Q: In March I resigned from my job of seven years. During those seven years I have been contributing to KiwiSaver and my balance is now over $24,000. I have been unemployed since mid-March and looking for work. I am in my mid-30s. Can you please tell me what is happening with my KiwiSaver?
A: While you are not working, your KiwiSaver account is still active but no employee or employer contributions will be going into it. Those payments will have stopped when you got your last pay check. You should set up a MyIR login with Inland Revenue so you can track your payments. You can also see how much you have earned, and how much tax you have paid. You can also check your account by creating a login on your provider's website, or by internet banking if your provider is also your bank.
Because you are over 18 and under 65, in July you should receive a contribution to your KiwiSaver from the Government. This will be up to $521 depending on how much you have contributed since July 1 last year. This top-up will go through whether you are working or not.
If you can afford to make payments to your KiwiSaver account directly, saving $20 per week will entitle you to the full Government top-up in July next year. You can set up an automatic payment to your KiwiSaver provider.
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You should be able to find their bank account details through internet banking.
If money is tight, wait until you have a job and in June next year you can work out if you need to supplement your account then and by how much to get the full top-up.
While you are not working, spend some time learning about your KiwiSaver account. You can compare your fund with others on Sorted FundFinder. This online tool ranks 253 KiwiSaver funds by returns, fees and service. It is a great starting point for anyone who wants to know where their KiwiSaver money is invested and if they are in the right fund for their risk appetite and timeframe. Other useful online tools are provided by the FMA, CanStar, Mindful Money and PocketWise.
Due to the Covid-19 lockdown this has not been an easy time to look for work. If you are struggling financially and unable to keep up with rent or mortgage payments, talk to your bank and WINZ. As a last resort, you may be able to make a Significant Financial Hardship withdrawal from your KiwiSaver.
This is subject to trustee approval and you must show that you have sought help elsewhere first. It is a good idea to get free advice from a budget adviser if you are considering this option. Not only can they help you with the application process, they can also give advice on WINZ benefits, low interest (or no interest) loans and negotiating with creditors.
Shelley Hanna is an Authorised Financial Adviser FSP12241. Her disclosure statement is available on request and free of charge by calling 06 870 3838 or go to www.peak.net.nz. The information contained in this article is of a general nature and is not personalised. Send your KiwiSaver questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org