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SASS Wise

Money wisdom, tips and insights from the SASS community.

Our poll from the last edition revealed that since recent events such as the bushfires and COVID-19, 60% of SASS members feel motivated to contribute more to charity or local community. Whatever good intentions you have for the year ahead, how will you make them happen?

In this edition, we cover how to turn intention into action, reveal money advice from our very own SASS community and share  SASS online resources that can help you kick some goals this year.


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5 ways to turn intention into action

Most of us begin a new year with good intentions. The trouble with intentions, is that they don’t always translate into action. When it comes to money or any other area in our lives, often it’s our hardwired habits that prevent us from making progress.

1. Understand what’s really driving you

Our habits are deeply ingrained in us, which is why they are so easy to fall back on. This is great when the habits are taking us in the direction we want. Not so great when it’s a habit we want to change.

According to Curtin University2, to create lasting change, you need to be clear about your intrinsic motivation. If the desire to change a habit is coming from someone else, for example your partner or children, it’s unlikely to stick. Finding the ‘why’ behind the change you want to make will increase your chances of staying the course and creating lasting change.

One way to uncover your intrinsic motivation, is to keep asking why. Why do you want to achieve that specific goal? And when you get that answer, ask why you want that. And so on. Eventually, you’ll get to what’s really driving you. Visual reminders that remind you of your why can also help. For example, if your intrinsic motivation to get better with money is financial independence, think about what images might help you remember your bigger goal.

2. Make a commitment to someone else

Have you ever wondered why people pay a lot of money for a personal trainer? As humans, we would much rather let ourselves down than someone else. When we make a commitment to someone else, we feel more responsibility to deliver on it.

In fact, according to the American Society of Training and Development, making a commitment to someone and appointing an ‘accountability partner’ increases your chances of success by 65%3. If you make your commitment a reoccurring one, your chances of success can rise to a staggering 95%.

3. Write down your goals

If you’re not big on keeping a journal or diary, now could be the time to start. One well-known study by the Dominican University in California found that writing down your goals can increase your chances of success by 42%4.

The simple act of writing down your goal can serve two purposes. It can help you get clear on exactly what you want to achieve. And it can trigger your brain to get into ‘solution-mode’ and start thinking about the ways you might achieve your goal.

4. Work towards your goal with tiny habits

When it comes to starting something new, small steps can make a big impact. According to the popular Tiny Habits method by world-renowned behaviour scientist and Stanford University director BJ Fogg5, starting with baby steps and building on from there can help you create major life changes in any aspect of your life.

Achieving even the smallest of steps can provide satisfaction and motivation to keep going. They act as a training ground for building up to the change you really want to make. One of the worst things you can do for your chances of success is tackle something that is not realistic or practical for you to achieve.

5. Build new habits around your existing routine

The idea of tiny habits can also be applied to ‘habit stacking’. According to habits expert James Clear, the best way to build new habits, is to ‘stack’ them onto your existing routine6. Using your existing routine to trigger a new action or habit has been found to be a highly effective strategy.

Aside from associating the new habit with things you already do, the very nature of identifying the habit you want to stack, forces you to get very specific about what smaller actions you can start with.

Bringing these ideas into everyday life

Now you’ve heard the theory, how could these ideas work in real life? We’ve included some examples below:

Your goal Technique Example
Contributing more to Super this year (for example, by topping up your SASS benefit with additional contributions to another Super fund). Finding your why Think about what your intrinsic motivation might be. Could it be financial security, or perhaps it’s so you can plan the sea change you’ve always wanted?
Tiny habits Consider talking to an Aware Super financial planner to look at your projected retirement savings and see the impact that additional contributions could have on your lifestyle in retirement.
Get on top of your finances this year Tiny habits Download the Financial Health Check for SASS members and discover what you can do to kick start your progress.
Find out more about the SASS scheme Make a commitment Register to attend a SASS webinar or SASS seminar with a family member or friend
Get your estate planning done Write it down Write your goal down on a post-it note or in your journal. Try to be as specific as possible.
Sticking to your savings and spending goals Habit stacking Make your saving automatic - if you pay your bills by direct debit, set up a direct debit for your savings too. If you like to compare prices, use the same approach with your money – credit cards, insurance and mortgage refinance.

Once we start taking action we create a positive cycle for ourselves. We feel good about getting things done so we’re motivated to get more ticked off the to do list. Give yourself a reward for completing the items on your list. It can be as simple as giving yourself half an hour off for a cup of tea once you’re done.

 
  

What would your future-self tell you today?

Insight is a wonderful thing. We bring you insights from SASS members on what advice they would give their future-selves now.

Advice from your future self

After the year we had in 2020, planning for a secure future seems more important than ever. And when it comes to making better choices for health and happiness, we might find ourselves wishing for the benefit of hindsight. So who better to ask for advice than people who have reached the other side of retirement?

To tap into the wisdom that comes from lived experience, we recently asked SASS members what advice they would offer their younger selves. Read on to learn what we discovered.

1. Let go and enjoy life

The idea of enjoying what you have, here and now was very important to our SASS members. One of the most common pieces of advice we heard was ‘let go’. Not holding grudges was an essential element in a more carefree approach to life. With this in mind, perhaps 2021 could be a good time to slow down, pause and reflect on what really matters to you. This kind of thinking can also help you get clearer on what you enjoy doing, making way for better choices about how you spend your time.

2. Don’t put off planning for retirement

While your attitude to life is important to enjoying it, our SASS members agreed that finances play a vital role in getting the most out of life. That’s why they would advise their younger selves to get on the front foot with retirement planning. Research shows that many Australians agree with this slice of wisdom.

A survey by ASIC found that 41% of respondents said they plan to seek financial advice in the future1. But in spite of these good intentions, many put off getting advice because they think it will be expensive or they don’t have enough in savings to make it worthwhile.

The good news is that as a SASS member you have access to financial planning professionals. Our planners are SASS scheme experts who can help you make the most of your super and retirement.

3.  Stay connected

2020 has reminded us how much our connections to people matter. This is something SASS members singled out as being essential advice for their younger selves to follow, starting now. Nurturing friendships, keeping in touch and spending time with family, especially ageing parents, were some of their most important priorities.

Research also backs this up with evidence that there is a strong link between a good social life and better mental health. According to the Victorian government’s Better Health channel, better social connections are associated with lower rates of anxiety and depression, higher self-esteem, greater empathy, and more trusting and cooperative relationships. Strong, healthy relationships can also help to boost your immune system, recover from disease, and may even lengthen your life. 

Investing in better relationships can be as simple as reaching out to friends, colleagues or family. Taking time to give someone a call or send an email now and again can bring you closer, even if you don’t have the opportunity to see them.

4. Look after your health

Support for your social life and mental health is just one way to look after yourself as you age. Our SASS members also brought up a whole range of important health and wellbeing tips, from applying sunscreen to good nutrition and regular exercise.

As well as following these simple guidelines for keeping your body healthy, taking steps to support your financial wellbeing as you age is also a great way to look after yourself. And planning for a time when you have less capacity to care for yourself can also bring better wellbeing outcomes as well as peace of mind. One thing we know from our Aware Super Aged Care experts is that it’s never too soon to start talking about Aged Care whether for yourself or ageing parents.

Great conversations can come from asking your friends and family what advice they would give their younger selves – whatever age they are now. Next time you’re catching up, face-to-face or on a video call, why not try it and see what you find out about each other and what’s important to you.

 
  

Online resources for SASS members

If one of your intentions this year is to get on top of your finances, download this useful quick guide for SASS members.

Download the quick guide

Questions from the SASS community

Q. I’m a 59 year old SASS member and I’ve got a loose plan to retire when I’m 62 when I’ll be close to 180 points. Is there anything extra I should be doing now to prepare for retirement, or should I just wait until I’m much closer to my retirement date to decide what to do with my SASS retirement benefit?

Achieving close to the maximum 180 accrued points before you retire is a great outcome and goes a long way to ensuring you are maximising how much your employer contributes to your final benefit. Two important questions to consider now can help you make sure you are doing everything you can to maximise your SASS benefit.

1. Are you making the maximum level of contribution that you can afford into your SASS scheme?

In simple terms, an increase in your contributions gives you the ability to increase the benefits you will receive when you exit SASS. You have the option to contribute between 1% and 9% of your salary to SASS.

Check your most recent SASS statement for the amount of accrued points you have and whether they are equal to the maximum points available. If this is the case, and you are currently contributing at least 6% of your salary per year, then you are on track to continuing to maximise your accrued points.

If you check your SASS statement and it shows that your accrued points are below the maximum points available, and you are not contributing up to the 9% maximum contribution level per year from your salary, then you should consider making some changes.

2. Are you checking that your superable salary is maximised?

Your superable salary is your annual base salary, plus certain allowances and payments. Your superable salary is very important because it determines the amount your employer will contribute towards your final benefit. This calculation will be based on your final average salary which looks at the final three salaries that your employer will report to SASS, your final day at work, and the final day (31 December) of the previous two years.

It’s really important to ensure that you do everything you can to not allow your superable salary to reduce before retirement. Any reduction will result in you receiving a reduced benefit, which can be a significant loss.

Your superable salary includes allowances that are generally paid to an employee while on annual leave or long service leave, plus loading for shift work. Some allowances and payments are specifically excluded, including overtime, bonuses, expenses and travelling allowances.

An Aware planner can help you understand how your final benefit will be calculated and how to make sure you maximise your superable salary and make sure your retirement date doesn’t negatively impact your final benefit.

 


Q. I’m 57 and a deferred member in SASS. I’d like to save on fees in my super. Should I consolidate my super or are there advantages to leaving my SASS deferred account separate from the rest of my super?

As a SASS member, and a member of a defined benefit scheme, you need to carefully consider how your retirement benefit will be affected, before you make any decisions around consolidating your super. These will include the SASS scheme rules, your age, the value of your benefit and fee and tax implications.

For example, if you decided to roll your super out of your SASS deferred account, and requested a release of your SASS benefit before the SASS eligible retirement age (which is generally 58, however for some older predecessor schemes it can be 55), you can be at a significant disadvantage.

In this case, you would only receive the benefit that that had accrued on your original resignation or dismissal date, adjusted for market movements. This benefit is generally significantly less than the amount you would be entitled to if you stayed with SASS and had reached the SASS eligible retirement age. Exceptions to this would be if you suffered total and permanent incapacity, financial hardship or if there were compassionate grounds or death that applied to you.

If you have reached your SASS eligible retirement age and request to roll your super out, or apply for a release of your SASS benefit, the decision on whether to consolidate your super savings depends on a range of factors including comparing costs between the funds you are looking to consolidate, investment options and the support available to you as a member. Fees will be a particularly important consideration given the SASS low fee structure you already have in place.

It is important to note that any benefit released to you from your SASS account, will still be subject to the Commonwealth’s compulsory benefit preservation rules. This means that your benefit will need to meet the normal superannuation access rules before you can access the funds.

It can be in your best interests to leave your SASS deferred benefit account separate from the rest of the super. Before you make any decisions, you should consult a SASS scheme expert. Aware planners are experts in SASS and can help you navigate these important decisions.

 

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