Still time to join KiwiSaver at the age of 64

My husband and I are self-employed and we never got round to joining KiwiSaver. I will be turning 65 next month, and I am wondering if there is any point in joining now? What are the benefits for self-employed people? You don't get the $1000 kick start from the Government any more plus there's no employer contribution for people in our situation? I thought about joining when it started but the hype and sales pressure put me right off.

I am sorry you were put off joining KiwiSaver when it started.

If you had joined back in July 2007 and set up regular savings of at least $90 per month you would now have over $20,000 saved - including $7778 from the Government by way of the kick start (now abolished) and annual top-ups.

But don't let the thought of what you have missed out on discourage you from joining now.

As you are 64 you can still join KiwiSaver, but you'd better get moving as once you turn 65 you will not be eligible to join.

I don't want to put in a plug for the banks, but as you have a deadline looming you may find the easiest way to join is to sign up at your nearest branch.

Or you can join online through any number of funds managers. You will need your IRD number and ID.

Once you are a member you can shop around at your leisure and move to a scheme and fund that suits you best.

Use the FundFinder tool on the Sorted website to navigate your way around the 200-plus funds that are available, or talk to an Authorised Financial Adviser.

What are the benefits of joining at this late stage? If you can afford to save $20 per week or $90 per month you will receive the annual top-up from the Government for the next five years (if it continues for that length of time - but all the more reason to get on board now).

The top-up is paid out at the end of June each year, and would be pro rata for any part years over this period.

The money is paid directly into your KiwiSaver account by Inland Revenue, based on information supplied by your fund manager.

Currently the maximum you can receive from the Government for contributing $1042.86 per year is $521.43 - or 50c in the dollar. You won't get a better return on your savings.

If you continue with your contributions over the next five years (to age 70) you would receive $2607 from the Government in annual top-ups, if there is no change to current rules.

This is a decent sum of money and, along with what you will save yourself, you could have over $8000 (assuming just a 2 per cent net return) when your KiwiSaver is unlocked.

You will be eligible to withdraw your funds five years after you join, which means that you will get access to the money shortly before your 70th birthday.

We don't usually look forward to getting older, but a KiwiSaver payout could be very welcome at that time.

- 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 shelley.hanna@peak.net.nz.

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