We can't predict the future... but we can prepare for it
What is KiwiSaver?
KiwiSaver is a voluntary savings initiative designed to help New Zealanders save towards their Retirement. KiwiSaver was commissioned by the Government in 2007. There are some substantial inducements to encourage people to join KiwiSaver.
- An individual can choose to contribute either 3%, 4%, 6%, 8% or 10% of your gross (before tax) wages or salary to your KiwiSaver Scheme.
- Additionally, your Employer has to make contributions as well, with a minimum contribution of 3% of your gross wages or salary. If you are employed and 18 or over and contributing to KiwiSaver from your salary or wages, your employer is required to contribute 3% of your gross salary or wages (unless your employer is already contributing to an alternative NZ Super scheme on your behalf).
- Together with the employer contribution to KiwiSaver, the Government also make a contribution as well. For every $1 you contribute, the Government will contribute 50c (up to $521 per year) for members who are aged 18 and over, living in New Zealand, and not yet eligible to withdraw for retirement.
Your savings are invested on your behalf by the KiwiSaver provider of your choice. If you don’t personally choose a KiwiSaver provider, then the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) will automatically assign you to one of the 9 default KiwiSaver Schemes.
Who can join KiwiSaver?
To be able to join KiwiSaver you don’t have to be Employed and its not compulsory, but you do have to be either:
- A New Zealand citizen, or entitled to live in New Zealand permanently .
- Living or normally living in New Zealand.
It’s an easy and very affordable way to save and invest for our retirement years. Most of us can benefit from joining KiwiSaver, if we haven’t already. Here’s how KiwiSaver works and what the main features are.
When and how can I gain access to my KiwiSaver Funds?
– There are 4 ways:
1. Normal Retirement Date
When you reach the age of 65. If you joined KiwiSaver (or a complying fund) before 1 July 2019, a 5 year minimum membership requirement applies if you were aged 60 or over when you joined. Once you’ve reached the age of 65 you can opt out of this requirement and make a partial or full withdrawal, however if you do so you will forego your entitlement to the Government contribution and compulsory employer contributions.
2. First Home Buyer Withdrawal
After being a member of KiwiSaver for three years you can apply to withdraw all or part of your KiwiSaver savings (however you must leave a minimum balance of $1,000 plus any amount transferred from an Australian superannuation fund in your KiwiSaver account) and use it towards the purchase price of your first home.
Are you eligible? – You are eligible for a first home withdrawal if you:
- have been a KiwiSaver member for at least three years;
- have not made a withdrawal from your KiwiSaver account for the purchase of a home before;
- intend to live in the property (for at least 6 to 12 months); and
- are buying your first home (or have confirmation from Housing NZ that you are eligible to apply for a second home purchase).
- If you have owned a property or land before and your financial position is considered the same as a first home buyer you may be able to apply to Housing New Zealand to be considered for a withdrawal as a ‘second chance’ home buyer. Visit Housing New Zealand’s website for more information.
3. Significant Financial Hardship
If you are suffering or likely to suffer from significant financial hardship you can apply to withdraw some of your savings. Significant Financial Hardship is defined in the KiwiSaver Act as significant financial difficulties that arise because of:
- a individual’s inability to meet minimum living expenses
- an individual’s inability to meet mortgage repayments on his or her principal family residence resulting in the mortgagee seeking to enforce them mortgage on the residence
- the cost of modifying a residence to meet special needs arising from a disability of a individual or individual’s dependent
- the cost of medical treatment for an illness or injury of an individual or an individual’s dependent
- the cost of palliative care for an individual’s or a member’s dependent or the cost of a funeral for an individual’s dependent; or the individual’s suffering from a serious illness.
4. Serious Illness
Serious illness is defined in the KiwiSaver Act as meaning an injury, illness or disability that:
- results in the member being totally and permanently unable to engage in work for which he or she is suited by reason of experience, or training, or any combination of those things; or
- poses a serious and imminent risk of death.
Why using an impartial and qualified Financial Adviser is so valuable:
When it comes to financial advice, it pays to get it right. Seeking impartial qualified financial advice is a great way to keep on top of your KiwiSaver savings plan, particularly if you are thinking about changing KiwiSaver providers. For most people the best way to sort their finances is by using a qualified Financial Adviser. A impartial Financial Adviser can help you long term, not just today or tomorrow.
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