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July 20, 2018 | 07:19 AM
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Retirement

01.10.2008Retirement funds depleted?

Okay, so putting off that crucial financial planning appointment to discuss your looming retirement wasn't the wisest move


By Jill Fraser

If the big six zero is looming and your super fund is looking seriously depleted, don’t panic. Even three to five years out from retirement there are still things you can do to boost your super.

There’s no doubt that when it comes to super the early bird gets the worm due to the compound interest factor. However even at the 11th hour a few strategic changes can make a difference to a lacklustre super pot.

FatCat asked five financial experts for their advice on what to do to play retirement catch up.

AMP financial planner, Andrew Heaven of Wealth Partners Financial Solutions says before examining strategies identify your cash flow and determine your shortfall. “There’s no point sticking your finger in the air and saying if I retire tomorrow I’ll need $40,000 per annum when your living expenses are currently $60,000,” says Heaven.

There’s a host of interactive retirement tools on the internet. AMP’s ‘My Retirement’ simulator will give you an estimate of the shortfall between your existing super balance and how much you'll need in retirement.

According to the experts, tips for boosting your retirement savings include reducing debt and minimising tax by shovelling more funds into super.

Debt

The general consensus among experts is to pay off non-deductible debt such as a mortgage as quickly as possible either by budgeting or working longer.

Mike Hawkins, chief investment officer, Evans & Partners suggests paying off the mortgage and then using your home as security to borrow for investment purposes. A genuine seven-year plus horizon and the ability to borrow $200,000 could be very fruitful, he says.

He recommends steadily investing $120,000 into well-structured equity investments and putting the balance into fixed interest/hybrid type investments that distribute a healthy yield. “You could easily get that portfolio earning 7-8 per cent and given where valuations are at the moment the income that would come off the investment portfolio would service the interest bill plus you’d get a tax benefit,” says Hawkins.

Heaven swims against the tide arguing that the most effective strategy isn't necessarily reducing debt. He argues that paying off your mortgage with after-tax money mightn't be all that smart, especially compared to boosting your retirement savings using pre-tax dollars via salary sacrificing.

Heaven advocates converting the debt to interest only (so your minimum repayment is lower) and covering the interest payment with income drawn from a transition-to-retirement allocated pension while salary sacrificing into super. “That way you’ll reduce the amount of tax you pay and at a time in the future you take a lump sum out of your super and kill the debt.”

Minimise tax by putting more funds into super

An unbeatable strategy for a last minute injection of funds are transition-to-retirement allocated pensions. This strategy enables pre-retirees to continue working full-time, draw a transition pension while boosting their super by salary sacrificing up to $100,000.

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