From a practical point of view, you certainly can put lump sums into your wife's KiwiSaver whenever you wish.
Most providers will allow this through internet banking, either directly into their bank account or via IRD using the KSS payment option (have your wife's IRD number handy as a reference). Or they will have an application form available for lump sum payments.
You can also set up regular withdrawals to help meet your living costs in retirement. You will have discovered from your own experience that the first withdrawal you make after reaching your 'end payment date' takes a bit longer, as the form needs to be signed as a statutory declaration by a JP or similar authorised person.
You need to confirm your identity and bank account details as well as your residence in New Zealand during any years you received Member Tax Credits. These are only available to New Zealand tax residents.
Once one withdrawal has been made, further withdrawals can be made without the need for a statutory declaration.
It sounds like you could benefit from talking to a financial adviser, to find out if your wife's KiwiSaver fund is suitable for this purpose.
With bank interest rates at record lows, there will be many retired folk like you looking around for higher returns. Be warned - a higher return will come with higher risk, and you need to be prepared to ride some ups and downs.
Most financial advisers offer a range of services, including advice on an hourly basis. All authorised financial advisers are bound by a Code of Professional Conduct that requires that they place the interests of the client first and act with integrity.
The Government has been reviewing the Financial Advisers Act 2008 and has recently released recommendations. Some of the proposed changes include the requirement that all financial advisers put the interests of their clients first (not just authorised financial advisers). Advisers will also be required to make clients aware of any limitations in their advice.
You are not obliged to pay a 'higher management fee' if you consult a financial adviser.
They must explain what fees or charges are involved, before you agree to any advice or recommendations.
The Institute of Financial Advisers has a search tool for finding an adviser in your area. It is a good idea to shop around to find someone who specialises in retirement planning, including KiwiSaver, and who not only 'speaks your language' but is also a good listener.
There are also websites designed to help people with financial decisions if they do not want to talk to a financial adviser. The Sorted website is a good place to start.
If bank term deposits are not generating enough income for you, looking for investments that can do better is just one strategy. Some retired folk free up money by moving from a big house to a smaller one while others have found a way to earn some extra income.
Everyone can benefit by going through their budget. Savings can be made by shopping around for the cheapest petrol, reviewing all regular commitments (pay TV, gym memberships, insurance) and using their local library rather than buying books. If it sounds a bit miserable it shouldn't be - everyone enjoys having more money in their pocket.
- Shelley Hanna is an authorised financial adviser FSP12241. Her free disclosure statement is available on request by calling 06 870 3838 or go to www.peak.net.nz. The information in this article is general and is not personalised. Send your KiwiSaver questions to email@example.com