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Super basics

First steps in superannuation

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What is superannuation? 

Personal superannuation (often simply known as super) is money that’s put aside and saved while you’re working, so you can enjoy a regular income later in life when you retire. These days, the average Australian may expect around 20 years of retirement. By investing money in a superannuation fund, you’re building a nest egg to live on when you’re no longer earning a wage. And the more you put away now, the more you’ll be able to spend in your retirement.

How does it work?

If you work for a company or organisation, generally* your employer must pay money into a super account in your name, which is then managed by a super fund. Currently your employer must contribute 10.5% of your income, including bonuses, commissions and loadings. This is called the super guarantee and it's the law.

You can also add extra money to your super account, so you’ll have even more to live off when you retire.

If you’re self-employed you can choose how much of your income you set aside for superannuation.

Over the course of your working life, the contributions made and invested by your super fund add up with the aim of growing them even further.

To help ensure your superannuation savings are there for you in retirement, the government places restrictions on when and how you can access your super.

When can I access my super?

Generally you need to wait until you retire. Thinking of early retirement? See when you can access your super here:

When can I access my super? - icon
When can I access my super?
See when you can start accessing your super and what you should do to prepare.
Your date of birth
You can access your
super at age:
XX
How much super will you need when you retire?
We can help you figure out how much you will need to maintain your lifestyle in retirement.
Retirement calculator
You were able to access
your super from age:
XX
Plan your retirement
See how your super and age pension can work together.
See example

Remember you need to be at least 60 for your super to be tax free.

Once you’ve retired you can then:

  1. Have a regular super income stream to make your retirement more comfortable
  2. Take out a lump sum (but take care not to spend your future!)
  3. Combine a regular income stream with the Government Pension (if you're eligible).

How do I apply for super?

While most employers have a default fund, you can generally ask your employer to pay your super into a fund of your choice. You’ll find more details about selecting the right fund for you on the Choose A Fund page.

*Certain criteria must be met before super is paid. For more info go to: compulsory-super

I'M READY TO CHOOSE A FUND