Tamsyn Parker 's Opinion

Money Editor for NZ Herald

Tamsyn Parker: Is KiwiSaver really unaffordable?

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Is KiwiSaver really unaffordable? Photo/Steven McNicholl.
Is KiwiSaver really unaffordable? Photo/Steven McNicholl.

More than two million people have joined KiwiSaver since it began in 2007 but a significant chunk of the working population are still not in the scheme.

Various groups have done studies asking people why they haven't joined and the answers range from haven't got around to it, to, don't trust the government not to tinker with the scheme and I've got other better ways to fund my retirement.

Then there are those who say they can't afford it.

The reader who wrote into this week's KiwiSaver Q&A wanted to know if they could join up to KiwiSaver contributing less than the minimum 3 per cent.

This isn't possible for employees who have to put in the minimum rate - at least for the first year.

After that time employees can go on a contribution holiday and put in whatever amount they choose.

Many just put in the minimum $1043 contribution needed to get the $520 tax break from the government.

I can understand that KiwiSaver may be unaffordable for many who are students, beneficiaries or have an unreliable income.

But is it really that unaffordable to those who work and earn more than the minimum wage?

What do you think?

GLASS HALF EMPTY
As Diana Clement points out in her column this week it seems many people would rather look for excuses for why they can't do something than looking for ways to make it happen.

Clement has just returned from a trip of a lifetime to Brazil and couldn't help but admire the innovation of the Brazilians and the desire to be happy despite many living in real poverty.

Kiwis on the other hand seem more prepared to moan about their situation than do something about it.

Clement admits there are people in New Zealand who have the cards "stacked against them" but says there are fewer than many would claim.

Read more about it here.

NEW CAR DEBATE
The subject of buying a new car and whether it makes good financial sense has got readers of Mary Holm's column hot under the collar.

She talks to Clive Matthew-Wilson, editor of the car review website dogandlemon.com, about buying a new car and the financial pitfalls.

Matthew-Wilson is quick to point out that new cars lose about 40 per cent of their value in depreciation in the first year.

However readers don't agree and have questioned where they can buy a one year old car that is 40 per cent cheaper than a new car.

Check out the debate here.

FREE ADVICE
One story to get my attention this week was the British government announcing that it will provide free independent advice to pensioners.

Earlier this year it announced retiring Brits would no longer have to buy an annuity with their superannuation savings. Instead they will have the chance to take it out as a lump sum.

Obviously with that change the risk is left open that people will just blow their savings in a short time.

So to help people out (and reduce the chance of the change looking bad for the government) pensioners will get free independent advice either over the phone, online or in person from next year.

This service will be paid for out of a levy on the financial services industry.

It's an interesting move and one bound to raise the angst of financial advisers.

But in the wake of the global financial crisis the public has been left with a deep distrust of advisers and many see them as little better than salesmen.

Could this be a new way forward?

- NZ Herald

Tamsyn Parker

Money Editor for NZ Herald

Tamsyn Parker is the NZ Herald's Money Editor. A business journalist for ten years, she has worked in the UK and NZ for the New Zealand Herald, the National Business Review and a specialist publication on investment products for financial advisors. She is passionate about helping readers learn more about to make their money work for them.

Read more by Tamsyn Parker

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