KiwiSaver hacks for maternity leave
It’s a well-known fact that, in our society, women carry more of the child-rearing load than men. What’s not so well known, is that women tend to be poorer in retirement than men. This is because that time spent caring for family is usually time out of the workforce. Time out of the workforce means a reduced income and less money in your retirement.
Another reason for this wealth disparity, is that women (still!) generally earn less than men, often when doing the same job. In addition, women are more likely to be lone parents and have more severe financial consequences when relationships end. To top it all off, women also live longer.
Retirement Commissioner Diane Maxwell highlighted these trends in her cffc.org.nz blog, stating that:
“Women live, on average, into their 80s, five years longer than men. Our children will live into their 90s and many people born now will live past 100.”
If you’ve just gone on maternity leave, or given up work to look after children, this can sound very doom and gloom. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
If you are in KiwiSaver, we’ve put together some life hacks to help you keep your retirement savings growing while you look after baby…
Make sure you get the free $521.43 from the Government into your KiwiSaver savings each year*.
Did you know that the Government may pay 50 cents for every dollar that you pay into your KiwiSaver account? This means that for every $20 you pay into KiwiSaver the Government may pay in $10. It’s called a Member Tax Credit (MTC for short).
MTC is a great way to boost your retirement savings when you aren’t working. The Government caps their contribution at $521.43 per year. So, to get the maximum pay-out from the Government you need to contribute $1,042.86 during the KiwiSaver financial year (1 July – 30 June) and meet the other eligibility criteria. There are only six months left to go in the current MTC year so this could be a big ask if you're down to one income. But just remember any money you can set aside to top up your KiwiSaver savings is worth it to get the MTC credit. After all, it’s not every day the Government gives you 50c for every dollar, so don’t let it slip away!
Set up a direct debit paying into your KiwiSaver account when you stop work to make sure you get your free $521.43.
If getting free money from the Government through the member tax credit sounds like a great idea, then set up a direct debit to make sure it happens. That way the money is out of sight out and of mind – meaning you can’t spend it on anything else. If you contributed $20 a week for the full KiwiSaver financial year (which started on 1 July 2017) you would qualify for a tax credit boost of $521.
Think outside the square: can any of your rewards points go toward your KiwiSaver account?
If you are a member of a credit card rewards scheme, ask your bank whether you could use the points you earn to make contributions to your KiwiSaver Scheme account. This way you use the points you collect going about your everyday business (filling the car with petrol, buying groceries and paying bills) as a way to save for your retirement. It’s a great way to make your money go further, especially when you're down to one income.
Not in KiwiSaver? Then why not think about joining?
KiwiSaver makes it easy to save for retirement. If you aren’t a member already, then why not think about joining? That way you too, could be taking advantage of the free $521.43 from the Government*, and protecting your financial future.