Women are yet to catch up to men when it comes to salaries and super savings1, but this shouldn’t stop you from taking control of your finances. Discover some steps you can put in place today that can help improve your financial position in the future.
Unique challenges women face
Women continue to make great strides towards equality in the boardroom, the workplace and many parts of the economy that were once male dominated.
However, you may still face specific challenges when it comes to putting money aside for the future. These include:
Taking time out of the workforce
Although women make up almost half of the overall workforce, they account for two-thirds of part-time employees2. Part-time work allows women to juggle household responsibilities, which include raising children, looking after older family members, or provides more time to study. However, others may be working part time as they’re unable to secure a full-time role after taking time off to have children, or when moving between jobs. Working part time often means earning less, which can lead to lower employer-paid super contributions.
Juggling day-to-day demands
It‘s likely your multitasking skills have been put to the test over the past couple of years as the COVID-19 pandemic saw many women juggling even more balls, with work and schooling transferred into the home. This was on top of any existing household management and caring responsibilities.
Even with both partners working from home, women were still picking up more of the domestic workload than men3. On top of this, 35% of households with preschool or school-aged children had voluntarily chosen to keep their kids home from schools due to COVID-194. For some women, this meant taking leave or working reduced hours to support home schooling and provide additional childcare.
Time spent running the household or caring for family can then mean focus is put more on daily expenses than long-term planning like estate planning, investing in the share market and reviewing your super savings for retirement, which could disadvantage you in the future.
- 35% of households with children in school or care had kept their children home because of COVID-19
- both men and women commonly put the money they received from the Coronavirus Supplement and JobKeeper Payment towards paying household bills5
Lower salaries and super
Women are paid around 14% less than men overall6 and retire with on average $70,000 less super7. However, women, on average, also live around four years longer8 than men and therefore usually need more savings to support them during those additional years.
Here are some steps you can take to get financially fitter and get on top of your longer-term savings.
Six ways to take control of your finances
Set personal goals
Just like life goals, make sure your financial goals are clearly defined, measurable and attainable. If they're linked with family goals (eg buying a 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, set savings goals, check on current spending, and examine accounts to make sure your current savings are working for you.
Get on top of your 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 some safety nets
Even if you feel secure in your job, there’s always the risk of money challenges, including divorce, separation, redundancy, or even illness or death of a loved one. One way to reduce these risks is by setting up some safety nets. This could include, establishing a will and making sure it’s updated after key life events, developing an estate plan to provide instruction of how you’d like your assets distributed after death, and making sure you’re appropriately insured.
Establishing an emergency savings fund can also provide you with an umbrella ready to unfurl on a future rainy day. Remember, as you age and as your priorities change, it’s a good idea to check in on your insurance, will and estate plan to make sure they’re still in line with your needs.
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 investors9. They take time to consider their investment options and see if any ventures offer promising returns.
Understanding the basics of investing is one way you can start thinking about building towards a stronger financial future.
1, 7 The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA), SuperGuru, Women and Super, viewed 20 February 2022
2 Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), Gender Workplace Statistics at a Glance, August 2021
3 University of Melbourne, Work and Care in the Time of COVID-19, viewed 23 February 2022
4, 5 Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), Gendered Impact of COVID-19, October 2020
5 Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), Gender Workplace Statistics at a Glance, August 2021
6 Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), Australia’s Gender Pay Gap Statistics, August 2021
8 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, viewed 20 February 2022
9 UNSW Business School: Sorry guys, but women make better investors than men, 16 Jan 2018
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