While the adage that a “man is not a financial plan” may seem old hat, the new financial year presents an opportunity for you to take charge of your own financial future.
Despite having longer life expectancies, women retire on average with less than half the amount of super of men.
That’s an average superannuation difference of $138,150 for women compared to $292,500 for men, to be exact.
Women can find themselves disadvantaged in retirement due to career breaks and a persistent gender pay gap.
It is not uncommon for women to lose out on super entitlements as the result of a divorce; and with one in three Australian marriages ending in divorce, this creates further financial challenges for women in retirement.
But even more concerning is the fact that women over 55-years-old are the fastest growing group of homeless people in Australia.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reports the number of homeless older people aged 55 and over seeking help has risen 44 per cent since 2011-12, with the majority of this group being women.
Here are five tips to help women to safeguard their financial future:
1. Get advice
The first step in any financial journey is to seek advice.
The good news is that most super funds provide free personal financial advice for members.
Depending on your age you might need help to optimise your savings or even change to a different investment risk profile as you near retirement.
2. Make voluntary contributions to your super
You can contribute to your super by salary sacrificing, making after-tax contributions or by receiving spouse contributions.
If your income is $40,000 or less, your spouse can make super contributions on your behalf and can claim an 18 per cent tax offset on those contributions up to the value of $3,000 per annum.
You might also want to speak with your employer about setting aside some of your salary to make extra contributions to your super.
Salary sacrificing is a tax-effective strategy as you will only be taxed a maximum rate of 15 per cent.
3. Find the right investment option for you
If you’re in a stable situation or newly on your own, you should check that the investment option selected for your super account is suitable for your situation and retirement goals.
It’s also important to make sure you’re taking investment risks at your level of comfort.
4. Super can be split in the event of a divorce
Divorce can be a complicated process, but when it comes to your super, it doesn’t need to be.
Super may be one of the most valuable assets a couple has and parties are entitled to it as with other assets, such as the family home, valuables and investments.
Family law allows super in a relationship to be split under a superannuation agreement reached by the two people involved.
If an agreement can’t be made, the court can determine the settlement.
5. Stay connected with your super
Stay actively engaged with your super by logging into your account online and checking your benefit statements.
You should also round up all your old super accounts and consolidate them into one fund to save on fees and to maximise your super’s growth.