the kiwisaver flowchart

Step 1: add to ks
The picture needs prettification, but I’m sure it will do for now. 
$1050 is actually $1042.86, which gets you a 50% Member Tax Credit into your Kiwisaver from the government. Straight up, that’s an immediate 50% return on your contribution, nothing to sniff at. Similarly, if your employer will match Kiwisaver contributions, it’s almost a 100% return on your investment (the difference is due to taxes, but don’t worry, employer contributions are taxed the same or lower than your salary), for a total of almost 150% return immediately with no risk. That’s an absolutely amazing number, it is. 

step 2: manage ks

a) who’s your provider – choose a low-fee provider, because on average nobody’s beating the market in Kiwisaver, and so minimising fees maximises your return. 

b) what’s your fund – there are many factors that go into this, so don’t take the following as gospel but only as a guideline. 

If you’re:
(i) planning for a first home withdrawal in the next year or two
(ii) in significant financial hardship and going to try for a hardship withdrawal soon
(iii) retiring in <5 years, and will be at or over 65 when you retire
go with a moderate fund, switching to conservative once you get within about 6 months to a year of your withdrawal timeline. 

Otherwise, your timeline is long enough to sit in a growth fund. 

step 3: withdraw ks for use

In short: you can withdraw your Kiwisaver freely after you turn 65 (unless you’ve joined between 60-65, in which case it’s 5 years after joining). Other reasons to withdraw are to buy a first home, or due to hardship. Technically, if you’re buying a house with it, the MTC is supposed to remain in your Kiwisaver; but if you changed Kiwisaver providers at some point, they don’t necessarily keep track that way and you can possibly get it out. 

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