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Women earn less, save less, spend more and live longer. So, we need to make our Superannuation our Superpower, because when the time comes to stop work and head into retirement, we need to make sure we’ve got enough. Here are five ways you can boost your super.
Ok ladies, listen up.
The simple fact of the matter is that despite the fact that it’s 2019 and despite the fact that we’ve been fighting for a long time, gender pay gaps still exist. And they mean that on the whole, women still earn much less than men.
Added to this is the fact that many women elect to take time out from the workforce at some point, to raise children or care for sick or elderly relatives. When they return to work, often it’s part-time.
And, it costs more to be a woman. Take your average haircut for example. A woman can expect to pay much more than a man. And then there’s all the other cash we spend on wardrobe, accessories and beauty treatments. And while each and every one of us wants to look our best, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, we tend to spend more.
Therefore, we save less.
Let’s not forget, we live longer. The average Australian female life expectancy is now 84 years. For a man, it’s about 80 years.
Study after study shows that at every stage of life, women have less retirement savings than men. None of us can rely on the government in old age. We can’t rely on marriage for financial security (divorce rates are on the increase) and hoping for some kind of windfall or inheritance is also a risky strategy.
So, we need to take control.
Here are five strategies for making your super perform better:
1. Consolidate everything into one fund.
No doubt, if you’ve had a few jobs on the career trajectory, you’ve also got more than one superfund. When you consolidate them all into one fund, you can save money on fees, but more than that you can keep track of your super more easily. You can check the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) MoneySmart tool for finding unclaimed money, in case you’ve lost track over the years.
Get professional advice about what’s the best fund for you. Industry funds are great,but if you want more control over your super, then you might be best off opting for something else. A financial planner can help, because changing your super can affect your personal insurance too.
2. Taking control means really taking control
Most people make superannuation a ‘set and forget’ proposition, but when you take an active interest in how it’s performing and what you are entitled to top it up by annually, you can really start to make a difference to what you’ll accumulate by the time of retirement.
3. Salary sacrifice
Most employers provide an option to salary sacrifice, so consider doing it, and view it as enforced savings. Salary sacrifice means adding a little more to your super from your pre-tax income each pay period. Not only is it a tax-effective way of boosting your super balance, because the money that goes into your account is taxed at a lower rate than income, (limits apply) but salary sacrifice means you’ve looked after your super (and ultimately YOU) before all your other bills are paid, and more importantly, BEFORE you start spending what’s left over.
4. Spousal support
If you’re a stay-at-home parent, earning less than your spouse, your spouse can make a contribution to your super and claim a tax offset for doing so. It’s worth looking into. And if you’re getting divorced or separating from a long-term partnership, remember that superannuation is an asset that can be divided, so make sure you know your entitlement.
5. Are you eligible for the Government Co-contribution?
If you earn less than $50,454 before tax, you may be eligible for a government co-contribution to your super if you make an after-tax contribution yourself. The ASIC website has more, or ask your financial planner. This can also help provide a little boost to your super.
Having your fingers crossed and hoping for the best by the time you reach retirement is not the greatest strategy to rely on. If you do nothing else with your money, we recommend that you look after your superannuation. Figures published by the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia’s Retirement Standard suggest that to have a ‘comfortable’ retirement, single people will need $545,000 in retirement savings, and couples will need $640,000.
These are a guide only. And it’s impossible to tell how life will pan out and what your dreams will be at the end of your working life.
While there are exciting questions to answer like, ‘Do I want to travel?’ there’s also a bunch of other ‘real life’ potentials you need to face too such as … What if you have health issues? What if you haven’t accumulated other assets like a home or investments that you can also use to fund retirement? Have you considered the cost of aged care?
We spend so much of our lives working, and while most of us are lucky enough to find careers that are fulfilling and invigorating, there comes a time when we do want to slow down, wind back the commitments, play more, and work less, if at all.
What do you do then? When the regular income stops and there are still bills to pay?
The most important thing you can do is prepare now for retirement. Small, steady, incremental steps will help you build a healthy superfund. Then, when the time comes, you’ll be prepared to carry on living life the way you want to, without having to worry about finances.
The information contained in this article has been prepared without taking into account your individual objectives, financial situation or particular needs – it is GENERAL ADVICE ONLY. Before acting on any information in this article, I recommend that you consider whether it is appropriate for your individual circumstances.