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2014 Your KiwiSaver

16 December 2014   Should parents sign their children up to KiwiSaver?
Q.        I enjoy your column about KiwiSaver but disagree with signing kids up while very young. Imagine a kid in their first job saving up to go to Uni or leaving home to see the world. Kids want every last penny and hate the fact they have to pay tax yet alone having extra deductions for 3% of their first pay to KiwiSaver added to that. They should be able to make their own financial decisions especially when it comes to their money. They won’t thank Grandma and Pa if they are forced to start “retirement contributions” from as young as 16. The other problem is, if they can’t get a job or just don't want one, they can plead hardship and opt out getting “Grandma’s Money” and travel first class on their OE. No, let kids make their own financial decisions when they are old enough. There are other investment options available for well-meaning grandparents which you can gift to your grandkids in the future through your will.  

9 December 2014   Only parents can sign children up to KiwiSaver
Q.        I would like my granddaughters to join KiwiSaver because I would like to start putting some money into their accounts. This money could help them buy their first home one day. I keep asking my daughter to organise it but she is always too busy. Can I sign them up to KiwiSaver myself? They live nearby and I see them a lot.

2 December 2014    Can we contribute more than 8% to KiwiSaver?
Q.        My wife and I are both 62. We (finally) paid off our mortgage 2 years ago and upped our KiwiSaver contributions to the maximum 8%. My account balance is at $61,000 while hers is just over $42,000. We are both on good salaries of around $70k each but we work long hours and would like to retire at 65. My question is, are we saving enough? We have $20,000 in ‘emergency cash’ but no other savings.

25 November 2014     Retirement or student loan repayments?
Q.        I am 22 and have just started my first full time job since leaving university. It is great to have a regular fortnigtly salary after living on a very tight student budget for the past three years. My question is, how much should I be contributing to KiwiSaver? I am earning more than I need to live on at the moment so should I increase my contributions to 4% or 8%? Or would it be better to pay off my student loan?  I plan to work in this job for three years and then head overseas

18 November 2014  KiwiSaver and inheritance
Q.        Do I have to leave specific instructions in my will about my KiwiSaver? Can I ask that my KiwiSaver be transferred to my son if I die? I am married and have been in KiwiSaver for 5 years now. The balance is nearly $30,000. 

28 October 2014   Ill-timed drop could cause havoc
Q.        My husband and I are both school teachers in our late 20’s.  We started working 5 years ago and joined KiwiSaver back then.  Our plan is to withdraw as much as we can to buy our first home.  I am expecting our first child in January and will be taking two years’ off work.  We haven’t been tracking our KiwiSaver balances up until now, but when we compared we discovered quite a difference.  I have been in a Mercer fund since I started while my husband was with AMP but switched to the Fisher Growth Fund soon afterwards.  He has a balance of $23,200 while I only have $18,800.  We are on the same salary scale and are both contributing 3%.  Why the difference?

21 October 2014      Is it worth students joining KiwiSaver?
Q.        I have a 17 year old daughter who will be starting University next year and will therefore be accruing debt in the form of a student loan.  She won't turn 18 till June next year.  Should she join KiwiSaver when she begins holiday work over the summer or would any money she earns be better put towards paying off that debt as soon as she can?  I imagine in the future she will want to buy a car or a home which will create further debt.

14 October 2014   Incentives not as good as they seem
Q.        I have read that you can get up to $100k of free accidental death benefits with KiwiSaver.  Is that a good deal?

7 October 2014  KiwiSaver vs Inflation
Q.           I’m not in KiwiSaver but my main concern is inflation. Every central bank in the world is printing money, countries are borrowing at virtually 0% and NZ is $68b in debt. I know everyone warns you about real estate but I bought a house in Havelock North in 2006 for $300k which is now valued at $500k - a 40% increase in 8 years. Another example, petrol in 2006 was $1.70 today petrol is $2.16 which is a 21% increase so your purchasing power is being eroded. Leaving your money in an account earning a pittance while fund managers scoop out their fees is pointless. Furthermore, no-one I have asked can tell me where their KiwiSaver provider has invested their money.  Why should anyone bother with KiwiSaver?

30 September 2014   No obligation to cease or withdraw funds after 65
I am a NZ permanent resident and have been enrolled in KiwiSaver since 2012.  I will be 65 in April 2015.  I work for a NZ-based company and plan to continue working until 67 years of age.  My question is, can I remain in KiwiSaver beyond my 65th birthday?  There is nothing in my Collective Employment Agreement forcing me to retire and furthermore my employer contributes 4% of my salary into the fund, which I imagine will continue until I retire.

23 September 2014   Foreigners working here not eligible
I am a Canadian working here in IT on a one year working holiday visa.  If I sign up to KiwiSaver while I'm here, what will happen to the money when I go back to Canada?

16 September 2014   Politicians should leave KiwiSaver alone
I have been in KiwiSaver since I started my current job five years ago.  I have been pleased with the way its growing but it sounds like there's going to be some changes after the election.  Why do they keep changing the rules?

9 September 2014   Money from KiwiSaver after financial hardship
Q.   I would like to withdraw funds from my ASB KiwiSaver account as I'm now unable to work and soon will not be able to meet my loan repayments.  I'm only just going to be able to manage my mortgage but not the loans on top.  I had these under control when I was working but my circumstances have changed.  My question is how far in debt do I have to go before I can request a withdrawal?  I do not want to end up with a bad credit rating.  I cannot add the debt onto my mortgage because it is a Welcome Home loan.

2 September 2014   Bank broke rules with its KiwiSaver bid
Q.   I opened a new bank account last week at one of the big banks.  One of the first questions was:  "Do you have KiwiSaver, and would you like me to transfer that across?"  I said: "No thank you.  I am already in Fisher Funds KiwiSaver and it is great where it is."  The staff member replied: "Oh but I think that scheme is closed now.  And out scheme is better.  Do you know what sort of fund you are in?'  She said if I transferred it over to the bank then it would be easier for me to keep track of the balance, as it would be there when I logged into online banking or used the mobile banking app.  Why was she so keen for me to change to the bank scheme?

26 August 2014  KiwiSaver remains useful after you turn 65
Q.   I joined KiwiSaver in July 2008 at the age of 63.  I became eligible to withdraw my money in July last year as by then I had been in the scheme for five years and of course I was over 65.  I realised that I was no longer eligible for member tax credits and my employer contributions also stopped so I decided to take all the money out and pay off my mortgage.  Was this a good thing to do?  Should I have kep my account going?  I am still working part-time and am now saving into a savings account at teh bank.  I get 4.25% per annum if I don't make any withdrawals but this is less than I was getting in KiwiSaver.

19 August 2014 Getting money for home shouldn't be problem
Q.        I read your recent column about buying a home with KiwiSaver. I didn’t know that buyers in Hawkes Bay can only buy a house worth up to $300,000. My wife and I have been putting 8% into KiwiSaver for the past 5 years and have worked out that together we could get out $50,000 in a First Home Withdrawal. We have two children and expect to pay at least $350,000 for a house near their school in Taradale. 

12 August 2014  Default funds all low risk
Q.        I have been reading your columns lately and want to find out more about the KiwiSaver Scheme I am in. I started KiwiSaver 5 years ago and I am in the ASB Conservative Fund. I don’t bank with ASB and I didn’t choose this fund, I thought KiwiSaver was all one big fund managed by the Government. I am 27 and single. Is ASB a good Scheme to be in? 

5 August 2014  How to get help with buying that house
Q.        Your recent column about teachers in the Government super scheme joining KiwiSaver applies to my situation as well. I would like to join KiwiSaver to get the benefit of the ‘kickstart’ and MTC but 3% of my salary is too much on top of what I already pay into SSRSS.  Can I set up a direct debit directly with the fund manager for just $20 per week, rather than have 3% coming out of my salary?  I want the employer contributions to keep going into the SSRSS scheme. 

29 July 2014   Default funds not for everyone
Q.           How do I find out if my KiwiSaver fund is performing well? I originally went into the AXA KiwiSaver Scheme because I had insurance with them. AXA KiwiSaver was taken over by AMP so I’m now in the AMP default fund. I don’t know how well they are doing or if it’s a good fund to be in. I am 43 so I could have over 20 years of saving ahead of me. 

22 July 2014   A break from savings is an option
Q.        Your recent column about teachers in the Government super scheme joining KiwiSaver applies to my situation as well. I would like to join KiwiSaver to get the benefit of the ‘kickstart’ and MTC but 3% of my salary is too much on top of what I already pay into SSRSS.  Can I set up a direct debit directly with the fund manager for just $20 per week, rather than have 3% coming out of my salary?  I want the employer contributions to keep going into the SSRSS scheme. 

15 July 2014   Online tools help you find the best KiwiSaver fund
Q.        I have worked out my investor profile so I know the type of KiwiSaver fund I should be looking for but how do I make an informed decision about the provider? They say past performance of the fund should not be the basis of choice…so what should? Is this where an expert like an investment adviser needs to be engaged?

8 July 2014     At 65 year of age, should I stay or should I go?
Q.        I enjoy reading your articles in the Hawkes Bay Today and wonder if you can make a suggestion for my situation?  In 6 weeks I will be 65 and I am wondering what my options are with my KiwiSaver account which has just under $10,000.  I joined up too late really but never mind. I am now self-employed and have continued contributing to gain the full Government top-up.  I am aware that once I turn 65 I won't get this but my question is, do I leave it there or will I get a better return from a term deposit at the bank?
Q.        I am a part-time primary school teacher. I have been contributing to the Government Employees Super Scheme for the last 10 years or so.  Can I also join the KiwiSaver Scheme? I am 62. How would it work with employer contributions? If I do join, what are the benefits - do I also get the Government's $1000 kick-start payment? 

24 June 2014      Making money while making a difference
Q.           I am interested in sustainable or green KiwiSaver funds. I have been searching for a long time and have not been able to find any. The Sorted website is not helpful at all.  My wife is with ASB’s FirstChoice KiwiSaver (Al Gore's fund) but they no longer take new members. This seems very odd, because from what I can tell, they seem to have among the best returns of any of the funds.  Why isn’t there more information about the availability of sustainable KiwiSaver funds, for example from the Green party?

17 June 2014  KiwiSaver funds complement superannuation
Q.        My fund manager sent me an updated KiwiSaver investment statement recently. I was about to put it out with the recycling but the chapter ‘What are my risks?’ caught my eye. I was surprised to read that neither the fund manager nor the Trustee promised or guaranteed that my investment will be repaid. Also, one of the risks they describe is ‘Not getting back some (or all) of your money’. Does this apply to all KiwiSaver Schemes?
3 June 2014    Why bother joining when nasty Super sting may be added?
Q.        I am 38 years old and earn $55,000 p.a. I have been in my job for the past 12 years and the company looks after me well. Most of my colleagues are in KiwiSaver but I haven’t joined – what’s the point? By the time I get to 65 the Government will probably make me live on my KiwiSaver before I get any Government Super. With all the tax I’ve been paying, I don’t think that’s fair.

27 May 2014    Significant hardship withdrawal easier said than done 
Q.        My wife and I are self-employed, each running our own successful business. We have two children aged 11 and 13. We each have a KiwiSaver account, and we are contributing to our own accounts as well as to our children’s account. While we are comfortable we do have significant financial commitments and we are aware that our success depends on our continuing good health and the wider economy. If everything turned pear-shaped and we needed to make a hardship application, could we apply to withdraw funds out of our children’s KiwiSaver accounts as well as our own? 

20 May 2014     Watch those KiwiSaver fees
Q.        I am 63 years of age and I have been a regular contributor to KiwiSaver since Day One through my work at that time. I became self-employed in 2012 and am paying in $100 per fortnight. My current balance is $47,810 and it is my intention to contribute as long as I am working, hopefully until I am about 70. I have just let the scheme meander along without taking too much notice but prompted by your column looked at the details and have a question on fees.  Going back to when I started regular fortnightly contributions (May 2013) I find monthly member and administration fees average $24.00 a month - this on contributions of $200......10% of contributions. It seems awfully high? Is this normal?

13 May 2014 MTC and contributions holiday
Q.        My son is currently on a KiwiSaver contribution holiday while he focusses on reducing his mortgage.  His employer is one of those who does not give him an extra 3%, he takes the employer contribution out of his wages.  So taking a contributions holiday effectively gives him an extra 6% before tax.  However, he does miss out on MTC.  Can he pay $1042 to his KiwiSaver provider directly, to get maximum MTC?

6 May 2014   Getting your big five hundy
Q.        In June each year I put $1042 into my KiwiSaver account to get maximum MTC.  I turned 65 in January. I know MTC stops at 65, but I believe I can still get MTC for the 6 months leading up to my birthday. Do I need to pay in $1042 or less?  And does it matter that I will be paying it in after I have turned 65? 

29 April 2014   If you go for growth prepare for falls
Q.           I am 56. I am contributing 8% of my salary to KiwiSaver and have been very pleased to see my savings increase steadily. I am currently in the Fisher Balanced Fund. Given that I have nearly 10 years to go until I reach the age of 65, would it make sense for me to switch to their Growth Fund for the next few years? I believe the outlook is good and I want to get the best returns possible. I have a freehold house but no other savings.

22 April 2014   Not all schemes are alike, pick one that suits
Q.        I am 61, still working and contributing to the Gareth Morgan KiwiSaver fund (now called Kiwi Wealth, I think). My husband is 65 and is in the same fund. He is currently self-employed and no longer contributing to his fund, therefore it is just sitting gaining a small amount of interest (we hope!).  What should we do now with his fund in order to keep the money safe and incurring good interest? I only work part-time so we don't have a big income.

15 April 2014   How do we invest inheritance cash?
Q.        I have inherited some money from my parents. I am 63 and my wife is 62. After taking the opportunity to do up the bathroom and kitchen we will be okay for any big discretionary purchases like cars or travel. We have enough cash and feel I should invest in other asset types. We have KiwiSaver accounts and wonder whether we should add a lump sum to those. I am tempted to put it in a more aggressive fund KiwiSaver fund which would perhaps generate a bigger lump sum for our two sons and grandchildren in the future.   Another option is to forget KiwiSaver and look at unit trusts instead, but the higher tax rate puts me off.

8 April 2014   KiwiSaver can't be used to repay student loans
Q.        Our son is living and working in the UK. He has paid off half his student loan but still owes $15,000. Currently he is paying just the minimum yearly payments, until he has more money, but of course he is being charged interest. At the same time, he has almost $14,000 in his KiwiSaver account! I don’t suppose he could somehow use his KiwiSaver to pay off his student loan?
Q.           I joined KiwiSaver in 2007 and am in the AMP default fund.  I don’t find their statements very helpful and I don’t get them very often either.  Is this the best fund for me?  I am nearly 64 and have close to $62,000 in my fund.

25 March 2014  Change of status affects KiwiSaver
Q .           I have been contributing 4% of my salary to KiwiSaver since 2007.  In May I will become self-employed.  Do I have to continue my contributions and how will I go about it, if I am not in a PAYE situation?
18 March 2014 KiwiSaver keeps going for many workers at 65
Q.           I have been a member of KiwiSaver since 2007 when I was 56.  I have been contributing 4% of my wages and my employer has been matching my contributions.  I will turn 65 at the end of next year.  What happens to my KiwiSaver then? If I keep it going, can I transfer it to my family trust?

11 March 2014    Employees need to track their own contributions
Q.        I opted out of KiwiSaver a few weeks after starting work 3 months ago. The payroll services company failed to submit my opt-out form, so according to IRD I have been enrolled in KiwiSaver since I started work. However, no amount from my wages has been deducted and no contributions made from the employer, but I am enrolled in KiwiSaver. Now I have decided to join KiwiSaver, and have submitted a KS2 form so both the company and I will start contributing towards the end of this month.  Is the company liable to pay around $200 of employer contributions to my KiwiSaver account, as they have failed to submit my opt-out form?  Do I need to match my contributions with theirs?

4 March 2014    KiwiSaver benefits from age 18
Q.        Our son will be 18 next month so will become eligible for member tax credits.  If he contributes $1042 before 30 June will he get the full member tax credits of $521? Does he have to make these contributions himself or can we help them? He works part-time while studying so his KiwiSaver contributions are quite small.

25 February 2014   Join KiwiSaver or pay or credit card?

Q.           My wife and I own our own home, partly due to the generosity of my father-in-law who gave us an interest-free loan when we got married. We are both in our 40’s. I work full time but I haven’t joined KiwiSaver because I have a credit card debt that I’m paying off. I don’t think that KiwiSaver will give me a better return than I will get by paying off my credit card. I am sure I am right in my thinking. Do you agree?

18 February 2014   Right KiwiSaver fund a balance of risk and return
Q.       My husband and I have been in KiwiSaver since it started.  We were in the ASB default scheme but we then moved across to the Grosvenor balanced fund.  Their adviser said that this was a more suitable fund for us.  When we look at our statements, we don't think this fund is doing as well as the ASB fund.  We also don't understand the information that they send us.  How do we find out whether this fund is any good?
Q.        I was talking to a friend about KiwiSaver the other day and we were debating what happens to our KiwiSaver when we die. My friend thought that the money went to the Government but I am sure it goes to my next of kin. Who is right?

4 February 2014      Should the Government run KiwiSaver?
Q.        Why doesn’t the Government run KiwiSaver – like it does the Cullen fund? There would be huge savings on fees. Those fund managers don’t do it for nothing. We would all be better off if the Government took over.

28 January 2014   KiwiSaver and creditors
Q.   I have built up a tidy balance in my KiwiSaver over the past 6 years as an electrician with a large company.  I am keen to become self-employed so that I can have more flexibility for my family.  I am planning to continue wiht my KiwiSaver to help me save and, of course, get the member tax credits each year.  Looking at the downside, if things turned to custartd and I went bankrupt, could creditors get their hands on my KiwiSaver?  I'm not expecting failure but I'm the kind of person who likes to tick all the boxes.

21 January 2014   Credits lost when moving abroad
Q.  I am British, and a New Zealand permanent resident.  I have been working and contributing to KiwiSaver since the start in 2007 and have built up over $40,000 in my fund.  I am planning to return to the UK - possibly permanently - when I turn 60 next year.  What should I do with my KiwiSaver when I leave?  Should I leave it and continue contributing from abroad, to get the $521 in tax credits until I turn 65, or cash it up?

14 January 2014 Catching up after opting back in
Q.   I opted out of KiwiSaver when I started work two years ago as I had to pay off a student loan and other debts.  I now want to opt back in.  How do I go about this and will I still get the $1000 kickstart?

7 January 2014  Casual workers and their KiwiSaver rights

Q. I am a 20 year old university student working during the holidays at a cafe in Napier.  I am a member of KiwiSaver but there's no mention of KiwiSaver on my payslip.  What are the rules for casual workers?