Australia’s largest industry super fund has delivered the highest return over the past five years for balanced options.
SuperRatings found that AustralianSuper’s balanced option produced an average annual return of 9.55 per cent during the five years to 30 September 2019 (see table below).
If you invested $100 today and earned a 9.55 per cent annual return, your investment would grow to $161 after five years, according to ASIC’s compound interest calculator.
Average annual return
Data covers the five years to 30 September 2019 and refers only to balanced options.
How much super do you need to save?
One of the big questions people ask themselves with superannuation is how much they need to retire.
The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) publishes a quarterly estimate of how much money retirees can expect to spend each year, depending on their age and lifestyle. The figures at the end of June 2019 were:
Aged about 65
Aged about 85
Modest lifestyle – single
Modest lifestyle – couple
Comfortable lifestyle – single
Comfortable lifestyle – couple
However, the Grattan Institute, a think tank, argued in a November 2018 report that many Australians need less money in retirement than they believe.
“The conventional wisdom that Australians don’t save enough for retirement is wrong,” according to the Grattan Institute. “The vast majority of retirees today and in future are likely to be financially comfortable.”
How to increase your super
Regardless of whether you believe ASFA or the Grattan Institute, we’d all like our nest egg to be larger rather than smaller.
With that in mind, here are six ideas to boost your retirement savings:
- Increase your income
The more you earn, the more superannuation you accumulate.
Of course, increasing your income is easier said than done. Some options might be to ask for a raise, look for a higher-paying job, do more overtime or get a side hustle.
- Grab your lost super
A surprisingly large number of Australians have superannuation accounts they’ve forgotten about. It’s easy to check if you have any lost super accounts:
- Register for MyGov
- Link your MyGov account to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO)
- Visit the ATO portal
- Click the ‘Super’ tab to see details of all your accounts (including any you might have forgotten about)
You can then transfer any extra super into your main account and close any extra accounts. That way, you’ll be paying only one set of fees.
- Do salary-sacrificing
You can also salary sacrifice, which means asking your employer to pay some of your pre-tax salary into your superannuation, in addition to the compulsory 9.5 per cent superannuation guarantee your employer should be paying already.
That means you reduce your take-home pay but increase your retirement savings.
There’s a $25,000 annual limit on the amount of superannuation you’re allowed to receive from your compulsory super payments and any salary sacrifice payments. That means $25,000 combined, not $25,000 for each.
- Make non-concessional contributions
You can also make ‘non-concessional contributions’ (or after-tax contributions) to your superannuation.
This is limited to $100,000 per year.
- Get the government to top up your super
If you earn less than $53,564 per year, you’re eligible for the government co-contribution.
This means the government will put money on top of the first $1,000 of any non-concessional contributions you make each year.
Australians earning less than $38,564 will receive the maximum top-up of $500 if they make $1,000 of non-concessional contributions. The top-up then decreases on a sliding scale, down to $20 for those earning $53,564.
- Switch to a better superannuation fund
The first five tips were all about putting extra money in your superannuation; the final tip is about maximising the return from that money.
As a general rule, the best superannuation fund for most people will be one that delivers the highest net return – that is, the difference between the amount earned (through investing) and the amount lost (through fees).
When you can compare superannuation funds, it’s important to analyse a fund’s performance over the medium-term rather than the short-term. “Pick a fund that has performed well over the last five years – do not chase last year's best performer,” advises ASIC, Australia’s financial services regulator.