The Strange Effect Being a Woman Can Have On Your Superannuation Fund

The Strange Effect Being a Woman Can Have On Your Superannuation Fund
Sponsored by ATO (Australian Taxation Office)

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What’s the state of your superannuation? Honestly? Like most women in Australia it’s probably looking a little bit bleak. Unless you’ve been working full-time at the same job since you were 14 years old, chances are you’ll have chunks of cash in at least 5 different superannuation accounts and the thought of sorting it all out is so overwhelming you just want to build a blanket fort and run away from the whole thing.

On top of being slightly terrifying, superannuation also has that air of futurism about it. Until recently I was very la-di-da about my super. I was all Whatever, I don’t need to worry about that for AGES!!! Look! A leprechaun!‘ and now all of a sudden I’m a female business owner being told that I’m almost guaranteed to have less superannuation than most men in my age group, by the time I retire. I’m a bit sulky about that to be honest. It’s like someone bought my brother a present and didn’t think to get me one.

The Strange Effect Being a Woman Can Have On Your Superannuation Fund

* Women get paid less than men so therefore earn less super over all.

* Most women will leave the work force to have children, leaving a gap in their super savings.

* When women return to the work force we often work part-time to support our families, halving the amount of super that we earn.

Ladies, we have to start taking control of our own financial futures.

A few months ago I started really getting my finances in order. I’ve made steps to start rolling my super and I’ve looked into the best funds that will support my freelance/casual/business owner revenue streams. I’m feeling much less like it’s a necessity to lock down a marriage to a geriatric millionnaire to survive my retirement, I’m in control of my own financial future. Here’s how you can set yourself up for financial independence and make sure that you can take care of yourself in retirement. 

The 5 Step Super Check

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1.  Check Your Superannuation Statements

Your super fund(s) should be sending you regular statements. It’s important that you make sure that your employer is paying the correct amount of super at least each quarter. You also need to look at the fees that your fund is charging. Funds that have lower fees will help you save money faster because they aren’t gobbling up your super savings in admin charges.

2. Make Sure Your Super Fund has Your Tax File Number (TFN)

If your fund has your TFN it makes it much easier to roll your accounts into other accounts and will help you to claim lost superannuation. If you provide your TFN you also won’t miss out on government super payments and you’ll also be able to contribute to the fund itself which is mandatory for freelancers and those that are self-employed. You’ll also pay less tax on your super.

3. Keep Track of Your Super Using Super Seeker

In 2013, lost super accounts up to the value of $2000 were transferred to the ATO, while larger accounts stayed with super funds. To search for and claim your lost super all you need to do is register.  You can register here and once your account is set up you can log in here. For more information on how you can use SuperSeeker to claim your lost super just visit here. 

4. Consider Government Contributions

If you are a low or middle-income earner, the government may help boost your savings through the super co-contribution. The co-contribution is a government payment you may get if you make personal super contributions. To receive the maximum co-contribution of $500 paid into your super account, you need to earn $33,516 or less and put $1,000 into your super account during the financial year. You may still be paid some co-contribution if you earn more than this (up to $48,516) and add more to your super. This is a great way to get a head start on your super when you first enter the work force or if you have a part-time job while studying.

5. Put Extra Money Into Your Super

You can make payments into your super fund account over and above the 9.25% your employer pays on your behalf. This can really help to build your super over time, and can help you make up for periods when you are not working. Even small amounts will make a difference.

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For more information on how you can boost your super and set yourself up for the future just check out the 5 Step Super Check you can also download the PDF here.  Half the trouble of getting started on your superannuation is knowing where to start and who to contact. The ATO has taken the guess-work out of it with these fantastic free resources so make sure you take advantage of it.

I know what I’ll be doing this weekend…

What’s the state of your super? Organised and under control? Or in need of a major overhaul?

Coordinated by The Remarkables Group
Carly is the founding editor of Smaggle which launched in 2007 back when blogging was weird. She has appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Cosmopolitan and Cleo magazines. Hoop earrings are totally her thing and she almost got run over by Myf Warhurst while out jogging one day.

37 Comments

  1. Erika 7 months ago

    Organised and under control. And for several years, I paid the maximum super that I could. Now that health has dictated part time work (and ensuing financial adjustments), that should pay off in the longer term. We’ve got to be money savvy.

    • Author
      Smaggle 7 months ago

      That’s a brilliant idea! I’m thinking of putting my tax return into my super fund each year. As a freelancer/business owner/casual worker my super is a nightmare so feeding it as much as possible is a really good plan.

  2. SIL 7 months ago

    I have most of this covered too, but I’ve gotta say it worries me that a lot of people, especially women, aren’t aware of these small things they can do to boost their super. I must say loss of super is something that concerns me when I consider the possibility of having a child in the future.
    Great post. Thanks smaggs

    • Author
      Smaggle 7 months ago

      I agree! Also just because I’m partnered up now doesn’t mean I always will be. The thought of not being financially comfortable in my retirement is terrifying.

  3. Steph 7 months ago

    Oh, I’m the worst! I have never once rolled my super from one fund into another. I also changed my name when I got married and have changed address quite a few times which makes it more complicated. Gah! MUST get on to it.
    Obviously many women stop work or work part time for many years to raise their children. If the male partner can provide enough financial support to allow this to happen then it’s great. It is terribly unjust however if that couple later separate and the man has a healthy super account and the woman a tiny one. It kind of seems as though super should be taken into account in divorce proceedings. Is it?

    • Erika 7 months ago

      http://www.familylawcourts.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/FLC/Home/Property+and+Money+Matters/Superannuation/

      From a quick scan, I think the bottom line is yes, the superannuation is included in the financial settlement.

      • Author
        Smaggle 7 months ago

        Thank you so much for the link, that’s really helpful!

    • JessB 7 months ago

      For my experience as a bystander in my parents divorce, the super for both of them was taken into account, and I think that my Dad ended up giving my Mum money towards hers, as she had stopped working and was a full-time mother most of my life.

      • Author
        Smaggle 7 months ago

        Oh good! Thanks for sharing… that’s great to know.

    • Author
      Smaggle 7 months ago

      I think they are taken into consideration yes. That’s what’s so scary about it. I have a partner now but I might not one day. It’s terrible to think about but it might be a reality. Best to set myself up for the future!

  4. Sar Cullen 7 months ago

    I don’t know if you remember the pic I sent in of my faithful hound helping me with my paperwork? Well that was Super Day! I got all my super fund statements together and then spent a solid few hours the next day consolidating. It was boring and a little tedious but it wasn’t hard. It’s even sweeter if you can sneakily do it at work… Access to a copier, a fax, envelopes etc makes the process easier. I’m glad I finally did it- now that little nagging piece of brain is at peace.One big thing I would recommend is finding out if your employer will add extra to your super if you do. I know with mine if I added an extra 3% they would add an extra 1%… Doesn’t sound like much but EVERYONE should be adding extra to their super (my sister advised me of this a good 5 years in)… and why not get the extra freebie your employer will contribute…?

    • Author
      Smaggle 7 months ago

      Oh yes! Well done! I think so too…. even just $1000 a year will add $30, 000 to the final amount. Totally worth it.

  5. Lauren 7 months ago

    Great article Carly! Now that I’m 30 being on top of my financial situation suddenly seems a whole lot more important. Consolidating super accounts is a total bore, but very satisfying once it’s all done. I think women (generalising here) are on the whole less interested in finances that men are. Many just trust the super companies/banks/partners to do the right thing for them which can be detrimental later on. Knowledge is power and I think the most important thing for women to do is to educate themselves about their own finances and get proactive in managing them. Boring it may be, but it’s not something you’ll ever regret doing!

    • Author
      Smaggle 7 months ago

      I don’t think that’s a generalisation at all. My finances bore me to tears but the thought of being destitute in my retirement is enough to really scare me into action. I’m sorting the hell out of all of this on the weekend… I’m halfway through the process but I’ve got to get it over the line!

  6. Rachael 7 months ago

    I rolled all mine into one a few years back. I’m now seeing it start to build up which is great! I didn’t start earning much till I was 29 ( now 32) so it’s a modest amount and given I chose a career in health it will probably remain so. Added to that, I’m about to take a years Mat leave and come back part time so my super contributions will really slow down. My husband would love to work part time in my place but earns 1.5 times my salary so it isn’t really an option. Thanks so much for posting this – I’ll take a look at all the tips and maybe I can make some changes to boost what I’m saving :-)!

    • Erika 7 months ago

      It’s worth seeing if your husband can contribute to your superannuation. I don’t know if it’s possible, or if it’s financially viable, but I’d expect there would be some tax benefit in it as well. Ask, the worst that can happen is to be told no.

      • Author
        Smaggle 7 months ago

        That’s great advice! Thanks for the suggestion!

    • Author
      Smaggle 7 months ago

      Yeah that’s where the statistic comes in. Men usually earn more than women so it makes sense for them to stay working rather than stay at home with the kids.

  7. Dr Na 7 months ago

    My eyes film over whenever I look at my super statements – I don’t understand them at all! But I at least have all my super in the one fund, which makes a difference.
    It’s a great reminder that you need to think of this stuff now if you want to be solvent when you’re old! Better go re-check my co-contributions…

    • Author
      Smaggle 7 months ago

      Gosh everyone else is heaps more organised than I am! I’m in the process of doing it! Wish me luck! It’s actually really inspired me to get hardcore about it!

  8. Bek 7 months ago

    Oh I was totally crap at super until a few years ago when I had to research it for an articlei was writing. The best way to procrastinate a deadline is freaking out about all your hidden super and scrambling to get it fixed! BUT I am happy to say I now have it sorted and I actually READ those statements when I get them! There should be more of this kind of article around though – the first thing on super I’ve read in a while that doesn’t bore me to tears. Thank you! Xxx

    • Author
      Smaggle 7 months ago

      I’m smack bang in the middle of getting all sorted. It’s a pain but once it’s sorted it will be so much better!

  9. Nina 7 months ago

    I once neglected a super account so badly that I finally got a letter saying that the fees I had been paying had actually drained the account!! Yikes! Ever since then I always insist on my own super account with each new job. What I haven’t got around to yet is doing research into which account will benefit me the best… Thanks for the inspo, I’ll get on to it quick smart! I’m now thinking about those fees being my retirement G&Ts!

    • Author
      Smaggle 7 months ago

      I’ve got to get onto that. I’m in the process of rolling my super. My issue is that I’ve had so many BS little jobs in my life I’ve got super all over the shop! I must pick a decent account. That’s my job this weekend methinks.

  10. dove 7 months ago

    Well not sure why the ATO would want to sponsor this post if they could not be arsed following up companies that go “bankrupt” but have not paid you your Super entitlements for months. ( and never do) Seems the “bankrupt” owner can still drive around in their Land Rover but strangely enough, but the ATO’s response is “sorry nothing we can do!”

  11. dove 7 months ago

    Oh and I now have an SMSF. Might not get a pedi every week but I know where my money is!

    • dove 7 months ago

      And yes Super has been part of a Divorce Settlement for many years.

      • Author
        Smaggle 7 months ago

        Thanks for that – I assumed it was but you can never be sure.

    • Author
      Smaggle 7 months ago

      What’s an SMSF?

  12. Flissa 7 months ago

    Really important info to share Smaggle – particularly as you have almost been guaranteed that you will get less super than most men in your age group . Made me think about hearing that the largest growing group at risk of homelessness are older working women!! We need to be smart when it comes to this stuff.

    • Author
      Smaggle 7 months ago

      Oh wow that’s a really scary statistic! I assume that super would be the reason why?

      • Flissa 7 months ago

        Yup. Lack of super is named as a main contributing factor!

        • Erika 7 months ago

          Also that they didn’t get a fair share in the divorce (my mum, Best Beloved’s mum)…. Not that either of them are homeless, but money is definitely a lot tighter than it should have been.

  13. Steph 7 months ago

    Hmm im really pleased I read this. It is definately an issue I have been neglecting with every new job, I always intend to opt out and use the only account I know I have but I never do it within the time frame. Had no idea about women being paid less super either – how have we not read about this before? Awesome post, thanks Smaggle x

    • Author
      Smaggle 7 months ago

      No worries! It’s a really important issue. I didn’t know much about it either until I read the statistics and now it all makes sense!

  14. hm 7 months ago

    Hope this comment is not too late to help! I do this sort of work for a living – ie helping people put their super in one place, invest it properly and add some insurance. My big tip would be – some of your super funds may contain insurance and you’ll lose this immediately on rollover. If you think chicks get less super & pay than men, the insurance is even worese. If you have life, disability or income protection cover elsewhere this isn’t a problem, but if you don’t have any insurance be careful you don’t lose cover you may need. Yep, the premiums will reduce your account balance, but for most of us who can’t afford insurance out of their own pocket, owning insurance via super is the way to go. Chat to the super fund or your financial adviser before you move anything.

  15. ClaireyHewitt 7 months ago

    I have mine undercontrol, however I really worry about it being enough when the time comes for me to need it. I work part time, My eldest child is 8, that is now 8 years without me putting into my super properly. My options are limited financially to add more in, but I do work part time so I have some contributions – for Mums that are SAHMs for considerable time (for always) it would really really worry me. Many women approaching retirement right now were not given super payments for decades when men were, it would be nice to see them get the super payments they should have received, even if it is 30 years late and minus the compounding interest they would have received…

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