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Everyone seems to be doing it. It seems like a good idea. People seem happy with it. But, you're not quite sure how to get started with the whole thing.

There's also the reservations we may have when it comes to doing something that requires some form of commitment. Much like deciding to be single for now after a big breakup, some of us might prefer more of our paychecks to ourselves instead of giving a portion of it outright to a fund. Others may have a more open outlook and be more willing to commit their time and resources to something that could turn out to be worthwhile in the future.

KiwiSaver schemes can also get a bit confusing. Remember that all-too-familiar experience of agreeing to put the "just friends" label on your relationship when, deep down, you want something more? Well, different KiwiSaver providers can also call two different schemes with different return rates using the same name. For example, Provider A's "Conservative" scheme has a 10% estimated return. On the other hand, Provider B's similarly named "Conservative" scheme can have a 20% estimated return instead.

Also, just like in a relationship, things can drastically change over time. Think of that friend who, after a few years of not seeing one another, suddenly becomes a suitable candidate for dating. Similarly, funds can also move from one type to another to adapt to changing market conditions.

We often come across different personalities while meeting other people. Similarly, KiwiSaver funds tend to fall under these five categories: Defensive, Conservative, Balanced, Growth, and Aggressive.

Defensive

Defensive funds typically hold between 0% - 9.9% in growth assets. These are for people who want to play it as safe as possible and are planning to spend their money within the next three years. The downside with this fund is that it has the least amount of growth potential. This means your money may possibly not even grow faster than inflation!

Conservative

Conservative funds typically hold between 10% - 34.9% in growth assets. These are for those who are okay with having some ups and downs in the value of their investment and are looking to spend their money in two to six years.

Balanced

Balanced funds typically hold between 35% - 62.9% in growth assets. These are the middle ground among the five fund types, giving you better returns than the safer types, but without as much risk as the more aggressive funds. These are best for those who can wait for five to twelve years before spending their KiwiSaver funds.

Growth

Growth funds typically hold between 63% - 89.9% in growth assets. These are for those looking for a high growth and have a larger appetite for risk than most. Because of the potential fluctuations in value this fund will potentially face, it's best to keep your funds intact for at least ten years to truly benefit from this fund.

Aggressive

Aggressive funds typically hold between 90% - 100% in growth assets. These are for those looking for strong, long-term growth and are willing to stick to their fund regardless of extreme fluctuations in their balance. Much like the Growth fund, it's best to stick to this fund for at least ten years before withdrawing money.

Subscribing to a KiwiSaver fund also gives you access to these useful perks:

Tax credit

In the good old days (from up until 30 June 2011), the Government previously gave a total tax credit of up to $1,042.86 per year. Since then, it has now been reduced to a maximum of $521.43, which is still a fair bit of money. However, to receive this tax credit automatically, you must contribute at least $1,042.86 per year. In other words, the Government will pay 50 cents for every dollar you contribute to your KiwiSaver, up to a maximum of $521.43.

Employer contributions

If you are eligible, your employer will also contribute 3% of your salary towards your Kiwisaver fund.

Buying your first home

You can also withdraw from your KiwiSaver savings to help your buy your first home as long as you fit the following requirements:

  1. You have been a KiwiSaver member for at least three years
  2. The house you are purchasing is going to be used as your home and not an investment property
  3. You leave at least $1,000 from your KiwiSaver account after withdrawing your money

KiwiSaver Home Start Grant

After contributing for at least 3 years to your KiwiSaver, you also get access to two types of HomeStart grants from Housing New Zealand:

  1. A $3,000 - $5,000 grant for purchasing an existing home. The value of the grant is based on the number of years you have been contributing to your KiwiSaver account ($1,000 each year).
  2. A $6,000 - $10,000 grant for building or purchasing a new home. The value of the grant is based on the number of years you have been contributing to your KiwiSaver account ($2,000 each year).

Subscribing to KiwiSaver is a commitment that lasts longer than your typical relationship and is a significant factor towards our future financial security. So, why not take the time to understand what it really is you are getting yourself into?

Find out which KiwiSaver fund works best for you

Our KiwiSaver calculator can help you compare different schemes so you can find out which one best suits your lifestyle.