Paul's Insights: Do a Marie Kondo on your super

Japanese organisational expert Marie Kondo has made tidying up a hot topic, and it could be filtering through to our finances.
By · 15 Feb 2019
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15 Feb 2019
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In the last quarter of 2018, 66,000 Australians tidied up their super, and they’re collectively $860 million better off.

Kondo’s central maxim is that we should only hang onto things that spark joy. But before spending time re-organising your sock drawer, it’s worth channeling some energy into sorting out your super.

Finding lost money always feels good, and there’s a mammoth $17.5 billion pool of forgotten super gathering dust and waiting to be claimed. More than a third of Australians hold two or more super accounts, so there’s every chance some of it could belong to you.

The remarkable thing about these unclaimed accounts is that some are worth a small fortune. One NSW account has a balance of $2.2 million.

Tracking down lost super is getting easier all the time. Just link your myGov account to the Tax Office’s online services, and you can view all your superannuation accounts including any you may have lost track of.

If it turns out you have some unclaimed super, it makes sense to roll the balance into your main fund. Just check if you could be up for exit fees (these will be banned from 1 July 2019), or whether the fund includes any insurance cover that you want to hold onto.

A different type of ‘lost’ super could affect a far greater number of Australians. I’m talking about money that can be lost to high fees being siphoned from your super year after year.

You could be paying well below 1.0% annually in fund fees. Or you could be forking out over 2.0%. The difference really stacks up over time. A 30-year-old could lose $200,000 of their total retirement savings to fees if their super is invested in a high fee fund.

Don’t wait for your annual super statement to arrive. Jump onto your fund’s website and get to know what you’re paying in fees. There’s a handy online super calculator on the MoneySmart website that shows the long term impact of fees on your super balance. If you don’t like what you see, think about switching to a lower fee fund. It’s as easy as filling out some paperwork.

Paul Clitheroe is Chairman of InvestSMART, Chairman of the Australian Government Financial Literacy Board and chief commentator for Money Magazine.

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