How Pokemon GO can make your savings grow (it’s a stretch we know)

what pokemon go and kiwisaver have in common commission for financial capability v2

It’s hard to go anywhere at the moment without bumping, literally, into someone on the street, office, or harbour for that matter, playing Pokemon GO.

Two of our staff at the Commission are hooked, even catching Zubats and Tentacools flying around the office, as the rest of us look on baffled. Don’t worry - they are doing it during their lunch break!

If you think the names sound like a foreign language then you’re not alone. It’s like any club that you’re not a part of: there’s jargon that you might not understand and your care factor is probably low. You can see people are getting something out of it, but there are other things you’d rather do.

Which brings me nicely to KiwiSaver. More than two and a half million people are members, but many of those who aren’t enrolled find the whole subject dull and possibly a little tricky to understand what all the fuss is about.

But like the Pokemon craze, there are good reasons to get involved.

For some people it’s a case of nostalgia. They played Pokemon when they were kids and the hype around the new game has taken them straight back to more carefree times.

If you’re one of those people who used to take your pocket money into school every week, hand over your bank book and watch the balance grow, then if you sign up to KiwiSaver you might find it brings back a few warm memories too. Join up, decide how much you want to save then sit back and wait for the glow that comes when your annual statement appears in the mail or your inbox.

Thirty million people around the world have downloaded the Pokemon app in just two weeks and if you ask them why it’s partly because the game is easy and it gives a sense of reward for your hard work.

KiwiSaver was made that way too: when you start a new job you’re automatically enrolled. But if you don’t work or are self-employed it’s nearly as simple. Hop onto Sorted’s KiwiSaver fundfinder page to help you find out what sort of investor you are; you’ll be given a choice of funds, pick one that sounds good, contact the company that runs it and they’ll help you do the rest.

Wade, the Commission’s graphic designer, has got pretty handy at racking up the rewards on Pokemon, he loves the sense of achievement he gets and to hear him talk about medals you’d think he was aiming for the Olympics.

But he’s also pretty savvy about the rewards from KiwiSaver. As well as the money he puts in each fortnight, the Commission as his employer adds another 3%, then the government chips in once a year with a very welcome $521 Member Tax Credit – that’s 50 cents from them for every dollar he has saved up to $1,043.

Even he’ll admit that real money is better than Pokemon medals. Just.

I work with another Pokemon pro, who’s too shy for me to name here, but who loves it because it’s almost impossible to cheat. And that’s precisely what I love about KiwiSaver. It was set up to help you save for your retirement. You could do it yourself by putting your money in a standard savings account, but how many of us would be tempted to tap into that account when we wanted a holiday or a new TV? I suspect I’d fritter mine on seeing my favourite bands.

But with KiwiSaver the temptation is removed. You can use the money to help buy your first home or if you are in severe financial hardship, but otherwise it stays put so you can enjoy a better future after 65.

Our office Pokemon trainers tell me they are excited about the prospect of the game evolving in the future and becoming even better.

We’d like the same thing to happen to KiwiSaver so we have come up with eight suggestions as part of a review of retirement income policies. We hope some of them will make it easier and more appealing for you to sign up if you aren’t a member yet.

Whether you are or not, have a look, see what you think and let us know by completing our survey. And if you want any tips about Pokemon, our Commission pair may be able to help you with that too.


By David Boyle