Women urged to take steps over re­tire­ment gap

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - TIM McIN­TYRE

WOMEN re­tire on av­er­age with less than half the amount of su­per­an­nu­a­tion that men have, prompt­ing in­dus­try fig­ures to urge women to take ac­tion now to safe­guard their fu­ture well­be­ing.

The most re­cent As­so­ci­a­tion of Su­per­an­nu­a­tion Funds of Aus­tralia ( ASFA) num­bers show men re­tire on av­er­age with $ 292,500, com­pared with $ 138,150 for women. Longer life ex­pectan­cies also mean women’s sav­ings must stretch fur­ther.

With this dou­ble gap, there is a real dan­ger that women will be left short later in life, ac­cord­ing to Claire Hig­gins, chair and in­de­pen­dent di­rec­tor of REI Su­per.

“Women over 55 are the fastest grow­ing group of home­less peo­ple in Aus­tralia,” Ms Hig­gins said.

“The Aus­tralian In­sti­tute of Health and Wel­fare re­ports the num­ber of home­less older peo­ple aged 55 and over seek­ing help has risen 44 per cent since 2011- 12, with the ma­jor­ity of this group be­ing women.”

Ms Hig­gins says with ris­ing rates of re­la­tion­ship break­down, women need to take charge of their own sit­u­a­tion, rather than re­ly­ing on part­ners’ sav­ings.

She pro­vides the fol­low­ing five tips to help women max­imise their fu­ture com­fort.

1GET AD­VICE Most su­per funds pro­vide free per­sonal fi­nan­cial ad­vice for mem­bers. De­pend­ing on your age, you might need help op­ti­mis­ing sav­ings or even chang­ing to a dif­fer­ent in­vest­ment risk pro­file as you near re­tire­ment.

2MAKE VOL­UN­TARY CON­TRI­BU­TIONS You can boost your su­per vol­un­tar­ily by salary sac­ri­fic­ing, mak­ing af­ter- tax con­tri­bu­tions or by re­ceiv­ing spouse con­tri­bu­tions.

To help non- work­ing or low- in­come peo­ple in­crease their su­per bal­ances, the ATO of­fers a tax re­bate to spouses who make su­per­an­nu­a­tion con­tri­bu­tions on their be­half.

If your in­come is $ 40,000 or less, your spouse can make su­per con­tri­bu­tions on your be­half and can claim an 18 per cent tax off­set on those con­tri­bu­tions up to the value of $ 3000 a year.

3FIND THE RIGHT IN­VEST­MENT OP­TION Check the in­vest­ment op­tion se­lected for your su­per ac­count suits your sit­u­a­tion, risk ap­petite and re­tire­ment goals. A fi­nan­cial ad­viser can help with this.

4SUPER CAN BE SPLIT IN THE EVENT OF A DI­VORCE Par­ties are en­ti­tled to su­per, the same as with other as­sets like the home, valu­ables and in­vest­ments. Fam­ily law al­lows su­per to be split un­der a su­per­an­nu­a­tion agree­ment reached by the two peo­ple in­volved. If an agree­ment can’t be made, a court can de­ter­mine the set­tle­ment.

5STAY CON­NECTED WITH YOUR SU­PER Stay ac­tively en­gaged with your su­per by log­ging into your ac­count on­line, check­ing your ben­e­fit state­ments and en­sur­ing your em­ployer has been mak­ing con­tri­bu­tions. Round up any old su­per ac­counts and con­sol­i­date them into one fund to save on fees and max­imise growth.

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