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Four tips for women to take control of their super

Faced with average lower earnings, possible time out from the workforce to raise children, and longer life expectancy, it can be a struggle for women to save enough money in their super.

According to the 2017 HILDA survey, Australian women are retiring with an average superannuation balance of $230,907 while men are retiring with about twice this amount.1


But if you’re a woman earning an income, it’s never too late to play catch up. By looking at your super and taking action now, could make a difference over time to how much savings you have in super for retirement.

How much super should you be aiming for?

As a a guide, the Association of Superannuation funds of Australia (ASFA) calculates that to have a ‘comfortable’ retirement, single people will need $545,000 in retirement savings, and couples will need $640,000.2


To help make this become a reality, here’s some ways that you could future-proof your super and help give you peace of mind knowing you will have an income stream in retirement.

1. Get to know your super better – it’s your money
 

Superannuation, or 'super', is money set aside while you are working so that when you stop working it will provide you with an income in retirement.


If you are an employee, your employer should be making super contributions to a superannuation fund on your behalf. These payments, known as super guarantee contributions or concessional (before-tax) contributions, will be equivalent to 9.5 per cent of your salary or wages.


If you are self-employed, you will need to pay yourself super to provide for your retirement. You can make regular contributions or make lump sums less frequently, to suit your cash flow.


To get to know your super better, start by checking your balance regularly, along with the insurance and investment options you have to make sure they are the best fit for your circumstances.


Generally your super fund will send you a statement at the end of the financial year. This annual statement provides you with information about:

  • your balance
  • contributions made to your account during the year 
  • any insurance cover you have with the fund 
  • fees and perfomance

 

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) recommends that you check your employer is paying the correct amount of super on your behalf. If you are unsure how much your employer should be paying you can use the ATO’s Estimate my super tool. If your employer is not paying the correct amount you can report this to the ATO online.


Many super funds arrange life and disability cover for their members, for a fee. Having insurance can provide a good sense of security for you and your family.
 

It’s important that you know what cover you have as you might have similar cover under another type of policy. This might mean you are paying for the same cover twice, however you will not be able to claim twice.


When checking your statement you should take note of the fees. Super funds charge you fees for the services they provide.

2. Consolidate your super and save on fees

It’s a good idea to make sure all your super is in the same place. If you’ve changed jobs, different employers might have made your super guarantee payments to different funds over the years. This means you could have ‘lost super’ in accounts you’ve forgotten about.

 

If your super is in multiple funds, you also have to pay separate administration fees to each fund, which eats into your retirement savings.

 

On the other hand, if you roll over all your super into a single fund, you’ll not only save on fees but you’ll also find it easier to keep an eye on your money.

 

If you think you might have lost track of some super from past jobs, search for it online via the ATO website and consider consolidating it all into one fund to minimise fees.

 

Before making a decision to consolidate, it makes sense to compare the costs, risks and benefits of your other funds against your current super fund. You should also consider whether you will lose any existing insurance cover upon rolling over and also if cover you currently have will be sufficient in the future.

3. Contribute more and watch your super savings grow

Want to see your super grow faster? You can make payments into your super fund account in addition to the Super Guarantee 9.5 per cent that your employer pays on your behalf.


This could really boost your super over time, and can help you make up for periods when you are not working. Even small amounts could make a difference.


The different types of additional contributions that can be made to your super fund are:

  • Concessional (before-tax) super contributions – these are super contributions you make before you pay tax on them. They generally include:
    • Contributions made by your employer, such as Super Guarantee
    • Salary sacrifice payments you choose to make from your before-tax income
    • Personal concessional super contributions – for example, contributions you make if you’re self-employed.
  • Non-concessional (after-tax) super contributions – these are super contributions you make from sources that have already been taxed. They generally include:
    • Personal contributions from your take home pay or savings when no tax deduction has been claimed. Depending on your circumstances, you may be entitled to claim a tax deduction for the amount of the contribution, or you may be entitled to a government co-contribution.
    • Spouse contributions (payments your partner can make on your behalf) and they may be able to claim a tax offset on the contributions made to your fund. This is a good way to boost the retirement savings of a partner who earns less or has taken time out of the workforce to care for children.

 

However, be aware that the Federal Government applies monetary caps to the different types of contributions described above to limit the tax concessions associated with making super contributions. Some types of contributions if made in excess of these caps are subject to tax rates of up to 49 per cent.3

 

To find out more about super contributions caps, visit the ATO website.

4. Don’t forget your TFN, otherwise you may pay more tax

To confirm if your super fund has your tax file number (TFN), take a look at your super statement. If your TFN is not listed, contact your fund and give it to them.

 

The benefits of providing your fund with your TFN are:

  • your fund will pay less tax on employer contributions (and pass the savings on to you)
  • concessional contributions are generally only taxed at 15 per cent, which means you could lower your taxable income
  • you are less likely to lose track of a super account
  • you will not miss out on government super payments – for example, the government co-contribution if applicable
  • you will be able to make personal (after-tax) contributions to the fund.

 

Get started here by registering your tax file number.

Good advice can help

And remember, if you’re not sure about anything related to super, it makes sense to get help. You can start by talking to your super fund or if you want more complex advice, speak to a financial adviser.

 

Disclaimer
Colonial First State Investments Limited ABN 98 002 348 352, AFSL 232468 (Colonial First State) is the issuer of the FirstChoice range of super and pension products from the Colonial First State FirstChoice Superannuation Trust ABN 26 458 298 557. Colonial First State also issues interests in products made available under FirstChoice Investments and FirstChoice Wholesale Investments. This document may include general advice but does not take into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs. You should read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and Financial Services Guide (FSG) carefully, assess whether the information is appropriate for you, and consider talking to a financial adviser before making an investment decision. The PDS and FSG can be obtained from colonialfirststate.com.au or by calling us on 13 13 36.