Watch the Commission for Financial Capability’s resident KiwiSaver expert, David Boyle, in this Sorted Live Q&A.

There’s a bit of misinformation in the air about KiwiSaver these days. Believe it or not, even whether it’s our money – or real money – can be up for question sometimes. 

So it’s time to bust some KiwiSaver myths. Feel free to pitch in any others you’ve come across, but here’s a starter for 10 of beliefs about KiwiSaver that just aren’t true.

1. It’s not really my money.

It’s as real as the money in your savings account, and just as much yours.

2. I can lose all my money.

There is a key difference between a savings account and a KiwiSaver account: the latter can go down as well as up, because your money’s invested in units that can go up and down in value.

But the money’s typically in many diverse investments, so some will do well, others less so, and it’s impossible for all of them to become worthless at once. You’re not gambling, after all.

3. Fees are the most important thing to know.

There’s a lot of talk about fees, but we need to flip our thinking. You need to pay close attention to what type of fund you’re in first, and make sure you’re contributing as much as you can. Then look to see how much you’re paying in fees and what results you get – after fees are taken out.

4. All the funds are the same.

Clearly not. A quick look at the KiwiSaver fund finder shows how varied the 199 funds are. There are different types of funds, charging different fees, offering different services and getting… different results.

5. Employers don’t have to match my contributions.

Oh yes they do! In most circumstances they are required to put in a minimum of 3% for their employees. That is taxed before it goes into our accounts, so it’s typically slightly less, but employers can always opt to put in more for their workers. Many do.

6. KiwiSaver is only for those that work.

No way. Anyone under the age of 65 can join KiwiSaver, including kids, home-making parents, beneficiaries, students or those between jobs.

7. I can never get my money out of KiwiSaver.

The money is typically earmarked for retirement, so it’s good to have it locked up to stay on track. But there are circumstances where it can be withdrawn for a first-home deposit, relationship breakdowns, serious illness or falling on truly hard times.

8. As a non-worker I can’t save $1,043 to get the member tax credit.

Getting the full government contribution to your KiwiSaver each year takes just $20 a week. For every dollar you put in, the government will match it with 50 cents, up to a maximum of $521 for you. Every year, whether you’re working or not. And even if you can only put in $10 or $5, the government will match that in the same way, so it’s still worth doing.

9. I didn’t join KiwiSaver, because if the provider goes bankrupt I will lose all my money.

KiwiSaver funds are trusts set up in your name. If a KiwiSaver provider’s business were to fail, your money would not be lost. It is held in trust – which means it’s “ring-fenced” so it cannot be touched by the business for any other use.

10. If I die, all the money goes back to the Government.

Good news! This is not the case. Since it’s your money, like everything else you own it becomes part of your estate. Set up a will, and your KiwiSaver money will go to whomever you choose.

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