How do I change my superannuation fund?
Yes, you can transfer money from overseas into your superannuation account – under certain conditions. First, you must provide your tax file number to your fund. Second, if you are aged between 65 and 74, you must have worked at least 40 hours within 30 consecutive days in a financial year. (Australians under 65 aren’t subject to a work test; Australians aged 75 and over cannot receive contributions to their superannuation account.)
Money transferred from overseas will generally count to both your concessional contributions limit and your non-concessional contributions limit. You will have to pay income tax on the applicable fund earnings component of any money transferred from overseas. You might also be liable for excess contributions tax.
Four questions to ask yourself before taking out an SMSF include:
- Do I have enough superannuation to justify the higher set-up and running costs?
- Am I able to handle complicated compliance obligations?
- Am I willing to spend lots of time researching investment options?
- Do I have the skill to make big financial decisions?
It’s also worth remembering that ordinary superannuation funds usually offer discounted life insurance and disability insurance. These discounts would no longer be available if you decided to manage your own super.
Before you create a superannuation account, you’ll need to check if you’re allowed to choose your own fund. Most Australians can, but this option doesn’t apply to some workers who are covered by industrial agreements or who are members of defined benefits funds.
Assuming you are able to choose your own fund, the next step should be research, because there are more than 200 different superannuation funds in Australia.
Once you’ve decided on your preferred superannuation fund, head to that provider’s website, where you should be able to fill in an online application or download the appropriate forms. You’ll need your tax file number (assuming you don’t want to be charged a higher tax rate), your contact details and your employer’s details (if you’re employed).
The amount of superannuation you need to have at retirement is based on how much money you would expect to spend each week during your retirement. That, in turn, depends on whether you expect to lead a modest retirement or a comfortable retirement.
The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) estimates you would need the following amount per week:
Here is the superannuation balance you would need to fund that level of spending:
These figures come from the March 2017 edition of the ASFA Retirement Standard.
The reason people on modest lifestyles need so much less money is because they qualify for a far bigger age pension.
Here is how ASFA defines retirement lifestyles:
|Holidays||One annual holiday in Australia||One or two short breaks in Australia near where you live||Shorter breaks or day trips in your own city|
|Eating out||Regularly eat out at restaurants. Good range and quality of food||Infrequently eat out at restaurants. Cheaper and less food||Only club special meals or inexpensive takeaway|
|Car||Owning a reasonable car||Owning an older, less reliable car||No car – or, if you do, a struggle to afford the upkeep|
|Alcohol||Bottled wine||Casked wine||Homebrew beer or no alcohol|
|Clothing||Good clothes||Reasonable clothes||Basic clothes|
|Hair||Regular haircuts at a good hairdresser||Regular haircuts at a basic salon||Less frequent haircuts or getting a friend to do it|
|Leisure||A range of regular leisure activities||One paid leisure activity, infrequently||Free or low-cost leisure activities|
|Electronics||A range of electronic equipment||Not much scope to run an air conditioner||Less heating in winter|
|Maintenance||Replace kitchen and bathroom over 20 years||No budget for home improvements. Can do repairs, but can’t replace kitchen or bathroom||No budget to fix home problems like a leaky roof|
|Insurance||Private health insurance||Private health insurance||No private health insurance|
You can keep your superannuation fund for as long as you like, so nothing happens when you change jobs. Please note that some superannuation funds have special features for people who work with certain employers, so these features may no longer be available if you change jobs.
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