Superannuation is a tax-effective long-term savings plan that enables you to save money for your retirement.
Whilst you are working, your employer is generally required to contribute to your super account quarterly (known as compulsory super or Super Guarantee), however there are also a range of other superannuation contribution options that that can be tailored to suit your individual circumstances, such as salary sacrifice, personal member contributions and spouse contributions.
Your super fund can invest the money in various assets such as cash, property, shares and fixed interest, depending on the investment option(s) selected. The earnings your superannuation fund receives each year are reinvested, building the value of your account throughout your working life.
To pay for the cost of looking after your super, fees come out of your account. Tax is also deducted on contributions and earnings, and if you have insurance through your super, your premium will be paid using your super money.
When you reach your preservation age and retire, which is typically between 55 and 67 years of age, you can access your super savings.
Types of super funds
There are several different types of super funds, but the main ones are:
Managed funds – members join as individuals through a superannuation provider. These providers are generally categorised as “retail” or “industry” and the choice of either will be dependent on your individual requirements.
Self-managed super funds – have up to four members and are generally used by people with larger amounts in super and who require a greater level of control for their retirement savings.