The 5 life stages of KiwiSaver

As you get older it's important to review your KiwiSaver account to make sure your settings best suit your savings goals.



section image

Understanding the 5 life stages of KiwiSaver can help you pre-empt the key times you might need to update factors like your contribution rate or fund type, or even talk to a KiwiSaver adviser.

1. Under 18's

While KiwiSaver was initially designed as a retirement savings scheme for employed Kiwi adults over 18 years, many parents are choosing to open and contribute to KiwiSaver accounts for their children under 18 years. The things to think about if you’re considering this include:

  • - The main benefit of opening a KiwiSaver account for someone under 18 years is the “time in the market” that their investment will have, and the compounding returns they could earn over the years. This can give Kiwi kids a brilliant start on saving for their first-home, thanks to their financially savvy parents.
  • - Starting young can also be a good way to teach kids about saving and investing.
  • - However, it’s important to note that Kiwis under 18 years are not eligible for the Government Contribution and even if they are employed, the employer contribution is optional - although some employers will choose to make the extra 3% contribution, so it would pay for your teen to ask if their employer, as every little bit helps!

2. Young people: Working first jobs or students

The next stage when most Kiwis open a KiwiSaver account and start contributing is when they start working in their first jobs. These Kiwis are usually relatively young and will generally have a long investment timeframe ahead of them.

  • - If you’re in this stage, consider your investment time frame – are you looking to buy a first home, or is this simply for your retirement? If you have at least 8 years before you’d like to buy into the property market, then consider investing in a more aggressive fund, like a growth fund. This is a pivotal time to build up savings for your first home.
  • - Once you turn 18 this is also when the government contributions start to kick in, so make sure you contribute enough to claim the annual $521 Government Contribution.

3. First Home Buyers

This is the stage where Kiwis have been contributing to their KiwiSaver account for some time and are starting to think about using their savings to help buy their first home. While we always recommend speaking to an expert KiwiSaver adviser at this stage, some general things to consider include:

  • - Make sure your KiwiSaver account is set up with your first-home goal in mind – a growth fund may no longer be appropriate, and you may be better off in a conservative fund.
  • - It could be good to increase your contributions at this time.
  • - Investigate the government’s $10k first home grant which can also be added to your deposit if eligible.
  • - Once your first home is bought and mortgage payments are underway – don’t be tempted to opt out of contributions! Getting straight back into a growth fund can make sure you’re on track to save for the next stage.

4. Setting up for retirement success

This stage kicks in after a first-home withdrawal has been made – or is appropriate for Kiwis who don’t intend on using their KiwiSaver account to help buy their first home. These Kiwis are in it for the long haul! What you do now will determine the kind of retirement you will have.

Again, it’s time to consider increasing your contributions if you can afford it – as you have time in the market to maximise compounding returns. As you get closer and closer to retirement age (65 years) it’s generally recommended that you adjust your fund choice to be more conservative to mitigate global fluctuations. We recommend getting professional advice every few years to check in on your KiwiSaver account settings, to make sure your investment is still best set up for your age and stage.

5. Retirees

The final stage – all your investing pays off, time to reap the seeds you’ve sown! At 65 years Kiwis are able to withdraw their KiwiSaver savings as and when they like – but you don’t have to draw down the full amount all at once, as any dollar you leave in your account will continue to work for you.

- Consider leaving some invested and drawing down a ‘weekly sum’ - like paying yourself a weekly wage.

- Get advice – to help determine the best way to set up your KiwiSaver account moving forward into your twilight years.

If you'd like to speak to a Generate KiwiSaver adviser about your KiwiSaver account, feel free to contact our friendly team at