When I’m 80, I plan to drink champers, travel a lot, stay fit and healthy, dress well, have fun with my mates and generally do what I want. I’m probably smack bang in the middle of the bell curve on this one.
So, some awesome news. Women are
officially on track to retire with half the amount of super as men*. And the
typical balance is a measly $80,000: enough to last you about three years,
assuming you’re ok with no dining out, no holidays, no movies etc. This is just
enough to get by on an
awful very basic standard of living for
necessities like electricity, groceries, petrol etc.
The problem is not a new one. It’s partly because planning for retirement is batshit boring. In the age of instant gratification, the ‘me’ culture, and staying forever young; no one wants to think about a) something more than five years down the track or b) getting old.
Nor does it help that the concept of superannuation itself and all its complex terminology (and forever-changing regulations) is ridiculously complicated and out of sync with today’s limited attention spans.
Of course the other issue is women’s super account balances are affected when they step out of the work force to have children. Super balances increase through length of time, employer contributions while working, and salary growth since it’s a percentage of your pay. The reality is superannuation wasn’t designed to allow for motherhood.
So all I can say is this: get professional help if you need it. The numbers don’t lie. The problem is real for women and it’s no good being hands off. Grab that dusty pile of unopened super mail and take it to a financial planner you trust for advice specific to your situation. Do your homework and ask around. Make sure you’re comfortable you can properly communicate with him or her. It’s your future to live not theirs.
Australia has an ageing population and the problem will get worse in the future, especially with everyone living longer thanks to medical advancements. Like going to the dentist or painting the spare room, it’s an uninspiring task that has to be dealt with in spite of the daily madness of modern life. However, it’s so much better than the alternative being a baked beans lifestyle in your twilight years. Your 80-year-old-self will cheers you with her champagne, preferably from somewhere in Tuscany.
*The study entitled Not So Super, For Women, (July 2017) revealed a woman’s median superannuation total by retirement was $80,000 – just 47 per cent of what a man the same age accumulated over the same period. Author David Hetherington, from think-tank Per Capita, said on average, women retire with less than three years of modest retirement living.