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How’s your super looking?

How’s your super looking?

By Dear Molly

Sure, it’s been a busy year, but have you by chance checked your superannuation balance recently?

Next question, have you compared your super balance to the balance of your male partner or a male colleague of a similar age in life?

No? Well brace yourself, because chances are your personal balance might be less than you think, and as an Australian woman, you’ll retire with a far smaller nest egg than the average Australian man.

The reality is, Australia has a massive superannuation gap, and according to research it sees many Australian women enter their final years in poverty.

So why the gap, and what can you do to address it?

The super gap

Australian women accumulate far less super over their working lives for a host of reasons. There are the years we take out of the workforce to raise children, along with the fact we typically earn less than men.

Then there’s the real kicker…because women are more likely to be in casual employment, there’s a good chance we work in one or a number of casual roles where we do not qualify to be paid super at all.

To put that into perspective, Women In Super explains:

·       On average women in full-time employment earn 18 per cent less than their male counterparts

·       Women take an average of five years out of the workforce to raise children, and…

·       An estimated 220,000 women miss out on $125 million of superannuation contributions as they do not meet the requirement to earn $450 per month (before tax) from one employer (as many women work more than one part-time job)

Ultimately, this results in some pretty scary superannuation statistics.

The super stats

Here’s the figure to take note of, for all the reasons listed above and more…

Australian women currently retire with 47 per cent less superannuation than men.

We also tend to be in retirement longer, because Australian women live five years longer than men on average.

That means we either depend on our partner’s super to assist us through our twilight years, or worse, 40 per cent of us live out our retirement in poverty, experiencing economic insecurity.

What’s the answer?

Currently there’s a push for a change in superannuation policy that better reflects women’s role in the workforce, factoring in the impacts of casual employment, and our tendency to fulfil unpaid carer roles.

However, Women In Super, MoneySmart and a host of other super industry bodies note you can take things into your own hands to better prepare for retirement.

Strategies include:

Contributions

Where possible, contribute above and beyond the 9.5 per cent government-mandated super threshold. This is particularly pertinent to younger women who have fewer family and financial responsibilities and are in the prime years of their earning lives.

Additional voluntary contributions attract tax concessions, but at present women only receive one-third of these (while men enjoy the balance) because we fail to take them up.

Choose wisely

Too many of us set and forget our super funds without really looking into what they do, and what they offer in terms of returns. Investigate which super fund is likely to best achieve your financial aims and make an educated decision.

Rollover

It’s no good having six super funds which each charge you fees, and there’s a pretty good chance you may be among the many, many Australians who have more than one fund. If you believe you might have unclaimed super, find it, claim it, and roll it into your current fund.

The ATO’s keen to help you with this and you can find your lost super here.

Ready to get educated about your super? You can find more information at:

Women In Super
MoneySmart
Australian Taxation Office

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