November 2015