Women and money – getting into good financial habits

Source: IOOF, August 2014

Women generally face more financial hurdles in their retirement than men for a number of reasons.

Broken work patterns to raise children, lower average earnings, and longer life expectancy are the main causes. Therefore women need to take action when they are young so that they are not significantly disadvantaged later on.

There is a significant financial gap that can open up over a lifetime due to many women spending less time in the paid workforce than men. Over the next 40 years, for example, a 25-year-old male is expected to earn (on average) $2,500,000. In the same period, females are expected to earn just $1,500,000.

With the compulsory employer super system entirely based on earnings, it’s not hard to see how the gaps identified above directly impact the amount of super women accumulate during their working lives.

Getting into good financial habits

Following are ten good financial habits to help you make the most of your wealth accumulation strategy.

  1. Start with the basics

The foundations to achieving your financial goals start with getting organised. This means you need to start with the basics – complete a budget and understand your expenditures. This will also allow you to manage your cash-flow to meet your ongoing expenses.

Reducing your personal non-deductible debt (such as credit card debt) and seeking to understand why you have accrued it in the first place is essential. From this point onwards you need to start saving and determining what goals you wish to achieve.

  1. Improve your financial literacy

Financial literacy is the ability to make informed judgements and effective decisions about the use and management of money. It is an essential skill for functioning in modern society and is becoming increasingly important in achieving your financial goals. You can improve your financial literacy by busting though the jargon as a starting point whilst taking your time to understand both simple and complicated matters. Your confidence will grow over time and confidence comes through understanding.

  1. Take control and build your super

Taking control of your super starts with improving your knowledge. Start by tracking down any lost super and providing your tax file number to avoid paying 47 per cent tax on your employer contributions. Consolidating your super into one account is also important.

There are a number of ways to build your super and even small contributions can make a big difference over time:

  • Salary sacrifice: if you are working, ask your employer if you can pay part of your pre-tax salary into your super fund.
  • Government co-contribution: the Federal Government may match your personal after-tax contribution to super if you meet the eligibility criteria.
  • Partner or spouse contributions: if you have a low income or are not working your partner or spouse may be able to contribute to your super. Making contributions to your super on your behalf may deliver them a tax rebate which may assist in reducing their tax liability while at the same time building your superannuation.

A financial planner can help you to work out whether you would benefit from making additional super contributions or even access the co-contribution scheme based on your goals and objectives.

  1. Understand investment risk

An integral part of your wealth accumulation strategy will be investing into assets such as fixed interest, property and Australian or international equities. It is essential to understand potential investment risks and be comfortable with the impact of decisions you make (such as how much risk you’re taking on).

A simple way to gauge your risk appetite is to weigh up whether you could sleep at night knowing your investments are either gaining or losing money.

  1. Understand your investment options

As a consumer, you probably wouldn’t purchase a product you didn’t know anything about – you would complete some research to get a greater understanding. The same principal applies to investments. You need to understand what you are investing in, what investment options exist and if these options are suitable for you.

  1. Harness the power of regular investing

Making your money work harder for you is good practice. The easiest way to do this is to harness the power of regular investing. Investing regularly over a long period of time allows you to take advantage of compounding investment returns.

  1. Protect your most valuable asset

Your ability to earn an income is your most valuable asset. All of your future plans depend on it. If you’re unable to work due to illness or injury, you lose this valuable asset – unless you have the right insurance arrangements in place. You should seriously consider taking out appropriate insurance cover, such as income protection and total & permanent disablement cover to ensure your financial stability is protected.

  1. Make the right estate plans

It is estimated that nearly half of all Australians die without a Will. Creating one is a vital aspect of your estate planning which should also include enduring power of attorney, medical power of attorney, guardianship of your children and a binding death benefit nomination within your super account.

Having a Will in place can help provide certainty and direction to your family, on your desires and wishes, upon your death.

  1. Develop a strategy

Clear direction to help achieve your goals can be formulated in a strategy within a financial plan. Your financial plan can be likened to a road map which will move with you over time as your circumstances change.

Life changes and if you have any questions on how to position your portfolio please don’t hesitate to contact the team at Main Street Financial Solutions either via email admin@mainstreetfs.com.au or 03-61730070 .

Sources: IOOF, August 2014

www.hreoc.gov.au (About – Media Centre – Speeches – Sex Discrimination) “Accumulating poverty: Women’s experiences of inequality over the lifecycle” Elizabeth Broderick. www.abs.gov.au/ausstats – Average Weekly Earnings, May 2011, Cat No 6302.0 (2011).

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Women and money – getting into good financial habits
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Women can be more more strategic by having good financial habits which would provide financial benefits towards their retirement. Read more...
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