KiwiSaver strategy for every life stage

By MAS Team | 27 May 2022

When you become a member of a KiwiSaver scheme, you get to make a few decisions about how to use the scheme. You can choose a provider - like a manager associated with a bank, or an independent investment firm. You can also choose how much you want to contribute from your pay and pick the level of risk you want to go with.  

But if you’ve been in KiwiSaver for a long time, the approach you went with when you signed up might not be working for you anymore. In fact, you might be at a completely different life stage, which comes with different financial goals too. We’ve put together a guide to how you might want to approach KiwiSaver depending on where you’re at in life, and at which points you should review your investment strategy.  

KiwiSaver for students  

While you’re studying, buying a home or retiring are probably the last thing on your mind. But it’s a great idea to have a KiwiSaver account and contribute what you can while you’re at uni. This is because the more years you have of earning returns on your investments, the more wealth you can build without even trying. And as every dollar you contribute each year up to $1,042.86 will earn you an extra 50c from the Government (up to a maximum of $541.23), it’s definitely worth aiming for that threshold for a 50% return on investment.  

See if you can put a little money into your KiwiSaver account regularly - even a few dollars a week or that $100 that granny gave you for your birthday is a solid contribution to your future.  

Student putting together a budget on laptop

KiwiSaver for your first job 

So you’ve graduated and you’ve landed your first job - congrats! You’ll be automatically enrolled into a KiwiSaver scheme when you start work (if you aren’t already a member). Consider opting into a higher KiwiSaver contribution rate. The default is 3% of your salary, but you can also choose 4%, 6%, 8% or 10% of your pay. Your employer will also contribute 3% to your KiwiSaver account.  

When you’re getting established early in your career, you could consider choosing a higher rate to make sure you’re starting saving early. That extra percentage point of salary is a small sacrifice in the short term, but it could make a big difference when it comes time to buy a house or retire.  

KiwiSaver for first home-buyers 

KiwiSaver is a great way to save towards your first home, and you can withdraw all but $1,000 of your KiwiSaver balance (and any transfers from an Australian super scheme) toward your first home or land. KiwiSaver has some built-in benefits to help make it easier to save - like the Government contribution and employer top-up - and because you can generally only withdraw your money for a first home or for retirement, there’s little chance of you giving into temptation to take out your money early.

If you’re planning on making a first home withdrawal in the next few years, you might want to move to a lower-risk fund in a KiwiSaver scheme. While this could mean less long-term gains, it’ll also help protect your balance against any downfalls in the market that could dent your deposit.  

Couple in first home

KiwiSaver for parents 

Going on parental leave, or moving from full-time to part-time hours, can also affect your KiwiSaver contributions. If your income is decreasing or being put on hold for a while, have a think about how to keep your savings on track.  

If you’re on paid parental leave, your regular KiwiSaver contributions and your employer top-up will stop. You can keep contributing if you want to, but you’ll have to manage this yourself with your KiwiSaver scheme provider. Some people’s partners make contributions to their KiwiSaver account for them while they’re on parental leave, while others save up in advance so they can keep contributing while they’re not working. Even saving the minimum amount to receive the maximum Government contribution is worthwhile if it’s within your means. 

You can also consider whether you want to get your kids started off on the right financial foot (before they’re even walking) by setting up KiwiSaver accounts for them. Fees can vary, so it’s worth doing some research and finding a fund that works for your wee one. Even if you can only contribute a small amount, they’ll thank you for it later.  

Family holding piggy bank

KiwiSaver for a promotion 

As you move up the career ladder or you land a pay rise, you should think about whether you should be contributing more to your KiwiSaver account. If you increase your contributions by a couple of percentage points at the same time as your pay packet increases, you probably won’t even notice the impact on your take-home pay, but you’ll definitely notice the boost to your KiwiSaver balance in the future. 

KiwiSaver for retirement 

If you’re getting closer to 65, it’s worth checking that your retirement plans are on track. In your 50s, you should take stock of your finances, see how your KiwiSaver balance and any other investments stack up, and make sure that you’re going to be able to pay for the kind of retirement you want. If it looks like you’ll be falling short, there’s still time to boost your balance over the next decade by upping your contribution rate or making extra lump sum contributions.  

Your 65th birthday is cause for celebration - not only are you now eligible for NZ Super (and that glorious discounted public transport) but you can also access your KiwiSaver investment.  

There are a few different ways you can approach this. You can withdraw all your money at once, make regular withdrawals to cover costs, or leave all the money in your KiwiSaver account earning returns until you need it. And if you decide to keep working, you can even keep contributing – although you won’t necessarily continue to be entitled to the employer or Government contributions after age 65.  

MAS offers a free financial review to make sure your finances suit your life stage and goals. Call 0800 800 627 to talk to your MAS adviser. 

Medical Funds Management Limited is the issuer and manager of the MAS KiwiSaver Scheme.  The PDS for the scheme is available at

MAS only provides advice on products offered by its subsidiary companies. Advice is provided by MAS or by its nominated representatives (who are all MAS employees). Our financial advice disclosure statement is available on our website or by calling 0800 800 627.

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