Retirement can be a potentially confusing time financially, especially with sudden access to that KiwiSaver cash. A common misconception when it comes to KiwiSaver is that once you reach the age of 65, you need to withdraw all of your KiwiSaver funds immediately. This isn’t the case. In fact, many providers will allow you to keep your account open and earning investment returns, while also letting you make regular withdrawals (and deposits), even after retirement. 

 

Here are a few other common KiwiSaver mistakes that retirees may come across. 

 

Not having a plan 

It’s natural to want to splurge a little after a lifetime of prudent saving and investing. Retirement is often seen as the reward. However, spending that hard-earned money quickly on extravagances can cost you in the long run. The best way to make sure your retirement money will last, while also allowing for those luxuries, is to make a plan for how you will use your KiwiSaver funds. 

 

This could involve how often you will withdraw your funds (e.g., regular monthly payments or annual lump sum withdrawals) and what you will use your funds for (e.g., allocating the majority of your KiwiSaver funds to paying for life essentials or living off other savings and using KiwiSaver to treat yourself). 

 

Paying off consumer debts 

While paying off your debts is always good practice, leaving them until retirement isn’t as beneficial. Ideally, you should try to have your debts paid off before you finish employment, while you’re still earning an income to replace those funds. This leaves your KiwiSaver funds intact and ready to support your post-retirement lifestyle. 

 

Financial support of family and friends 

Wanting to help your loved ones is a natural and healthy desire, but sometimes when people hit retirement it can trigger an influx of folks asking for financial aid. Some retirees can be subject to intense pressure to assist, for example with family debts, business capital, or helping with first home purchases. Always remember that these are your savings, and you should always feel completely comfortable with the situation before making a financial commitment, even with family. 

 

Missing the fine print 

Many people approaching retirement age aren’t aware of the technical details involved with withdrawing KiwiSaver funds. If you joined a KiwiSaver scheme on or after July 1st, 2019, you can withdraw your savings when you turn 65. If you joined before that date then you can withdraw when you turn 65 or after you’ve been a member for five years, whichever is later. 

 

Not being in the correct investment fund 

In the years before retirement—and after, if you’re keeping your fund active—it can be good to adjust the risk profile of your investments. Too many high-risk investments can easily wipe out years of gains, while being safe and keeping your money in low-risk ventures or a savings account can prevent you from benefiting fully from that money. 

 

To make sure that your KiwiSaver money continues to work for you, it might be worth considering investing in a mix of growth, balanced and conservative funds. Each retiree’s situation is different, so make sure to take into account your financial situation, your goals, your needs, and speak to a financial adviser before making any decisions. 

 

If you need advice or guidance, our AdviceFirst advisers can talk you through how to maximise your KiwiSaver investment in the lead up to your retirement and well beyond. You can call an adviser on 0800 438 238 or email letstalk@advicefirst.co.nz  

AdviceFirst is a Financial Advice Provider (FSP23242).