It was Carrie Bradshaw, of Sex and the City fame, who said: ‘I like my money where I can see it – hanging in my closet.’
While that might sound trite, it’s not far from the truth for many women. Most of us are more comfortable dealing with day-to-day money and the tangible things it can be used for, than longer-term financial investments, such as super, which seem to exist only on an annual statement.1
By contrast, research has found men are more likely to hoard their money than women2, and enjoy seeing their long-term finances accumulate.
But by using the knowledge that comes from managing day-to-day money, women, too, can take control of their financial future.
The relationship women have with money
Contrary to popular opinion, most women don’t lack confidence when dealing with money – in fact, more than 50% of women across all age groups describe themselves as very organised in managing everyday money.3
The majority of women list providing for the day-to-day needs of their family as their top money priority, followed by providing for their children’s educational costs, having a comfortable retirement, living life to the fullest and saving for a holiday.4
The disadvantages women face
Having a comfortable retirement is high up among women’s money priorities5, but as most women would know they face some unique challenges to building an adequate retirement nest egg.
Among full-time workers, men in Australia earn around $17,000 more than women each year in their base salary, but this extends to $27,000 when assessing total remuneration, including super, overtime, bonus payments and other discretionary pay.6
The result of these lower earnings – along with women taking time out of the workforce to raise children or to look after ageing parents – is that at retirement age, women have less super on average than men: $180,013 compared with $321,993.7
In fact, across all age groups, Australian men have more super, and a quarter of women have no super savings at all.8
How to take action
Luckily, you don’t need to be a financial expert to address this imbalance. And research has shown that women in general have a great deal of resilience in overcoming financial challenges.9
There are some easy steps you can take by adapting behaviors from your day-to-day money management, to get some small wins for your financial future.
Check your super balance
If part of your regular money routine is to stay on top of your account balances, you can do the same with your super balance.
Most funds let you check your balance online - if your super’s with AMP then login to My AMP via desktop or the app to see how much you’ve got.
Do a lost super search
If you’re on a tight budget where every dollar counts, you’d want to find any extra money belonging to you, right?
The same situation can apply to your super, as you may have lost super sitting in an account you’ve forgotten about from previous jobs. Search for lost super to boost your retirement savings here.
Consolidate your super
Just as you probably wouldn’t set up multiple savings accounts to save for the same holiday, it doesn’t make much sense to have multiple super funds.
Consolidating your super will make managing it easier and may also reduce the amount you pay in fees.
Consider topping up
Once you know your super balance you can determine whether you’re on track to have the kind of retirement you want. Our super simulator can also help with this.
If you decide you want to give your super a boost, consider setting up a salary sacrifice. Salary sacrifice is an easy, set-and-forget way to add to your super, with the money coming directly out of your before-tax pay.
Before-tax super contributions are generally taxed at 15% and because this is typically lower than most people’s personal income tax rate, it may be possible to reduce what you pay in tax.
You can nominate the amount you want to contribute, either as a one-off payment or from each pay, and it can be arranged by your employer’s payroll office. It can also be easily cancelled at any time should your financial circumstances change.
By adopting these tools it’s easier to take control of your financial future. Or for more help you can check out the Women’s Money Toolkit at www.moneysmart.com.au, which provides tips and tools to help you manage your money across a range of life stages, such as buying a home, starting a family, caring for elderly relatives, preparing for retirement and even following the loss of a partner.
But if you’d like the help of an expert in managing your long-term finances, speak to your financial adviser. If you don’t have an adviser, you can find one in your area using our easy search tool.
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Saving for a realistic target for retirement makes it more of a molehill rather than a mountain to be climbed.