How to grow your super balance

You can grow your super using salary sacrificing, by changing your investments and making extra contributions.

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It's important to make sure you're actively growing your super balance while you're still working, because a higher superannuation balance means you'll be less reliant on the age pension. It may also allow you to retire earlier. Thankfully, there are several different ways to grow your super balance. Not only will you retire with more, but there are also tax benefits to growing your super that you can enjoy while you're still working.

The first step is to make sure you've got your money in a super fund with low fees and strong past performance figures.

Compare superannuation funds

Name Product Last 1 year performance (p.a.) Last 3 year performance (p.a.) Last 5 year performance (p.a.) Last 10 year performance (p.a.) Fees on $50k balance (p.a.)

Spaceship GrowthX

Spaceship GrowthX
+23.41%
+15.25%
New Fund
New Fund
$536
This is a high-risk investment option that aims to deliver high returns over the long term.
Spaceship's GrowthX fund invests heavily in technology ETFs with high exposures to Australian and international shares. Performance figures and fees supplied by Spaceship, not Chant West.

Sunsuper Lifecycle Balanced

Finder Award
Sunsuper Lifecycle Balanced
+20.62%
+8.77%
+9.84%
+9.06%
$558
Sunsuper is an award-winning super fund with more than 1.4 million members. Its Lifecycle Balanced option invests your super in a mix of growth assets, and reduces your risk when you're near retirement.

Australian Ethical Super Balanced

Green Company
Australian Ethical Super Balanced
+17.96%
+10.33%
+9.67%
+9.01%
$622
Certified by the Responsible Investment Association Australasia.
Australian Ethical seeks to invest in companies that have a positive impact on the planet, people and animals, such as renewable energy and healthcare while avoiding investments in coal, oil, tobacco and gambling.

AustralianSuper - Pre-mixed, Balanced option

Finder Award
AustralianSuper - Pre-mixed, Balanced option
+20.46%
+9.6%
+10.46%
+9.74%
$476
AustralianSuper is an award-winning industry super fund and the largest super fund in Australia. The Balanced fund invests in a mix of different assets like shares, property and cash.

QSuper Lifetime - Aspire 1

QSuper Lifetime - Aspire 1
+17.11%
+9.02%
+8.61%
New Fund
$360
QSuper is one of the largest profit-for-members funds in Australia. QSuper Lifetime continually adjusts your investment mix in line with your age and your super account balance.

UniSuper Balanced

UniSuper Balanced
+17.6%
+9.23%
+9.55%
+9.55%
$326
UniSuper is an industry super fund and one of Australia's largest super funds with more than 450,000 members. Its Balanced option invests in a mix of different asset classes and has achieved consistently high returns for members.

Virgin Money Super - Lifestage Tracker

Virgin Money Super - Lifestage Tracker
+22.17%
+10.04%
New Fund
New Fund
$363
Virgin Money Super Lifestage Tracker has some of the lowest fees in the market. It invests in a range of different assets in line with your age, reducing your risk as you get older. Plus, you can earn Velocity Frequent Flyer Points when you rollover your super, and on the contributions you make (T&Cs apply).

Aware Super Growth

Aware Super Growth
+18.02%
+8.81%
+9.8%
+8.97%
$519
Aware Super is a not-for-profit fund with more than 750,000 members. The MySuper product invests your super in a pre-mixed Growth fund until you’re 60, then it’ll switch to Balanced.

Australian Catholic Super Lifetime - Grow

Australian Catholic Super Lifetime - Grow
+17.36%
+7.42%
New Fund
New Fund
$528
A Catholic super fund open to all Australians and designed for people working in Catholic education, healthcare or aged care.The Lifetime One fund option changes your investment mix as you get older.

Verve Super Balanced

Verve Super Balanced
+12.85%
New Fund
New Fund
New Fund
$691
Verve Super is an ethical super fund tailored for women. It seeks to invest in companies making a positive impact, such as renewable energy and women in leadership, while avoiding those that cause harm, such as fossil fuels, tobacco and guns.

Superhero Super Autopilot

Superhero Super Autopilot
+14.52%
+8.39%
New Fund
New Fund
$429
Superhero Super Autopilot allows you to invest up to 30% of your super in different themed ASX shares and ETFs, with at least 70% of your balance invested in the Vanguard Global Diversified Index Portfolio. Performance and fees are based on having 100% of your balance in the index portfolio.

AustralianSuper - Socially Aware

AustralianSuper - Socially Aware
+19.4%
+7.89%
+9.25%
+9.2%
$501
The AustralianSuper Socially Aware option doesn't invest in Australian or international companies that directly own coal and fossil fuel reserves, produce tobacco or those which have single-gender boards. Investment performance as of 30 June 2020.

Aware Super - Diversified Socially Responsible Investment

Aware Super - Diversified Socially Responsible Investment
+15.23%
+8.1%
+8.28%
+8.12%
$406
The Aware Super Diversified Socially Responsible Investment is a pre-mixed investment option that excludes companies operating in the tobacco, ammunition, gambling, alcohol, forest logging and pornography industries, as well as companies that attribute 20% or more of their revenue to coal, oil and gas.

Sunsuper - Socially Conscious Balanced

Sunsuper - Socially Conscious Balanced
+19.6%
+8.76%
+8.83%
+8.25%
$463
Certified by the Responsible Investment Association Australasia.
The Sunsuper Socially Conscious Balanced option avoids investment in companies that have significant exposure (more than 5% of revenue) to alcohol, tobacco, gambling, pornography, coal and nuclear power manufacturing. Investment performance as of 30 June 2020.

Australian Catholic Super Bonds

Australian Catholic Super Bonds
+0.65%
+5.04%
+3.92%
+4.1%
$488

Australian Catholic Super Conservative

Australian Catholic Super Conservative
+9.31%
+5.64%
+5.57%
+5.75%
$538
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Compare up to 4 providers

The information in the table is based on data provided by Chant West Pty Ltd (AFSL 255320) which is itself supplied by third parties. While such information is believed to be accurate, Chant West does not accept responsibility for any inaccuracy in such information. Chant West’s Financial Services Guide is available at https://www.chantwest.com.au/financial-services-guide . Finder offers no guarantees or warranties about the data and we recommend that users make their own enquiries before relying on this information. Performance, fees and insurance data is based on each fund's default MySuper product. Where the performance, fees and insurance data for the MySuper fund vary according to the member's age, results for individuals between 40-49 years of age have been shown. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.

*Past performance data is for the period ending June 2021.

Strategies to grow your superannuation

Here are six strategies for growing your super balance.

Opt for a low-fee, high-performing fund

Superannuation fees eat into your returns, so the more you pay in fees, the less you'll have left when you retire. Each super funds charges different annual admin fees, investment fees and indirect fees. This can make it a difficult and confusing process when you're trying to compare funds. As a general rule, if you're paying over 2% of your super balance in fees each year, this is considered expensive.

While past performance isn't an indicator of future performance, it's wise to look for a super fund with a long history of strong returns. To do this, take a look at the returns over 5- and 10-year periods. The better your fund performs, the higher your super balance will be.

Salary sacrifice into your super

You can elect to contribute a portion of your salary or wages into your super via the process of salary sacrifice. With this process, the money you elect to send into your super is directed from your income before you pay tax on it. This means that the money will be taxed at the concessional super rate of 15% instead of your marginal tax rate, which could be up to 45%. This means you'll be reducing your taxable income in the process. You can learn more about how this process works in our salary sacrificing guide.

Make extra contributions

Your employer is legally obligated to pay you super as part of the compulsory superannuation guarantee. However, you can also make additional contributions to your super at any point in the year. There are limits in place around how much you can contribute. Currently (as of 2019), you can contribute up to $25,000 in concessional contributions (these are pre-tax contributions like what your employer pays and money you contribute via salary sacrifice). You can also contribute another $100,000 a year in non-concessional contributions.

Accept more risk

Generally, the greater the risk, the greater the potential return. If you're comfortable, consider switching your investments to a higher-risk option. Most Australians are in the default super option, which is generally a Balanced or Growth option. Take a look at the High Growth option and see if you're comfortable switching to this, instead.

One of the best ways to get more from your super involves adopting an age-based investment strategy. This includes working out how much risk you can afford to take based on your years to retirement. Age is crucial because if you have longer to wait until your retirement, you'll have more time to recover from a major setback and can comfortably accept more risk.

Start early, make more

Starting to save from an early age can make a huge difference to how much you have when you retire, mainly due to the power of compounding. For example, if someone saved $10,000 a year for 20 years while someone else saved the same amount for 35 years, both earning a return of 6% a year, the 20-year compounding amount would generate $367,856 compared to the 35-year saver which would generate $1,114,348 – more than three times as much.

Combine your superannuation into one fund

If you have worked several jobs, chances are you have contributed to various funds that you may have lost track of. Take time to contact all your super funds and consolidate your superannuation into one fund. This way, you can stop paying multiple sets of super fees. If you have more than one super fund, read our guide on how to consolidate your super.

Pocket Money podcast: The superannuation gender gap and how to grow your super

It’s never too late to grow your super

A little sacrifice that you make today will allow you to live a more comfortable lifestyle when you're no longer working. Even if you're only a few years out from retirement, you'll still benefit from contributing more to your super via salary sacrifice or making extra personal contributions.

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