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Smart Super Strategies for Women Posted on October 9, 2018
While society has progressed a long way since our grandmothers turned 65, there’s still one aspect of our social progress that needs to catch up: when it comes to retirement savings, women are still worse off than men.
The combination of career breaks for raising kids, more part-time work, an over-representation in lower paid ‘caring’ jobs such as child care, and time out of work to look after sick or elderly relatives, means that women generally accumulate much less in retirement savings.
In a 2011 report, the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed that the average super account balance for men and women aged 15-64 is $71,645 and $40,475 respectively. By the time women reach retirement, the gap is even more pronounced: the average superannuation payout in 2009-10 at retirement (ages 60-64) was approximately $198,000 for men and just $112,600 for women. For single women, this amount would only last five years, and even with a modest budget.
These figures may seem unfair considering that women are nowadays more financially independent than ever before, with female labour force participation at 59% in 2011 compared to 34% in 1961.
The reality for many women is that they are facing retirement with a much lower super balance than their partner, while some – due to death or divorce – are on their own and forced to make the most out of the little that they have. It’s especially difficult for those who missed out on compulsory super contributions in their early working years.
The good news is that there are strategies that can boost women’s super balances, no matter what stage of life they are at.
Start early: If retirement is still several decades away, women have the opportunity to make extra contributions to their super now and take advantage of time for their investments to compound and grow, as well as recover from any short-term dips in the market.
Example: Hayley could put $250 per month into a savings account, or alternatively salary sacrifice $379 per month (the amount she’d need to earn to receive $250 in the hand) into superannuation, assuming she is on a tax rate of 32.5% plus Medicare levy. Both accounts pay 7.7% per annum after fees and before tax, but thanks to the fact that the superannuation deposit is taxed at only 15%, as is the interest return, at the end of 10 years her savings account would show $38,991 but her superannuation account would show $54,354.
Make the most of government schemes: Other possibilities to boost super include splitting super with a spouse or taking advantage of the Federal Government Co-Contribution Scheme. These are particularly useful during times when one spouse is not working or only working part-time, such as during the early years of raising children.
Consolidate your super: At the very least, consolidating any super funds into a single account can reduce your fees and make it easier to keep track of your super.
Make the most of investments: Talk to your financial adviser about creating an investment strategy that best suits your circumstances and comfortable level of risk.
For other super-boosting strategies, click here to learn how you can devise a plan specific to you.