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Let’s make the super gap history

International Women’s Day is the perfect time to celebrate women from all ages and walks of life. It’s also the perfect time to share ways of becoming more super savvy.

In an ideal world, we’d retire from work when we felt like it – free to travel the world, take up a new interest, or just relax. But many women just don’t have that luxury. They’re living longer than men – and between the ages of 55 to 64 have just $196,000, in super compared to $310,000 for men of the same age.1 For many women, that can mean fewer choices about the type of lifestyle they can enjoy in retirement.

 

What key factors are causing the gender super gap?

 

  • Women who work full-time earn significantly less than men.
  • Women are working part-time and may take time out of the workforce to raise a family or look after elderly parents.
  • Women are often juggling other priorities and not planning ahead with super contributions – if they want to start a business, travel, study or take a gap year.

Tips for achieving a better balance

The way to achieve a better super balance comes down to you. Rest assured, there are many ways you can do it.

 

Mike Beal, a Financial Planner from the Sunshine Coast, says his first piece of advice to women is to work backwards. “Figure out how much money you think you’ll need at retirement allowing for inflation, and you’ll get a good idea of how much you should put into your super,” he says.

 

It’s advice that applies to any age or gender. If you have limited knowledge of financial matters, learning how to drive your super more effectively doesn’t have to be a stretch. You can visit an independent site such as the Australian Securities and Investment Commission’s MoneySmart for easy-to-understand information about how super works and your range of options.

 

Not your thing? In that case, the next step may be to talk to a financial adviser. This is a specialist who’ll assess your financial position, discuss your plans for the future and provide a plan to help you track and achieve your financial goals. You can start by visiting the Financial Planning Association of Australia website.

 

If you’re a young woman starting out in your career, retirement is hardly a pressing concern – but making your money stretch further can be. Making a small change now could make a big difference to your future finances.

Start thinking about the future now

One of the best things you can do is to start early in building your retirement income.

 

 

Making extra contributions to your super, on top of what your employer pays in, could help to boost your super savings.2 It’s a good idea to speak to your employer about contributing to your super through a salary sacrifice arrangement. This means your employer will pay money out of your before-tax salary into your super account.2 The amount will generally be taxed at 15%, a big saving on your ordinary tax rate (if you earn more than $37,000).3

Early is best but …

It’s never too late to make a difference.

 

You can still benefit if you have continued employment (while you’re working, you can contribute to super); have a budget (live within your means); and get good financial advice (understand it yourself or talk to an expert).

 

“If you’re not contributing enough or anything to super, the biggest thing you’re missing out on is compounding interest,” Beal says. “The longer you leave it, the harder it becomes.”

Other ways to boost your super

There are other ways to boost your super balance. If you’re married and you earn $37,000 or less, your spouse may be able to contribute to your super, and possibly earn a tax offset by doing so. Alternatively, you may be able to split contributions with your spouse. Check with a financial adviser to see if this strategy would work for you.

 

You may also be eligible for a boost of up to $500 direct from the government, if you make a personal (after-tax) contribution to your super and you earn less than $52,697. It’s known as a co-contribution. Check the ATO website for more information.

What if you’re a small business owner?

Small business owners, struggling with secure cash flow, often leave their own super payments in the too-hard basket. And more than a third of all small business owners are women.4 But finding a way to pay yourself first by putting aside money for your super will help you plan and take control of your future.

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.

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