If you’ve left New Zealand, having a blast on your OE, your KiwiSaver account back home might be the last thing on your mind. 

Here’s why you shouldn’t neglect your KiwiSaver when you’re working overseas. Contributing, and keeping an eye on your account, can bring big benefits.

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It will work for you in the background

Rob Glasgow, a wealth adviser at Pie Funds, says even if you’re overseas, the money in your KiwiSaver account will still be working in the background. That’s because you earn returns on your money over the long term. But contributing regularly will help maximise those potential returns.

A few years can make a difference

If financial markets perform well over a two or three-year period, you could miss out on valuable returns if you’re not contributing.

This might make it harder to reach your goals, Glasgow says.

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It keeps you in the habit

If you’re earning money overseas, try to keep up the 3% (or more) contributions you made to KiwiSaver when you were back home, rather than spending the spare money. This will keep you in the habit of investing regularly to get the maximum benefits.

“Every bit makes a difference,” Glasgow says.

Contact JUNO for KiwiSaver help

You can use it for your first home

While buying your first home might not be a priority when you’re overseas, Glasgow says it might become a focus when you return home.

Your KiwiSaver investment will probably get higher returns than a bank account or term deposit, and this makes it a great help for saving money for your first home deposit, Glasgow says.

And a few other important things to remember…

Prioritise your student loan and other debt 

Glasgow says it’s important to pay off any high-interest debt, like credit cards, before you contribute to your KiwiSaver account.

Also, make sure you’re keeping on top of the minimum repayments on your student loan, if you have one, he says.

Ideally, you’ll be earning enough money to cover your student loan repayments, plus a bit more, and have something left to put into your KiwiSaver account too, he says.

Keep in mind you’re overseas to take advantage of the amazing experiences, travel and create memories, so keep the balance right. If you’re putting all your money into savings and can’t afford any travel, it might defeat the purpose of living overseas.

Watch for money transfer fees

Use a low-cost exchange to transfer money back home. 

Glasgow suggests letting your savings accumulate in your savings account overseas, and transferring it back to your New Zealand account once every month, or three months. This will help reduce exchange fees. The TransferWise app is becoming popular with Kiwis.

Check in once a year

Make sure your KiwiSaver money’s in the right fund, and that you’re not paying too much in fees for what you’re getting in return. Glasgow says you should check your provider is still performing well, and not put KiwiSaver to the back of your mind.

Use Sorted.org.nz’s Smart Investor tool to help you compare your current provider’s fees and returns.

KiwiSaver can be an important tool to help you into your first home when you return from your overseas trip. Keeping on top of it will pay off in the long run, and contributing regularly will help maximise your returns. 

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Here at JUNO, we think we’re a great choice if you’re living overseas because:

  • JUNO has low, fixed fees, and no fees at all if you have a KiwiSaver balance under $5,000. Low fees can really help your balance grow. 
  • JUNO will keep you updated on the latest on your KiwiSaver balance and any changes to KiwiSaver. We have more than 120 educational articles on our Learn with JUNO page, to help you learn about KiwiSaver and your money. 
  • We have a dedicated customer service team who can help you with any questions about your KiwiSaver account. If you want to avoid an expensive phone call, just email or use the live chat option. Our team is keen to hear from you, to talk about how JUNO can help make your money work harder to help you have a brighter future.

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Published 29 October 2019

Story by Claire Connell, JUNO

Rob Glasgow is a wealth adviser for Pie Funds. Pie Funds Management Limited is the issuer of the JUNO KiwiSaver Scheme. You can read our Product Disclosure Statement here. All content is correct at time of publication date. This article is general in nature only and has not taken into account any particular person’s objectives or circumstances. Before relying on it, we recommend you speak with an independent financial adviser.