KiwiSaver Myths – What You Need To Know

KiwiSaver has been around now for over a decade.

I have helped people to understand and make their KiwiSaver funds work for them, but I still sit down with many people that still have some common misconceptions.

Some of the common ones are highlighted in this article: KiwiSaver Myths

I would be happy to answer any other questions that you may have regarding KiwiSaver and if you wish help get you on the right track.

Please feel free to contact me or call on 09 551 3500.

How to boost your retirement savings in your 40s

Age isn’t always just a number. On a financial side of things, your 40s may be a time of consolidation, when you can confirm or adjust your decisions, and verify your plans for the future. It can also be a good opportunity to give your pension pot a chance to grow.

Here are some steps you can take to fast-track your savings and make retirement planning a priority.

Make your mortgage work for you

Like to take control of your finances? If you have a mortgage on your family home, now may be the right time to be proactive and give this long-term commitment a health check.

A few things might have changed in your life since you first signed on the dotted line: is your home loan still aligned with your needs? Even small changes can make a big difference over the life of a mortgage – not to mention your financial life as a whole.

If you’d like to explore your options, a mortgage adviser will help you find the best ways to structure your home loan.

Get rid of high-interest debt

Taking on debt is not necessarily a bad thing, unless it’s getting in the way of your savings goals. And if it’s allowed to grow, high-interest debt can quickly accumulate, preventing you from funding other important long-term needs – like retirement.

It’s a good idea to create a budget and funnel as much money as you can into repayments. Once your debt has become a thing of the past, you’ll be in a better position to secure your future.

Investing today for tomorrow

Your ‘time horizon’ is one of the most important components of any investment plans, including KiwiSaver. The longer your investment horizon, the more time you have to ride out the ups and downs and increase your retirement cushion.

At 40-something, time is still on your side. You may even consider investing in higher-risk funds (growth or aggressive) if they’re aligned with your personal attitude to risk.

Not sure about your risk profile? Please feel free to contact us: we’ll be happy to help you identify it and find the right balance in your investment portfolio.

How fit and healthy are your savings?

How much have you saved so far? Are you on track or off track for your desired retirement? Once again, your 40s are an ideal time to assess your progress and take action.

If you’ve already built a little nest egg, you may look at putting it into a high-interest account, so that it works to its full earning potential. And if you’re falling behind, it’s not too late to catch up. What you need is to take a look at the numbers and set up a realistic savings strategy. Need help? Talking with a financial adviser can give you a fresh pair of eyes you need to put your financial life into perspective.

 

An Adviser Disclosure Statement is available free and upon request.

Making your retirement planning work – at 55 and over

Successful retirement planning is a key part of being prepared for life after work. The comforting news is, it’s never too late to take action. Of course, the later you start in life, the more challenging it is to support the lifestyle that you want.

If you’re over 55, and belong to KiwiSaver or have your own business, there are ways to give your nest egg a helping hand – and get the most out of your savings after retirement.

How close are you to retiring?

Effectively managing your KiwiSaver is always important, regardless of your age. But depending on your risk appetite, and how close you are to your last day of work, your decisions in terms of risks and returns can vary.

Bear in mind that the closer you are, the lesser time you have to weather the ups and downs of the market. If you’re set to access your KiwiSaver money within the next 10 years, then lower-risk funds may be your best option – unless you’re willing to take a higher financial risk (and potentially higher losses) in the hope of a bigger and quicker return.

Regular income or lump sum?

According to a recent global report, New Zealand’s pension system is among the world’s top 10. But there’s room for improvement – for example, by increasing the focus on getting an income from retirement savings rather than a lump sum.

This is certainly a valid point. Managing your nest egg so that it lasts can be challenging, and definitely takes advanced planning. If securing a regular income works best for you and your long-term needs, keep in mind that KiwiSaver can help you. Although funds can be accessed after the age of 65, there’s no obligation to withdraw all of your savings in one go. You can stay in KiwiSaver for as long as you like, and draw your funds gradually over time.

And if you’re a business owner…

Your business is one of your biggest assets, and something you’ve worked hard to build. Have you thought about what will happen to it when you retire? Would you close it, sell it or pass it on to your family? Whatever the future you’re envisioning, it may be time to draft a strategic business plan and discuss it with all parties involved. Once again, you might want to retain some ownership and continue to receive part of the earnings, or you may go the way of selling it entirely and take home a lump sum.

Get some help from the experts

As KiwiSaver experts, we can help you plan for your retirement and work out with you how your savings will fund it. Don’t forget that having an expert in your corner can make all the difference, whatever the life stage you’re at.

And on this note, if you (or anyone you know) are keen to make KiwiSaver work for your needs, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Please note: This article offers generic advice rather than personalised advice and should not be relied upon as personalised advice.

An Adviser Disclosure Statement is available free and upon request. 

Enter KiwiSaver Survey and Win Prizes

 

Click the link below to ask yourself 4 simple questions about the key benefits of KiwiSaver.

There’s a lot more to it than people think! Most of our clients get these questions wrong…

Enter KiwiSaver Survey

If you complete your details at the end, you will go in the draw for a $4,000 House of Travel Voucher or one of ten $100 GrabOne Vouchers.

I offer a 30 min free advice session for anyone wanting to learn how to make the most of their KiwiSaver savings.

Get in touch today by emailing or, phoning me on 09 551 3500 and we can set up an appointment.

Please note: The prize draw T&Cs along with a copy of the Product Disclosure Statement can be found at generatekiwisaver.co.nz

Homeowners not losing sleep over interest rate rises, survey shows

A new survey has revealed Kiwi homeowners are largely unfazed about their ability to cope with mortgage rate rises, but they are continuing to find it difficult to curb spending on consumer items.

The nationwide survey by mortgage franchise network New Zealand Home Loans (NZHL) found more than half of respondents (57.6%) were either not concerned or were neutral about the potential for future interest rate increases.

The sentiment comes after the Reserve Bank held the official cash rate (OCR) last month at 1.75%.

Speaking to NZ Adviser, NZHL chief executive Julian Travaglia said although interest rates are slowly going up they are not completely unpredictable like in the past.

“I remember the days when rates were bouncing around like an elephant on a bungee cord,” he says, in contrast to their current slow but steady climb and the Reserve Bank indicating an OCR increase is unlikely any time soon.

“I don’t see the pressures that would require the Reserve Bank to force the OCR up particularly given that the housing market, at least temporarily, seems to be cooling.

“I think has made people a little bit complacent. I think people still don’t really understand that interest rates are by and large driven by off-shore funding costs by the banks as opposed to necessarily the OCR.”

He says mortgage holders should be paying off their debt faster and smarter.

“What we’ve seen from people’s spending habits is that they’ve managed to get themselves a home loan over a long period now when rates go up – when they come off that fixed rate and go on a new one, they can’t suddenly extend their home loan term out to make the payments lower again.

“So it’s going to force people into a position where they’re going to have to either make some reasonable cut backs or they’re going to get into some financial difficulty.”

Despite the view on interest rates, the survey found that homeowners have some areas of spending that don’t feel they have under control, with the biggest problem area of unplanned spending being around consumer items such as household electronics, tools and sports goods where 47% of respondents found difficulty controlling spending and secondly for services like household maintenance at 46%.

Travaglia he is concerned about those who have overextended themselves in the last few years and now tied to a hefty mortgage.

“If they haven’t been paying that off sooner – making hay while the low interest rate sun’s shining – they could find themselves in trouble down the track,” he told NZ Adviser.

The survey respondents consisted of 1,994 NZHL clients.

Source

Reserve Bank announces cash rate call

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) has today held the Official Cash Rate at 1.75%.

In a statement by Reserve Bank Governor Graeme Wheeler:

Global economic growth has increased and become more broad-based.  However, major challenges remain with on-going surplus capacity and extensive political uncertainty.

Headline inflation has increased over the past year in several countries, but moderated recently with the fall in energy prices.  Core inflation and long-term bond yields remain low.  Monetary policy is expected to remain stimulatory in the advanced economies, but less so going forward.

The trade-weighted exchange rate has increased by around 3 percent since May, partly in response to higher export prices.  A lower New Zealand dollar would help rebalance the growth outlook towards the tradables sector.

GDP growth in the March quarter was lower than expected, with weaker export volumes and residential construction partially offset by stronger consumption. Nevertheless, the growth outlook remains positive, supported by accommodative monetary policy, strong population growth, and high terms of trade.  Recent changes announced in Budget 2017 should support the outlook for growth.

House price inflation has moderated further, especially in Auckland.  The slowdown in house price inflation partly reflects loan-to-value ratio restrictions, and tighter lending conditions.  This moderation is projected to continue, although there is a risk of resurgence given the on-going imbalance between supply and demand.

The increase in headline inflation in the March quarter was mainly due to higher tradables inflation, particularly petrol and food prices.  These effects are temporary and may lead to some variability in headline inflation.  Non-tradables and wage inflation remain moderate but are expected to increase gradually.

This will bring future headline inflation to the midpoint of the target band over the medium term. Longer-term inflation expectations remain well-anchored at around 2 percent.

Monetary policy will remain accommodative for a considerable period.  Numerous uncertainties remain and policy may need to adjust accordingly.

Source

7% mortgage rates could collapse housing market

In its May Financial Stability Report the Reserve Bank of New Zealand reveals the results stress tests designed to assess the vulnerability of households to service their mortgages if rates rise.

It’s findings show a high number of owner-occupier households would be under financial stress if rates jump, which could collapse the housing market as defaults rise as demand weakens further.

The central bank considered a 7% mortgage rate, close to the average for a 2-year loan over the past decade, and a 9% rate which it says is “extreme but still plausible.”

At a 7% rate, the bank estimates that 4% of all borrowers (6% of the total stock of mortgage debt) and 5% of recent borrowers (9% of total) would be unable to manage their essential expenses. A further 9% of all borrowers would have only a small buffer for discretionary spending.

At a 9% mortgage rate, 7% of all borrowers and 19% of recent borrowers would be unable to manage.

“While the LVR restrictions have increased the banks’ resilience to any fall in house prices, a significant share of housing loans are being made at high debt-to-income (DTI) ratios. Such borrowers tend to be more vulnerable to any increase in interest rates or declines in income,” said RBNZ Deputy Governor Grant Spencer.

The report warns that Auckland’s mortgage borrowers are at a higher vulnerability to increased rates with 5% in the city estimated to be unable to meet essential expenses at a mortgage rate of 7% compared to 3% elsewhere.

With high levels of New Zealand’s homeowners vulnerable to mortgage rate rises, the central bank forecasts that a sharp and unexpected hike in rates could see defaults increase, consumption cut, and homes being sold to pay debts.

Source

Are You Maximising Your KiwiSaver? – Make sure you do by 30th June 2017!

I wanted to make you aware of Member Tax Credits for KiwiSaver that you are able to claim.

There were just under 580,000 eligible KiwiSaver members who received no contribution from the Government in their accounts in the 2016 financial year. That’s up from 573,000 the year before, 517,000 a year earlier and 466,000 in the 2012/2013 year. – Why let the Government keep money that is entitled to you!!

The Government contribution to your KiwiSaver savings is worth up to a maximum of $521.43 – but to get the full amount, you need to have contributed at least $1042.86 by 30 June 2017.

The Government pays 50 cents for every $1 you contribute, the maximum will be $521.43, so therefore you need to contribute $1042.86 to maximise the tax credit

If  you are 18 or over, working, self-employed or not working, you can get these tax credits as long as you contribute $1,042.86 for the year. 

You can check your KiwiSaver contributions online with most providers and see if you have contributed at least $1,042.86.

You DO NOT have to contribute if you do not wish to or you can contribute what is affordable in order to get at least some of the $521. (So for example if you contributed $500 you would receive $250 tax credit).

We can show you ways to make this easier over the course of the year and plan it so that you are maximising the benefits of KiwiSaver.

If you have any questions, then please feel free to contact me on 09 551 3500 or email info@insurenz.co.nz.

Source

RBNZ forecasts low rates to stay, sees weaker inflation ahead

(Bloomberg) — New Zealand’s central bank kept interest rates at a record low and forecast they will remain there for an extended period, saying inflation will slow. 

“Monetary policy will remain accommodative for a considerable period,” Reserve Bank Governor Graeme Wheeler said in a statement Thursday in Wellington after holding the official cash rate at 1.75 percent. “Numerous uncertainties remain and policy may need to adjust accordingly.”

Wheeler is wary of stoking expectations of a rate increase for fear of boosting the kiwi dollar and curbing inflation, which returned to the midpoint of the RBNZ’s 1-3 percent target band in the first quarter for the first time in more than five years. The bank projected Thursday that inflation will slow to 1.1 percent in the first quarter of 2018, and said a premature monetary tightening could undermine growth.

The New Zealand dollar fell more than one U.S. cent after Wheeler’s statement. It bought 68.28 cents at 10:34 a.m. in Wellington from 69.37 cents immediately before the release. The currency’s 5 percent decline on a trade-weighted basis over the past three months is “encouraging and, if sustained, will help to rebalance the growth outlook towards the tradables sector,” Wheeler said.

All 16 economists surveyed by Bloomberg expected Thursday’s decision, and they all forecast the benchmark rate will remain at 1.75 percent throughout this year. Four tip a rate rise in early 2018, and swaps data late Wednesday showed a 69 percent chance of an increase in the first quarter. Those odds fell to 58 percent today.

“The inflation forecasts seem to be testing the realms of credibility, given an economy that is forecast to continue to grow above trend,” said Cameron Bagrie, chief economist at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. in Wellington. “However, the message from the RBNZ is clear: policy is set to remain on hold for a considerable period and it has no interest whatsoever in pre-empting a policy tightening.”

On Hold
The central bank projected the average OCR will be 1.8 percent in early 2018, maintaining its previous forecast. Its projections show interest rates won’t start to rise until the third quarter of 2019, also unchanged from its last estimate.

“Premature tightening of policy could undermine growth, causing inflation to persistently undershoot the target midpoint,” the RBNZ said in its Monetary Policy Statement. At the same time, “further policy easing, in an attempt to see non-tradables inflation strengthen more quickly, would risk generating unnecessary volatility in the economy.”

Even though inflation has picked up much faster than the RBNZ expected, climbing to 2.2 percent in the March quarter, Wheeler said that was mainly due to temporary influences such as food and fuel prices. Recent developments “on balance are considered to be neutral for the stance of monetary policy,” he said.

Strong Growth
New Zealand’s economy expanded at a healthy clip through 2016, supported by record immigration and booming tourism and construction. Still, gross domestic product rose 2.7 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier — less than the RBNZ and most economists expected.

“The growth outlook remains positive, supported by on-going accommodative monetary policy, strong population growth and high levels of household spending and construction activity,” Wheeler said.

Growth will accelerate to 3.7 percent in the first quarter of 2018 from a year earlier, the RBNZ forecast today.

Wheeler in October introduced new lending restrictions for property investors in an attempt to cool the nation’s rampant housing market and give himself more room to keep rates low. There are signs the tighter rules may be having an impact, with house-price inflation slowing in largest city Auckland.

“This moderation is expected to continue, although there is a risk of resurgence given the continuing imbalance between supply and demand,” Wheeler said.

Source

Reserve Bank delivers cash rate call

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) has this morning left the official cash rate unchanged at 1.75%. 

Governor Graeme Wheeler said in a statement, “House price inflation has moderated further, especially in Auckland. The slowing in house price inflation partly reflects loan-to-value ratio restrictions and tighter lending conditions. This moderation is projected to continue, although there is a risk of resurgence given the continuing imbalance between supply and demand.

“Monetary policy will remain accommodative for a considerable period. Numerous uncertainties remain and policy may need to adjust accordingly.”

Canstar general manager Jose George said it is an uncertain environment for home owners and warned on the increasing pressure for mortgage holders.

“As recent statistics show, while house prices have started cooling in  Auckland and other larger cities, mortgage rates are starting to trend upwards,” said George.

“Independent of OCR, the costs of servicing a mortgage are rising. Couple this with rising inflation and the flow-on effect this could have on other living costs, you have a situation where an already stretched household budget will not be able to take the added pressure for most NZers.

“For savers the situation is more positive.  Despite a series of drops in OCR, term deposit rates have remained largely untouched over the last 12 months or so. We are now starting to see increases in deposit rates, reinforcing the belief that banks are keen to grow their existing domestic deposit book.

The full statement by Reserve Bank Governor Graeme Wheeler is below:
Global economic growth has increased and become more broad-based over recent months. However, major challenges remain with on-going surplus capacity and extensive political uncertainty.

Stronger global demand has helped to raise commodity prices over the past year, which has led to some increase in headline inflation across New Zealand’s trading partners. However, the level of core inflation has generally remained low. Monetary policy is expected to remain stimulatory in the advanced economies, but less so going forward.

The trade-weighted exchange rate has fallen by around 5 percent since February, partly in response to global developments and reduced interest rate differentials. This is encouraging and, if sustained, will help to rebalance the growth outlook towards the tradables sector.

GDP growth in the second half of 2016 was weaker than expected. Nevertheless, the growth outlook remains positive, supported by on-going accommodative monetary policy, strong population growth, and high levels of household spending and construction activity.

House price inflation has moderated further, especially in Auckland. The slowing in house price inflation partly reflects loan-to-value ratio restrictions and tighter lending conditions. This moderation is projected to continue, although there is a risk of resurgence given the continuing imbalance between supply and demand.

The increase in headline inflation in the March quarter was mainly due to higher tradables inflation, particularly petrol and food prices. These effects are temporary and may lead to some variability in headline inflation over the year ahead. Non-tradables and wage inflation remain moderate but are expected to increase gradually. This will bring future headline inflation to the midpoint of the target band over the medium term. Longer-term inflation expectations remain well-anchored at around 2 percent.

Developments since the February Monetary Policy Statement on balance are considered to be neutral for the stance of monetary policy.

Monetary policy will remain accommodative for a considerable period. Numerous uncertainties remain and policy may need to adjust accordingly.

Source