Each week the New Zealand Herald and Newstalk ZB's Cooking The Books podcast tackles a different money problem. Today, it's celebrating KiwiSaver's birthday with the biggest dos and don'ts. Hosted by Frances Cook.

Happy birthday, KiwiSaver. You're now 10 years old, and if my childhood memories serve me right, it's a very big deal to finally get into double digits.

I'll let you enjoy the birthday cake, but I'm afraid there's some bad news. Even 10 years in, not everyone is sure how you work, or even wants to sign up.

Around 580,000 people didn't contribute anything to their KiwiSaver last year. Even for those who did, about 450,000 are in default conservative funds.


This means people haven't thought about where their money is going, and could be missing out on hundreds of thousands of dollars.

KiwiSaver is one of the best tricks you have up your sleeve for looking after your finances. It helps you save, can teach you how to invest, and will almost certainly make retirement a lot easier.

And yet, the figures show a lot of us have no idea how to use it. Hitting ten years since KiwiSaver launched means the time for excuses is officially over.

It's even more important when you think about how precarious pensions are these days.

The age keeps getting pushed out, the amount you get is miserable, and some think the day will eventually roll around when there's no pension at all.

So, KiwiSaver could end up being all you're left with.

Luckily, the scheme isn't actually all that tricky. I called Canstar research house general manager Jose George, to get his biggest dos and don'ts.

While actually putting money into KiwiSaver was a major do, we also discussed picking your fund, if risk is good or bad, paying off high-interest debt, and checking the fees on your KiwiSaver.


For the full interview, listen to the podcast.

If you have any questions or suggestions for a future podcast, come and find me online. I'm on Facebook here, and Twitter here. You can also subscribe to the podcast on ITunes here.