14 March, 2023

How to talk to your (big) kids about super – the basics

We teach our kids a lot in life —reading, writing, sports, right and wrong, bad jokes. This list is almost endless.

But there is one topic most parents feel they could do better — teaching their kids about super.

According to research commissioned by the Australian Taxation Office, 9 out of 10 Australian parents think super education is important – but 1 in 5 don’t feel confident explaining super1.

But you don’t have to be a super expert to get your kids off to a super start. 

Here are three simple tips to help you talk superannuation with your (big) kids.

Starting strong with super

  1. Choose a fund that suits you.
  2. Download the app.
  3. Update your details.
  4. Think about putting extra in early.
  5. Check your balance once or twice a year.


1. Pick your time

Let’s be honest, most 18-year-olds aren’t interested in super. They have more important things to focus on, such as studying, hanging with mates, finding love, and going to parties (half their luck).

Humans also tend to prioritise things that’ll happen sooner. For the average young person, ‘retirement’ feels a million years away, so it’s natural they won’t see any advantage in thinking about it now. 

So, you’ve got to pick the right time to start talking about the big S.

The most obvious time is when they land their first ‘real’ job.

Whether they’re delivering pizzas, scanning groceries, stacking shelves or embarking on an apprenticeship, this is an exciting time full of possibilities and opportunities.

It’s also when they’ll encounter a few financial firsts — taxes and superannuation.

But don’t whip out the Super Guide the second they give you the good news. Let them enjoy the win and bask in the glory of conquering a significant life milestone.

But later, perhaps when they’re preparing for their first day, make a few polite enquiries. Ask, ‘Do you know which super fund you’ll join?’ or ‘Which super fund does your employer go with?’

Hopefully, this will spike their super interest.

2. Keep it simple

Their first question will most likely be, ‘What’s super?’

Fair enough.

At a glance, super can seem complicated, especially when we throw around terms like accumulation, co-contributions, concessional contributions, and investments.

But, at heart, super is a simple concept that doesn’t have to be overwhelming. So, focus on what your young person needs to know and do first.

What’s super?

Super is money put aside for your retirement.

Each pay, your employer puts a bit of your salary or wage into a super fund on your behalf, and your super fund invests it to help it grow over time. Then — when you’re in your sixties and stop working — you should have enough to enjoy the retirement you want. 

What do I need to do?

The first step is to choose which fund to join. You can nominate a super fund or open an account with your employer’s default fund.

Whichever fund you choose will follow you from job to job throughout your career (unless you decide to switch funds later).

Here are some tips to make sure you choose the right fund for you.

That’s it?

To begin with, yes. But there’s plenty of other things you can do stay connected with your super.

The first and easiest is to register to manage your super account online. For Spirit Super members, this means registering for Member Online and downloading the Spirit Super app.

Now you can view and manage your account online, any time. 

Next, update your contact details (through the app) so you stay in touch with your super.

Of course, these are just the first steps, but starting with a few easy wins helps build momentum. 

3. Explain the difference between super and tax

One of the biggest misconceptions about super is that it’s a tax. This is because, like tax, it’s taken out of your pay before it reaches your bank account.

So, when your young person reads their first pay slip and groans, ‘Oh my god! Why am I paying so much tax!?’ it might be a good time to explain the difference.

Again, we don’t need to overcomplicate things.

Tax is money that goes to the government to pay for things we all need now, like roads, hospitals, and schools.

Super is money put aside for things you need later, like supporting your financial needs in retirement, holidays, and enjoying life after work.

The key takeaway is that super is their money for their retirement. And even though they can’t access it for a long time, they have a lot of say over how it grows and gets invested.

As for taxes? Unfortunately, that’s just part of life. But there is a super silver lining — once they retire, they can withdraw their super tax-free.




1Teaching tax and super to youth, ATO


This is general information only and doesn’t take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before making a decision about Spirit Super, you should consider if this information is right for you and read our Product disclosure statements, Target market determinations and Financial services guide. These are available at spiritsuper.com.au/pds or by calling 1800 005 166.

Issuer is Motor Trades Association of Australia Superannuation Fund Pty Ltd (ABN 14 008 650 628, AFSL 238718), the trustee of Spirit Super (ABN 74 559 365 913). Any advice is provided by Quadrant First Pty Ltd (ABN 78 102 167 877, AFSL 284443) (Spirit Super Advice), which is wholly owned by the trustee.