Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Being super smart

This is a good story. It is also a sponsored post. 
A sponsored post that is not selling you anything, just reminding you to get your affairs in order. Is also talks about cheese. And sheep poo.

My first ever real paying job was at the Meredith Sheep Dairy. You may have eaten the cheese or other dairy delights that they make. When they first started things were run on a much smaller scale, the husband and wife team who owned the business did pretty much everything for the whole business. Sheep were milked twice a day and it was my job to input into the database how much milk each sheepie baa produced each day.  I would be given scrap bits of paper covered in baa poo and spilt milk and sit at the database (this was 1990, no excel was being used) and put in the information. I did this for the school summer holidays.

Easy work, paid well and I thought I was the richest 15 year old that ever walked this earth.

I had money to burn and my wardrobe finally took a turn for the better. I headed straight to Portmans and Sportsgirl and spent the lot.

Fast forward about seven years and I had my first real job out of uni. A graduate position with a finance company and I was so excited. I was thrilled to have landed this job.

That excitement lasted about 4.2 hours.

I was placed with 15 other grads in the superannuation department.

OMFG – the most boring place in the universe.

We had to clock on and off, I felt like Fred Flintstone when the dinosaur bites his card.

The work was filled with people, even worse – old people, like the type that went to over 28 nights – calling and asking how much they should be putting in to super, or could they have information on rollovers and product classes. Which funds were making the best returns and why the heck was the one they were in not making decent cashola?

I had to learn fast about employer contributions and personal ones, about preserved, restricted and tax free components. Yawn.

I got out of that job and into the marketing department as fast as my Bobby Magee* legs could carry me. Phew, I had escaped the clutches of superannuation forever.

Except that Super just keeps hanging around doesn’t it.

Every six months you get that letter to tell you how much you don’t have in super. 

You get letters from the lost super office asking you to call them. I did this twice last year, the first account had a grand total of $5.45 in it and the second one had a whopping $0.05 – clearly the interest from an old closed account!

But I am lucky, I understand superannuation reasonably well and I worked for finance companies that paid higher super than many others and also matched employee contributions if you added more yourself, then ten years after I left the Meredith baa poo shed behind I was tracked down with more lost super, a substantial amount for the little work I had done, which will be compounding away for fifty years in total.

I have also been a tad stupid and while travelling overseas, when my funds got low I rang and took all my unrestricted and non-preserved money out of my account.  Silly, but too late to change it, and hey, I did a have a great time.

I was also really pleased when the Super laws were changed so that I could choose the super fund I wanted to be in. I selected Australian Super and have always been happy with them, now that I am working for a health provider I don’t get the choice and I found this really annoying. Staying with the one super fund no matter who you work for makes things so much easier. I am no longer with Australian Super simply because I don't get the choice.

But the hardest parts of Superannuation are:

1) Making the decision to sacrifice money now to benefit you later


2) Knowing how much you are going to need when you do retire.

Australian Super have a very simple tool designed to let you see how you are tracking. 

It is free to use the Australian Super ‘Super Health Check

Just four easy steps and it will suggest to you how you are travelling along for retirement. 

What you choose to do with that information is up to you. My advice is to remember the magic of compound interest and if time is on your side then adding a few dollars just by giving up a coffee a week, a magazine (or a jar of Meredith Dairy marinated fetta) will make an enormous difference.

It has always annoyed me that men tend to have so much more superannuation than women. It annoys me that while you are on maternity leave your super contributions stop and if you work part time after having children, well your super suffers again. There isn’t much I can suggest for this, but look out for government schemes that reward low income earners for making contributions. When I was on maternity leave with both the girls we managed to put in $1000 to my super account, this was matched by the government (because I was in the ‘broke as a church mouse’ demographic) which allowed $2000 to go into my super, which while isn’t heaps, it will be invested for 30 years. Doing that for both girls is $4000, and using a compound interest calculator with, at a rate of 5% for 30 years, that will turn into just under $18,000.

Australian Super have been keeping up the stats from the Super Health Checks and it seems that only 52% of woman even know how much super they have.

Don’t let superannuation be in the too hard basket, the pile of papers that you never get around to.

Add: do a ‘Super Health Check” to your to do list today. 

How super is your super?

* Only Melbourne people of a certain age will understand this comment (think two for one pints of vodkas people, but only from 5 – 9 pm on Thursday)


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  2. Yes, maybe a few less drinkies in bath tub/toilet shaped mugs with umbrellas in them back in the 90s and I'd have more moula in my super today ;-)

    1. Drinks with umbrella's should never be limited! In fact I think my life is lacking due to the limitation of such drinks in the last few years!!

  3. my super is abysmal. Too many years off to have kids, and then only working part time.

    But I have decided, instead of starting my diet on that mythical Monday, I will start it the day I retire.

    I wont have a choice!

    1. This is the problem with Super...only people that have the benefit of working all their lives get it. This cuts thousands of women off the list who are most likely to out live all the men. Not sure what the answer is, but it needs a working group, a brainstorming session and a big mother of a white board to start getting some resolutions.

  4. I think this is such a great post. Hubby and I have been talking about what to do with it "all". Turns out that buying old houses and then doing them up has done better than our super. So we're sorted ;)


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