If you want to have enough money to live a comfortable life in retirement, the bad news is that relying on your employer’s contributions alone is unlikely to see you reach that goal.
A report by the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) released in July 2019 that many people need to contribute over and above compulsory contributions to their superannuation to ensure they have adequate retirement savings.
This is especially important for women, whose super balances tend to be lower than men’s (although the report does say this gap has narrowed in recent times). This is partly because they are more likely to take time out of the workforce to have children or work part-time.
Finding a ‘big’ lump sum to top up your super can be hard – especially if you’re not working. The good news is even small amounts can make a difference
There are a few relatively pain-free ways that you may be able to use to help you boost your super. These include cashback sites that top up your super when you shop and others that add a percentage of your spending to your super.
1. Shop and get rewards paid into your super…
How does this sound? Every time you shop, whether you’re getting the groceries or buying shoes, you will get cash rewards paid into your super account. There are a few cashback sites that offer this service.
Super Rewards, which launched in October 2019, has partnered with about 300 retailers, including big names such as Woolworths, Apple, The Iconic and The Good Guys.
You will need to make your purchase online through the Super Rewards platform to earn your cash-back reward. The cashback amount for each retailer will be displayed on the Super Rewards platform.
There is a calculator on the Super Rewards website, which you can use to help estimate your potential rewards. Let’s say you spend about $844 a week on a variety of items but only do about 30% of your spending through Super Rewards – according to the calculator you could potentially earn $329 a year in super rewards (assuming an average cash back of 2.5%). Assuming your super fund returned 4% per annum, the calculator estimates that $329 annual contribution could be worth $18,461 in 30 years.
It is free to join but Super Rewards takes a percentage of each cash reward from the retailer – known as a referral commission. The amount you see on the dashboard is what you’ll get.
The service can be used by anyone between the ages of 18 and 65. Super Rewards states that it may also be available to people outside this age range, although certain restrictions may apply.
It’s also worth noting that it takes around 90 days from when you shop for the Super Rewards to be paid into your super.
Boost Your Super
Boost Your Super is a similar service to Shop Rewards. It has more than 480 retail partners including The Book Depository, eBay, Dan Murphy’s, ASOS and Catch.
When you visit a shop via Boost Your Super, it collects a referral commission if you buy anything from that store. It uses this commission to make a payment to your superannuation fund. You can also download a Google Chrome extension which will let you know if you can earn super from a participating retailer when you’re on their site.
Cash backs range from 1% to 10% but typically are around 3%, according to Boost Your Super. The website also has a calculator which you can estimate how much you may be able earn as cashback depending on your spending.
Any money you made from online shopping via the website will be paid into your super fund within 21 days of the end of each quarter.
2. Get a percentage of your spending added to your super…
There seems to be an app for everything these days – and there is even one that will help you invest small amounts of money to your super every time you spend – the Longevity app.
It works like this: Every time you make a purchase from a spending account linked to the app (such as a debit card or credit card), Longevity will take an additional percentage and accrue it to go into your super. You can choose the percentage you would like taken out, but the default is 1%. So let’s say you spend $200 on groceries then an extra $2 would get taken out of your account to go into your super.
The app’s default setting is to tally your top-ups daily and deduct the total accrued from your account to go into your super fund at the end of the month, as long as you’ve accrued the minimum amount. The default is set at $20 but you can increase it ($20 is the minimum though).
If you prefer, though, you can ask for top-ups to your super whenever you reach a dollar amount (say $20 or $50) rather than waiting for the end of each month.
The app is available for most super funds, so you likely won’t have to switch funds to use it. However, it is currently not an option if you have an SMSF.
There is a monthly service fee of $1.99, or you can take out an annual subscription for $19.95. You can try it out for free for 30 days to see how it works and decide whether it’s right for you.
Intrust Super and Grow Super also offer a ’roundup’ feature to their members. Intrust offers the service through its SuperCents app, which costs $1.10 a month.
3. There are some funds that incorporate these spend and save features
FairVine Super is one example. It’s a new fund on the block that offers its members cashback rewards and the option to ’round up’ purchases to top up their super.
One of its features is ‘FairRewards’,, which is similar to Super Rewards and Boost Your Super mentioned earlier. Members shopping through the FairRewards portal may get between 2% and 20% of their spend rewarded back to their super account. FairRewards currently has around 400 retail partners, including The Iconic, Menulog, , Microsoft and Hello Fresh.
‘RoundUps’ is another option available to FairVine’s members. You can link your bank accounts and/or credit cards to automatically round-up your day-to-day spending to the nearest dollar, and put the difference straight into your super account.
Members can only choose between two investment options at the time of writing – balanced and growth – and investments are ethically screened. FairVine charges a fee of 0.95% of your balance per year + $2 a week for the balanced option, and 0.969% of your balance per year + $2 a week for the growth option.
Another fund that offers cashback rewards to its members is GuildSuper.
Traps to watch out for
While these are all seemingly easy ways to top up your super, there are a few potential traps you need to be aware of.
- If you have to move your superannuation into another fund to get these features, make sure you do your homework. At the end of the day, the fund must stack up well. Consider how the fund has performed over the long term when compared to similar options, look at the fees charged and also make sure it has all the features you need or want, such as insurance.
- As you need to shop at particular retailers to benefit from some of these cashback offerings, make sure you aren’t paying more than you need to. Shop around first to see if you may be able to get a better deal elsewhere.
- Ensuring you stick to any contribution caps. Most of these options are likely to fall into the ‘non-concessional’ contribution category, and an annual cap of $100,000 applies to these types of contributions before you have to pay extra tax, according to the Australian Taxation Office. A lower cap of $25,000 a year applies to ‘concessional’ contributions.
Options that won’t cost you a cent
There are also a few more traditional options that can help you boost your super – and they don’t require you to add in a cent.
- Give your super fund a health check. You could get similar benefits to these ‘newer’ options by just making sure you’re not in a dud fund. That means taking a close look at factors like how your fund has been performing over the long term and if the fees you’re being charged are reasonable.
- Track down any lost super. There are a surprising number of ‘lost’ super accounts sitting with the ATO and it’s fairly simple to see if one of them belongs to you, if you have a myGov account.
- Get your spouse to help you out and they may benefit too. If your spouse tops up your super, they may be eligible for a tax offset of up to $540 a year. According to the ATO, to get the maximum offset they must contribute $3,000 into your super and you must earn less than $37,000. If your income is more than $37,000 but less than $40,000, they may get a partial offset.
About Effie Zahos
Canstar’s Editor-at-Large, Effie Zahos, has more than two decades of experience helping Aussies make the most of their money. Prior to joining Canstar, Effie was the editor of Money Magazine, having helped establish it in 1999. She is an author and one of Australia’s leading personal finance commentators, appearing regularly on TV and radio.
Main image source: Suntezza (Shutterstock)