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5 ways to turbo charge your super

Composite image of an older couple laughing and enjoying super and Australian money.
It's worth taking the time with super now to ensure a happy retirement. (Source: Getty)

A recent media story suggested you could retire with only $88,000 in super but I want to warn you to ignore this news and try to build up your super as best you can.

The story rightly explained that you could combine a small super balance with the aged pension and put together a reasonable amount of income to live on, but let me explain why I suggest you try for more.

Also by Peter Switzer:

Let’s say you own your home and have $88,000 in super, and your super fund returns, on average, 7 per cent, which is a good return but not always achievable.

This would mean you could expect about 7 per cent of $88,000 on average from your super pension account. Let’s call it $90,000 and 7 per cent of that is $6,300 a year.

Now, let’s add to that the full aged pension of $25,678 a year. You’re now living on about $32,000 a year. There can be some other payments but let’s round it off at $35,000.

To me, that’s 35,000 reasons to try to get your super up a lot higher.

In March 2022, the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) said individuals and couples who owned their own home, were around the age of 67 and were looking to retire today, would need an annual budget of around $46,494 or $65,445 respectively to fund a comfortable lifestyle2. That’s assuming they owned their own home.

If you were a couple with super of $400,000 and you had $19,000 worth of other assets, you could still get the full pension - $25,678.

And if your super fund averaged a return of 5 per cent a year on $400,000, you’d be getting $20,000 from your fund. That would give you $45,678.

This is less than ASFA’s $65,445 a year for a comfortable couple lifestyle.

That’s why I say try to get that super up as high as you can.

So, how can you turbo charge your super? Try these government-assisted strategies:

Salary sacrifice

Get your paymaster to throw some of your pay into super over and above what your boss puts into your compulsory super, which is 10.5 per cent.

If you’re on $100,000, that’s $10,500 going into super. You can put an extra $16,500 in, which will be taxed at 15 per cent rather than your higher tax rate on your pay.

Tax deductible contribution

If your boss doesn’t do salary sacrifice, you can simply make a tax-deductible contribution to your super fund - up to $27,000.

However, that includes what your boss puts in for compulsory super so be mindful of that.

Co-contribution

If your total income was equal to or less than $42,016 in the 2022/23 financial year and you made after-tax contributions of $1,000 to your super fund, you’d receive a maximum co-contribution of $500.

If your total income was between $42,016 and $57,016 in the 2022/23 financial year, your maximum entitlement would reduce progressively as your income rose.

Spouse contributions

If eligible, you could generally make a contribution to your spouse’s fund and claim an 18 per cent tax offset - up to $3,000 - through your tax return.

To be eligible for the maximum tax offset - $540 - you would need to contribute a minimum of $3,000 and your partner’s annual income would need to be $37,000 or less.

If their income exceeded $37,000, you’d still be eligible for a partial offset.

However, once their income reached $40,000, you’d no longer be eligible for any offset, but could still make contributions on their behalf.

The Low-Income Tax Offset

If you earned $37,000 or less annually, and your employer made super contributions on your behalf, the government may refund the tax that was paid on those contributions back into your super account, up to a maximum of $500 per year.

These are some neat government-assisted ways of getting that super to a level that should ensure a comfortable retirement.

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