Does delaying make a difference?
Superannuation is typically something that a lot of people don’t think about until they’re in the last years of their working life. But putting extra into super earlier, rather than later, can make a big difference.
Of course it makes sense that it’s not a priority when you’re young. There are a lot of other things to think about in your 20s and 30s, such as buying a home, getting your kids through school, carving out your career and trying to live in the moment occasionally.
Superannuation is there to support your lifestyle in retirement, so it’s reasonable that people who are decades away from retirement don’t give it a second thought.
However, by not looking at your super when you’re young, you could miss out on literally hundreds of thousands of dollars. Yes, we said hundreds of thousands.
This is because super uses the power of compounding to deliver returns on the money you invest and then deliver returns on the returns! The longer your money has to compound, the more it could grow on itself.
Let’s look at a couple of simplified examples. They don’t include any contributions from employers or the returns that would have been earnt on any employer contributions. We’re just looking at the contributions our 2 example members might make:
Example 1: Jack
Jack is 25. He puts an extra $200 a fortnight into his super. By the time he’s 35, $52,000 of his own money has gone into his super. This $52,000 has delivered him a total of $23,330 in additional returns.
Then, from the age of 35 to 60, Jack doesn’t put any more of his own money in to super.
By the time he’s 60, Jack’s super balance has increased to deliver an extra $515,800. That half a million is made up of his original $52,000 which he contributed between the ages of 25-35 plus the returns that earnt on top of that of $463,800. Yep, he retires at 60 with an extra $515,800 over what he would have had if he had done nothing.
Example 3: Jeanne
Jeanne is 50. She started putting an extra $200 a fortnight into her super from her 50th birthday. By the time she’s 60 and retires, $52,000 of her own money has gone into super. This has earnt her $23,300 in returns.
She retires with an extra $75,000 – much better than nothing!
If she wanted to retire with a similar extra amount to Jack she would need to contribute $1,400 a fortnight for the next 10 years!
What does all this show?
The younger you start, the longer your money has to grow. However, if you are already aged over 25, don’t panic. You haven’t missed your chance. You still have plenty of time to grow your super.
As you can see, even with our example of Jeanne who has just 10 years until retirement, putting additional money into your super at any age can make a difference to the amount you take at retirement.
To get started making additional contributions to your super, use our Vary Your Contributions form to make regular contributions through your payroll or download the Lump Sum Contribution form to make a one-off contribution.
These examples are very simplified and assume a regular return of 8% each year. In reality, super is much more variable and you are likely to have negative returns where you lose money in some years (the likelihood of having a negative return will depend on which investment option your super is invested in) and returns higher than 8% in other years. You can learn more about the expectations of your investment option on our website.
To calculate the numbers used in these examples, we used the https://moneysmart.gov.au/budgeting/compound-interest-calculator – assuming 8% annual returns, compounded annually.