Women still lag behind men in a number of finance measures such as longer term super savings1. There are several reasons for this that are often out of a woman's control. However, women can try certain strategies to improve their financial situation.
What's holding women back financially?
Women have made great strides towards equality in the boardroom, the workplace and many parts of the economy that were once dominated by men.
However, many women face specific challenges putting money aside for the future. These include:
Juggling day-to-day demands
Caring for others and managing household activities can take up much of a woman's day, making it a challenge to balance work and family life. Even without kids of her own, a woman may spend time caring for other loved ones. Time spent running the household can mean focusing more on daily expenses than long-term planning.
Taking time out of the workforce
Close to half of employed females currently work part time, with those aged 25-44 indicating raising children or looking after family members as their main reason for not working full time2. Other major reasons include study commitments and the challenge of not always being able to secure full-time work. This often means earning less, which can lead to lower employer-paid super contributions.
Lower salaries and super
Women are paid around 14% less than men overall3 and retire with 28% less super4. However, women, on average, live around four years longer5 than men and therefore usually need more savings to live off for those additional years.
less pay than men
less super at retirement
years longer life
Here are some steps women can take to get financially fitter, and get on top of longer-term savings.
Six ways for women to start taking control of their finances
Set personal goals
Just like life goals, make sure financial goals are clearly defined, measurable and attainable. If they're linked with family goals (eg buying a bigger house), factor in your own financial safeguards too (such as being a co-signature on all assets).
Make time for money management
Juggling family life can leave little or no time for anything else. However, putting aside an hour a week to prioritise money management and savings could make a big difference in the long run. Use this time to make budgets, setting savings goals, checking on current spending, and examining accounts to make sure your current savings are working for you.
Get on top of super
Taking control of super today is future self-care. It may help provide more choices and opportunities when you’re no longer earning an income. Ask yourself 'how long will my super last?' and try our superannuation calculator to see how much you might need. You can also try completing a lost super search, consider consolidating super accounts, and think about making additional contributions to your super.
Have a safety net
Although 59% of employed women believe their job is secure6, there’s still the risk of challenges involving money, including divorce, separation, or illness. One way to reduce these risks is having a safety net. Establishing an emergency savings fund gives you an umbrella ready to unfurl on a future rainy day.
Know your market worth
Doing some online research into the market value of a role is a good way to understand the average income others are making in a similar position. This information can be used in future salary negotiations, or to spark a conversation about a pay increase if a review is overdue.
Consider investing for the future
Women who do invest tend to be more diligent at doing their homework and react less emotionally to market movements than male investors7.
They take time to consider their investment options and see if any ventures offer promising returns.
Understanding the basics of investing is one way women can start thinking about building towards a stronger financial future.
1, 3, 4 Financy Women’s Index, September 2019
2 Reserve Bank of Australia, The rising share of part time employment, bulletin, September Quarter 2017, page 21, graph 4 & 5.
5 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 17 July 2019
6 University of Sydney, Women and the future of work, 2018, p.43
7 UNSW Business School: Sorry guys, but women make better investors than men, 16 Jan 2018
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