Women around the world face huge problems when it comes to money. For many, there’s a gender pay gap, time out of work to look after children and working lives that are usually shorter. We are great savers but are reluctant to take the plunge to invest to build wealth, consequently dragging behind the net worth’s of men.
So, while we celebrate women’s achievements on International Women’s Day, it is a timely reminder to talk to other women about financial matters and look at smart ways to bridge the gap.
It’s all about time when it comes to building wealth so the longer you are contributing to a nest egg, the greater the long-term benefit. The small amounts invested over a long time will add up, so start as early as possible. If you haven’t got a regular savings plan going, today is the day to start. It’s never too late.
Women are 2½ times more likely to live in poverty in retirement than men, so making your money work for you is vital. Women are wonderful savers but investing it can sometimes be daunting. With interest rates at recordlow levels, investment returns on traditional savings accounts are likewise low.
We need to recognise that women generally avoid risk compared to men when it comes to investments, seeking the sure thing rather than a bigger return. This can be harmful in building long term wealth. Take the plunge and start investing - start small with a parcel of shares or a managed fund and seek advice if you need. Investing will help accumulate real wealth over time.
Retirement nest eggs are falling behind men’s by around 40 per cent, so it is important to ensure you know about your superannuation. Check if you have lost super and consider consolidating super funds to easily keep a track of your super accounts. Be aware of your insurance that is in your fund or exit fees before you consolidate.
Nine out of 10 women don’t have enough super to fund their retirement. Consider adding extra or salary sacrificing some of your pay into your superannuation fund – this can be worthwhile where your marginal tax rate is more than superannuation contribution tax rate and can reduce your tax bill as the contributions are taxed at a reduced rate.
Watch what you spend
With longer life expectancies than men, women are forced to survive on less for longer than their male counterparts so keeping an eye on your expenditure is important. Add discipline by setting up a spending account with another account being for big fixed or large expenses. Only pay yourself what you want to spend as opposed to what you earn. Save the rest but don’t forget to invest some too.
Stay clear of debt
Be wise about how you use your credit cards and loans. Ensure you aren’t incurring interest on your cards and pay off your home loan at a faster rate by increasing your repayments.
Choose the right employer
Not always easy to do, but when negotiating your salary at a new job, consider all the benefits available and how they may affect you both in the short and long term. Things like longer paid maternity leave or additional super contributions may be more beneficial during your career.
As one woman in the workforce you may not be able to single-handedly erase the gender pay gap, but by negotiating your salary to reflect your full worth, and making the time and effort to maximise your superannuation contributions and returns, you should be able to ensure you avoid the fate of those women who will retire to a life of poverty.
Remember, we all have women in our lives that are susceptible to these statistics. Encourage the women in your life to take the time today to look at their affairs and plan for a secure financial future. Grab a cup a tea, sit with your girlfriends, mother, grandmother, daughter or family member and have the conversation about your money. If you need help, contact a professional financial planner. A little planning now, can mean a much more contented retirement down the track.