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When you were young, did you ever dream of having super powers? Now that you’ve grown up you’ve probably got other things to think about… but it’s not too late to become a super woman.
First of all, something you may not realise: Australian women tend to have less superannuation savings than men. There’s even a name for it – ‘The Super Gender Gap’
The average super account balance for women aged 55-64 when they’re getting close to retirement age is $55,000 compared with $91,000 for men.1 The average retirement pay-out is $112,600 for women and $198,000 for men;2 and men hold around 63% – almost two thirds – of super account balances.
Whilst retirement might seem like a long way off, if you’re a woman and you want to make sure you have a comfortable lifestyle in retirement, this is something you probably want to understand and do something about.
Luckily, there are things you can do to boost your super savings, but first, let’s look at why the super gender gap exists.
• Women tend to live longer than men. In fact, current statistics shows that women live around five years longer than men.3 This means that they have more years of being retired to fund.
• Believe it or not, on average, in Australia women still earn less than men – up to 17%. Less income means less super contributions. The gap in pay means that many women can’t accumulate as much wealth and have less choice about their lifestyle in retirement.
• A lot of Australian women have a career break to have and care for children. This can mean time out of the workforce where no contribution is being made to super
• Increasing divorce rates mean that women are more likely to be primary care givers of children, and are often granted the family home in divorce settlements, making them asset rich, but cash poor.
Now all of this might seem a bit doom and gloom, but there are some simple steps women can take to close the gap and improve their chances of having a comfortable retirement.
1. Maintain one super fund.
One account means you’re not paying multiple sets of fees. It’s also less hassle and easier to keep track of your balance.
2. Make extra contributions to your super when you can.
You can add to your super on top of the 9.25% your employer is obliged to pay. Even a small amount can make a big difference over time and have a major impact on your retirement lifestyle.
3. Even when you’re not working you can add to your super.
Let’s say you take a career break to look after your kids. A five-year break from work could see you end up with $45,200 – or 26% – less super than a woman who worked through that period.4
But if you’re under 65 you can still add to your super – which may also give you some tax benefits. And, if your spouse is working and in a position to add to your super, there may also be some benefits for them.
4. Get Advice.
Don’t be put off or intimated about getting financial advice. Ask questions so you can make informed decisions about your future. Over-the-phone financial advice is free for AustralianSuper members.
For more tips on how to get control of your super and be a super woman, go to www.australiansuper.com/supermakeover
This feature is intended for information purposes only. Please speak to a financial adviser for personalised advice.
2 The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia Limited, Developments in the level and distribution of retirement savings (2011) written by Ross Clare, ASFA Research & Resource Centre at http://www.superannuation.asn.au/policy/reports
4 Source: Rice Warner Actuaries, Superannuation Savings Gap for Women at 30 June 2009 prepare for IFSA , p15,
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