The Ultimate Beginners Guide to KiwiSaver

The Ultimate Beginners Guide to KiwiSaver

Wondering how KiwiSaver works? You’re not alone. Here are the answers to some of the most common KiwiSaver questions.

What are the main benefits of KiwiSaver?

  • First and foremost, KiwiSaver is designed to help New Zealanders save for their retirement.
  • You can also use your KiwiSaver towards the purchase of your first home, and it’s an excellent way to create home deposit savings that you can’t touch.
  • If you’ve been a KiwiSaver member for three years, you may also qualify for a KiwiSaver First Home Grant – up to $10,000 towards your first home.
  • If you’re employed, your employer has to contribute at least 3% of your gross (before tax) salary or wage into your KiwiSaver account. Think of it as a 3% pay rise – and all you have to do is contribute at least 3% yourself. You can set your personal contribution rate at 3%, 4%, or 8% of your earnings.
  • As well as your employee/employer contributions, you can also receive an annual Government Contribution of $521 into your KiwiSaver if you contribute a minimum of $1042.86 per year ($20 per week). If you’re part of KiwiSaver for a lifetime, that’s close to $36,000! (Applicable between ages 18 and 64).
  • If you’re self-employed, we recommend contributing at least the minimum weekly amount above – $20.05 – to get your annual Government Contribution.

How do I get the KiwiSaver government contributions?

  • To receive the full KiwiSaver Government Contribution each year, you need to contribute at least $1043, which equates to around $20 per week.
  • If you’re earning $35,000 or more and contributing 3% or more, you will automatically reach the full amount.
  • If you earn less than $35,000 or are self-employed and don’t regularly contribute to your fund, you will need to top up your KiwiSaver to receive the full $521 from the government.

Does the government hold my money?

  • No. Your KiwiSaver account belongs to you – it’s your money, in your name.
  • KiwiSaver accounts are set up as investment funds. The government only facilitates the savings process through Inland Revenue, making sure all your contributions (and any employer contributions) go into your account.
  • We work with Booster, one of New Zealand’s top KiwiSaver providers. Booster is proudly Kiwi owned and operated and has been in the investment game since 1998.

Where does my money go when I contribute?

  • Your money goes directly into your KiwiSaver account which is part of a bigger fund. This fund is managed by a private provider who invests your money in shares, cash, fixed interest, and property.
  • When you set up your KiwiSaver, you choose your fund. If you don’t choose, you will go into a default fund (one of nine). You can change your KiwiSaver fund at any time.
  • The way your money is invested will depend on what type of fund you’re in: Defensive, conservative, balanced, growth or aggressive.

What if a KiwiSaver provider goes out of business?

  • KiwiSaver funds are set up as trusts to keep your money secure. If a KiwiSaver provider’s business failed, your investments would not be affected.

How come I don’t see my KiwiSaver money right away?

  • It can take up to three months for your contributions to reach your KiwiSaver account. Your employer directs them to Inland Revenue, who then checks that everything is correct. Inland Revenue then transfers the funds to your provider, including any interest earned during that time.

Could I lose my money?

  • KiwiSaver funds are set up and designed to keep growing – it would be very difficult (near impossible) to lose all of your money in KiwiSaver.
  • Because KiwiSaver is essentially an investment fund, it is natural that it will fluctuate up and down in value.

How do I get my KiwiSaver set up properly?

  • To align your KiwiSaver to your future goals, complete our online investor profile questionnaire  and one of our advisers will come back to you with a personalised recommendation.

If you have any KiwiSaver questions, please get in touch with us.

Our blog posts are for general information purposes only and are not intended as financial advice. If at any stage you need personalised advice, get in touch on 0800 346 765, or email