What’s the average KiwiSaver balance?

Around 2.8 million Kiwis have a KiwiSaver account. But what’s the average balance – and how does your account compare?

How much do Kiwis have in KiwiSaver?

At the end of March 2018, there was a massive NZ$48.6 billion dollars of KiwiSaver money invested. 

But of the 2.8 million New Zealanders enrolled in KiwiSaver, a disappointing 1.2 million aren’t putting any money into their accounts. 

That’s a huge number missing out on valuable savings they could use for their first home deposit, or to enjoy a better retirement.

The average balance of everyone enrolled in KiwiSaver is NZ$17, 130.

But many people are not contributing to KiwiSaver.

Nearly everyone should be in it

Tom Hartmann, the Commission for Financial Capability’s personal finance editor, says it’s disappointing more people aren’t taking advantage of the benefits and incentives of KiwiSaver. 

“KiwiSaver works best when it’s automatic, working and growing behind the scenes. It only works when you contribute.

“There are sizeable amounts of money being left on the table if you aren’t getting your employer’s contribution,” Hartmann says.

You can get free government money available if you contribute regularly – up to NZ$521 each year.

Hartmann says because your money is invested, you can also get returns. You can take advantage of compounding interest, because you’re going to be invested for many decades, he says. Compound interest is where your returns are added to your total and you get returns on top of that. In short, you get interest on your interest.  

Why aren’t people contributing?

Hartmann says the main reason people aren’t contributing is they’ve taken a break from contributing, called a 'savings suspension'.

Hartmann says a lot of the people not contributing are self-employed, because it requires a bit more effort to manage contributions to your KiwiSaver account when you work for yourself.

Good reasons to not be contributing

Some people have valid reasons for not contributing, Hartmann says.

Perhaps they’re in major financial hardship, seriously ill, or are signed up to another good savings scheme. 

“These days you need to have a really good reason to not be in KiwiSaver,” Hartmann says.

How to help yourself

He says the Commission has put a lot of effort into educating people about their KiwiSaver balances, and the scheme itself, through the Sorted website.

Important things to learn are:

• What contribution rates are.

• How to get the government contribution.

• Picking the right fund; and

• Making sure you’re not paying too much tax (you can’t get it back if you overpay it).

The Commission wants to see more people taking advantage of the benefits of KiwiSaver, Hartmann says.

“KiwiSaver is an opportunity and many Kiwis are walking away from that.”

Published August 2019

Story by Claire Connell, JUNO

We aim to make investment with KiwiSaver easy to understand. To help us make this article reader friendly, we used The Write Plain Language Standard.

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. We recommend you speak with a financial adviser.