Women & Superannuation

I’ve met plenty of people skeptical about our superannuation system over my years as a planner and I get it.  Believe me, I have to devote hours ever year to keeping up with the annual federal budget, managing legislative changes and getting my head around constantly changing tax and super laws.  It can be a drag!

It’s also true that we retire with about half the retirement savings of most men, and some women retire with no super at all!  But the reality is this, women live longer than men, making it even more essential that they accumulate enough superannuation to last them through retirement.

Having said that, women also face unique challenges when it comes to putting away retirement savings. Chances are, you’re still on lower pay than your male counterparts, you’ll take more time out of the workforce to raise the kids or care for your parents, and for those running a single-parent household, it can make it even more challenging to build a reasonable amount of super savings.

However, there are some simple strategies make it possible for women to overcome some of these hurdles, or make them less of an issue anyway…

Try and remember, that superannuation is actually your friend.  It is a very tax-effective way to save retirement. Your super fund pays a low rate of tax on contributions and investment earnings while growing your nest egg.  From age 60, you can withdraw your super tax-free.

Without any superannuation savings, many women are forced to rely solely on the age pension in their senior years.  Remember, the pension is designed as a safety net and won’t provide at all for a comfortable old age.  I’m not sure I could go back to a lifestyle that’s funded on around $23,000 per annum and you probably don’t want to either!

Firstly, don’t let your super funds get ‘lost.’  Try and ensure your funds are consolidated – this can help save on fees, but make sure you’re not losing valuable insurance coverage when doing so.  When possible, try to put extra away into super.  The ATO and website MyGov are making it easier than ever now to stay on top of your funds.

Affording an extra $20 – $50 per week now may not take food off the table but the additional money, plus years of compound interest will add up, and after all, your investing in your future self.  Sounds like a win to me!

Understand your fund and make sure your employer is putting your full entitlements in regularly on your behalf.  At the time of writing, this was 9.5% of your gross wage. Mostly now, we have super choice meaning that we’re able to choose the fund we want, and then check where your money is invested within the fund.  Is it in line with your investment profile?

To grow your fund, you’re often able to make pre-tax contributions (Salary Sacrifice) or even post-tax contributions where no tax is charged.  Depending on your circumstances, your partner may also be able to make contributions on your behalf and receive a tax offset for their efforts.

However you go about it, remember that you’re investing in your future and that superannuation is your money.  It certainly pays to be savvy with your super!  Sitting down with your financial adviser may reveal new and innovative ways you can make the most of your retirement savings!

The Truth about Investing

Plenty of people tell me, “I’ll come and see you when I have money to invest!”  Great!!  (Mostly, I’m still waiting…)

So how much does it really take to start investing?

Truth is, you really don’t need a lot.  Some start with a small lump sum and others put small amounts away regularly.  It’s really what’s best for you.

The best advice I can give you for free… is to start!  Then keep adding to your investments regularly.

You’ve probably heard it before, but remember – don’t put all your eggs in one basket! And, the higher the earnings or return you expect from an investment, the more risky it’s likely to be. Investments that offer lower returns are generally less risky.

A financial adviser can assist in working out your risk profile – that’s the level of risk you’re comfortable with, and that can depend on what you’re investing or saving for.  You may have a much higher tolerance for volatility for your superannuation or retirement funds than you would when saving for the deposit on a home.

Advisers are also qualified to assist when you’ve had an inheritance, lost or divorced a partner or had a major change in circumstances.

Sit down and work out your personal budget and see just what’s left each pay period that you can use to either bring down debt or start your savings plan today!  If you don’t know where to start, an adviser can definitely assist.  So stop putting it off and waiting for the magic to happen… chances are you’re more likely to get ahead by starting, than waiting.

Women & Retirement

Seeing there’s actually no fixed aged when you can retire, it’s really completely up to you.  What it does come down to usually is, can you fund it?

Most start thinking in their’s 50’s about how it’s all going to work, as entitlement to the Age Pension is somewhere between 65 and 67, depending on when you were born.

Often a gradual transition is the way to go, slowly cutting back on days at work, going part time before finally exiting the work force for good.  Other conditions to consider when approaching retirement and leaving the work force for good are the loss of social interaction provided by work and the mental stimulation that’s provided.

Do you have hobbies that can take the place of your usual schedule or will boredom quickly creep in?  Exiting slowly can help you keep a hand in, whilst transitioning slowly, giving you a taste for what lies beyond work.

Some may choose to continue working part-time towards their 70’s as life expectancy moves forward.  Others have always wanted to volunteer for a local school or charity and now enjoy giving back to their local community.

If you still have a partner, discussing expectations and plans for life after work is essential to ensuring you’re on the same page.  Suddenly being together 24/7 isn’t everyone’s ideal start to their retirement years.

For others, it’s time to buy that caravan or Harley (or both!) and join the multitudes of Grey Nomads touring the country!

For others it’s not so easy.  Forced retirement may be brought on by having to assist in caring for aging parents or unwell children or grandchildren.  This can seriously impact your ability to put away additional funds to help in your retirement years.

And still, financial considerations remain top of mind.  How much you’ll need in retirement is completely dependent on the lifestyle you’ll be living…  And what you have saved to boost your pension will often dictate that lifestyle.

You might want to sit down with your planner long before retirement is on the horizon and discuss strategies that may suit your circumstances.  If your debt is low, it may be time to give your superannuation funds a boost by implementing salary sacrifice strategies.  For those closer to retirement, it might be worth considering a Transition to Retirement strategy.  Those on a lower income may be able to take advantage of the Government’s Co-Contribution strategy.

Getting the right advice for your situation is likely the best investment you can make in your future.  So how does retirement look for you?