When it comes to money matters it’s tempting to take a ‘live for the moment’ approach. But that could spell trouble for your long term financial wellbeing especially when it comes to superannuation savings.
Here’s what I mean. A recent survey by Westpac asked people whether they’d prefer to find $200 in cash or find $2,000 to add to their super. On the plus side, 69% opted for the $2,000 to tip into super. However that still left one in three people preferring to take the $200 cash – one tenth of the sum that could go into super.
The same research found almost half (48%) of Australians said they would do ‘everything they could’ to find their mobile phone. Less than a third would do the same to find $2,500 in lost super.
What’s also interesting about this survey is it found that nine out of ten adults do not think they have any lost super. However, ATO records show there is a massive pool of $18.2 billion sitting in 6 million ‘lost’ accounts. Given that there are around 17 million people aged 20 and over in Australia, it seems more than one in ten of us do in fact have some lost super.
Getting in touch with forgotten super is simple. Just visit the Tax Office website (www.ato.gov.au) and use the online SuperSeeker database. It’s a free service. There are commercially run sites that do the same job for a fee. Avoid those, tracking down lost super is something you can easily do yourself, and it won’t cost you a cent.
If it turns out you do have some lost super, transferring it over to your main fund is as easy as filling in a few forms. And it’s worth the effort.
The average lost super account is worth more than $2,000, and according to the Westpac survey, if you’re aged in your twenties, reclaiming, say, $2,500 in lost super today could add an extra $22,000 to your nest egg by the time you retire.
The thing is, some lost super accounts are worth vastly more than a few thousand dollars. Tax Office records are also available that show which suburbs have the highest number of lost accounts, and this is where things get really interesting.
In NSW for instance, there are 7,600 lost super accounts with a total of $15 million waiting to be claimed by residents of the Liverpool area (postcode 2170). In Queensland, in towns like Ipswich that share the postcode 4305, there are 5,000 lost super accounts holding a total of more than $36 million.
You can check the value of lost super for your suburb, by looking up the Tax Office super statistics (click on ‘About ATO’ on the Tax Office home page and follow the links). More importantly, take a few minutes to see if any of it is yours.