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Recently I was watching Sex and the City and as a thirty-something trying to do her best to run a business, live life and prepare for the future I found myself adding up the outfit changes and designer pieces, the apartment and meals, not to mention the taxis.

Sure, I don’t know much about living in NYC, but I know what everyone knows. Something doesn’t add up here, financially. With all this money was being spent on clothes, what happens next?  With her money right where she likes it, in her closet, I couldn’t help but wonder, was Big Carrie’s retirement plan all along?

Was marrying money her only plan to take care of herself in her retirement years? And, after years of working for myself, with very little super to show for it, am I relying on the same plan? Though I’m very happy with the husband I have, so maybe the marry rich ship has sailed. Haha. But I’m talking about the STRIKE IT RICH retirement plan. The one where it doesn’t matter what I do and spend now, one day I’ll be rich (through marriage, inheritance or luck) and it will all be fine. It doesn’t exactly sound like a safe bet, does it?

 

Women and Superannuation in Australia, let’s talk about that.

 

It makes you think, right? Especially given that stats say 44% of women rely on their partner’s income as the main source of funds for retirement. (the study does not distinguish the sex of the partner). Half of all women aged 45 to 59 have $8,000 or less in their superannuation funds, compared to $31,000 for men (source articles linked below). Let’s break that down a bit.

This shortfall is due to a number of factors including providing care for children, being paid less for work they do and increased levels of working part-time and therefore being below contribution minimums. 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).

 

I’m not an expert, by any means.

 

Living in the regional area that I do, with a mother who sold real estate, buying a house was one of the first things I ever did with my money. Chalk that one up to privilege in so many ways. And during my relationship with Kel, there have been times that we were able to own multiple properties at once.

Ultimately, retirement for me right now looks like paying off my house then trying to save as much as possible when I’m done. That’s not advice, but the way, I’m not in any way a professional or in a position to offer advice to you. It’s the reality of my current position. And I’m one of the lucky ones in the sense that I have a home and I’m in a position where I have the means to pay off that home.

 

For now anyway. What if the worst happens?

 

Something that women in my position, myself included, need to consider is what we would do if we lost our partner through death or divorce. Especially if that partner happens to be an income-earning male. What happens then? All the articles I read recommended getting quality advice from an accredited professional that you can trust (my brother is a financial advisor, talk about the best of both worlds).

Next is to start saving super early especially if you are able to co-contribute or increase the standard rate. This is where good advice comes in so handy, take your payslips or latest tax return and get advice on how and where you can increase your superannuation savings. Recent statistics show that the gender pay gap is currently at 17.2%, which means females only earn 83 cents for every dollar earned by males so we need to make what we have stretch longer.

And keep in mind, those statistics are based on the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Cat. No. 6302.0, Average Weekly Earnings – Trend data, February 2011 (released 19.05.11); there are plenty of women, including black women, women of colour and trans women who these figures are even worse for. Whenever and wherever you can safely ask for that raise, support your fellow workers to do the same and call out these inequalities when you see them.

Lastly, it’s important you choose the right fund for you, your income type and how you plan to contribute to your super. I can give you the right answer here, but again, that’s where good advice can come in. It’s also important to consider the type of places your money will be invested and whether that fits with your principles.

 

My final thoughts

 

Phew, that was a big one. This post was rolling around in my head for a while and I needed to share it. Mostly because I know that a lot of you are in the same position as me where you are working for yourself, part-time or are in the position where you are caring for others or yourself and not earning an income outside of the home. We are often overlooked in the conversations around retirement and saving money. I didn’t want this blog to be another place that happened.

So, team, I hope this gives you some food for thought and a kick in the bum if, like me, you need it. So, I’ll end this post there, but remember what my mum used to always say if you marry for money and you’ll earn every cent. We need to be standing on our own feet when it comes to the financial aspects of our lives as much, if not more, than in other areas. Financial security is the ultimate freedom, in my opinion, so let’s work together and develop that muscle together.

 


 

Some links to read about women and superannuation in Australia

 

Australian Human Rights Commission – The gender gap in retirement savings

Monash University – How the Gender Gap Hits the Superannuation of Australian Women Early

Women in Super – The Facts About Women and Super

 


 

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Women and Superannuation in Australia - Suger Coat It

Women and Superannuation in Australia - Suger Coat It

 

Post feature image via Vogue – Take a Tour of NYC with the Real-Life Carrie Bradshaw

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