It might seem strange to be thinking about the end of your career when you’re just starting it, but knowing what to do with your superannuation is an important first step in your working life - after all it’s your money.

What is super?

Super is money that’s set aside for your retirement. Contributions are usually made by your employer, known as Super Guarantee (SG), but you can also make contributions and may be eligible for government co-contributions, too.

There are rules around how much you can contribute and also how and when you can access it.

Before putting money into super, remember that once transferred, the funds may only be accessed if you meet a condition of release which include:

  • Permanently retiring after reaching your preservation age1
  • Ceasing a gainful employment arrangement after age 60
  • Reaching age 65
  • Becoming permanently incapacitated or terminally ill
  • Commencing a transition to retirement income stream upon reaching your preservation age

Your employer will make SG contributions on your behalf, usually at least quarterly. By law, employers are generally required to pay at least 9.5% of an employee’s salary into a super fund if the employee earns more than $450 in a calendar month and is:

  • 18 years old or over, or
  • under 18 and works more than 30 hours a week.

You can generally choose which fund your super gets paid into - you don’t necessarily need to go with your employer’s recommendation. Super comes from your hard earned money, so it’s important to know where it gets paid.

Where should you start?

If you’re under 18 and working less than 30 hours a week your employer may still be making super contributions on your behalf, even if they’re not legally bound to do so.

Though retiring is a while away, it’s never too early to start thinking about ways to grow your super balance, so it's worth finding a fund that is right for you.

Remember that you may not able to access your super until later, so any extra contributions you make may not be available to you for at least several decades.

If you do change jobs, keeping your super all in one account means you don't lose track of any of your earnings.

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Things you should know

1 Your preservation age will be between 55 and 60, depending on your date of birth. You can find out what your preservation age is by visiting ato.gov.au

Remember, before you make a decision about your super, you should compare the costs, fees, risks and benefits of super funds. It makes sense to consider whether you can replace any insurance cover you may lose when you bring your accounts together, as well as any costs for withdrawing from other super funds and any investment or tax implications.

This article is intended to provide general information only and does not take into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs. Taxation considerations are general and based on present taxation laws and may be subject to change. You should seek independent, professional tax advice before making any decision based on this information. The Commonwealth Bank is also not a registered tax (financial) adviser under the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 and you should seek tax advice from a registered tax agent or a registered tax (financial) adviser if you intend to rely on this information to satisfy the liabilities or obligations or claim entitlements that arise, or could arise, under a taxation law. Information in this article is up to date as at the date of publication.