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Why it’s never too late to secure your financial future

Fifty six-year-old Alison* has a mortgage and has faced financial difficulties in recent years. But she’s now hoping to continue working to rebuild her super savings by making regular contributions1.

Key lessons

  • Try not to lose sight of your super savings.
  • Reduce expenses as much as possible to free up any spare cash to contribute to super.
  • Talk to a trusted adviser about other ways to boost your balance with retirement approaching


Alison began her working life as a bank teller in Melbourne, then later re-trained and moved into marketing. While her involvement in the financial services sector led to a lifelong interest in property investment, her superannuation has suffered considerably along the way.


When she divorced and moved to Queensland with her teenage daughter, she was unable to find well-paid full-time employment and spent the next 20 years in a number of low-paid jobs. During this time, Alison accumulated a number of super accounts with different funds. “I knew that wasn’t going to be helpful down the track, so I moved everything into one fund,” she says.


Alison’s situation changed for the better when she found a full-time role as an events organiser, and her super balance started to grow. When that job ended, she moved to another full-time role, this time in the community services sector, where she has worked for the past eight years.

When the unexpected happens

Alison keeps an eagle eye on her superannuation and its investments. “I’m interested to see the return and whether I should take any action. I also regularly check that work is paying my contributions,” she says. Years before, Alison had been working for a small business that folded and she discovered, too late, that her super hadn’t been paid. Despite years of low income and raising her daughter alone, Alison has maintained her focus on property and understanding the market to ensure that she didn’t ever have to rent.

“The sale of one house for a profit to get to the next house, has allowed me to live in my own home,” she says. “It would have been nice to make a reasonable profit to put back into super. But I’ve always tried to reduce my mortgage instead, because I won’t be able to afford a mortgage when I retire.” Given her time again, Alison says she’d have kept more focus on her super savings – topping them up with personal contributions along the way. “I don’t regret focusing on property but I realise that if I’d kept my super balance higher, I’d be in a better place today.”

A window into the future

More than 80% of women are retiring with inadequate savings to fund a comfortable retirement2. The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) estimates that an individual needs around $545,000 to achieve a comfortable retirement.


But ASFA CEO, Dr Martin Fahy, says the latest figures available show that women are retiring with an average $123,642. “Homelessness Australia has identified older single women as one of the groups who are especially vulnerable to experiencing homelessness. Older single women may be forced out of the workforce early, have insufficient superannuation to fund the cost of living and face discrimination in the housing market,” he says.


It’s a cautionary tale, says financial adviser Amanda Cassar of Wealth Planning Partners. Life expectancy for women may be 84.6 years but that’s just the average. There are plenty who live well into their 90s, says Amanda. “A full aged pension for a single person is currently $23,824 and for a couple it’s $35,916 – that’s beyond a modest lifestyle,” she says.

It’s best to do what you can at this point to improve your position. Obviously keep working for as long as possible, cut your costs where you can and if there’s any money left over, no matter how small, make a contribution to your super. It’s also important to make sure you understand how your super is invested and whether it’s right for your stage of life1. Speak to your super fund or a financial adviser to find out.

Given her time again, Alison says she’d have kept more focus on her super savings.

Taking your next steps

  1. Check your super fund statement or log into your account – see your super balance and learn more about your investment options so you can improve your financial literacy.
  2. Update your Tax File Number by contacting your super fund. If they don’t have it, you’re probably paying too much tax.
  3. Education is key – speak to your employer about making extra contributions, ask family and friends to explain anything you don’t understand or speak to an adviser about planning your financial future. 



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 or by calling us on 13 13 36.