Women have to work harder to make the most of their retirement income. This includes making the best of their super funds. Lower salaries, timeouts, interrupted employment and the glass ceiling leaves women with less than half the retirement savings of men. According to research done by The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) about 47% of single women fund their future retirement better as compared to 78% of men. This means, as per the Australian Bureau of Statistics, that the average super balance for women aged between 54 to 65 is $180,000, but for men it is $322,000, which is a worrisome figure.
So, how can women make the most of their super funds? Here are some of the top tips women can keep in mind to make retirement as easily as possible.
#1 Make Plans
Planning is the first step to a bright retired future. It is never too late to have everything planned out, so that if you ever decide to retire early everything is sorted out in advance. Furthermore, the upcoming changes to super rules from July 2018 will also help women to catch-up tax-deductible contributions to super.
The plus point is that instead of a $25,000 cap on these contributions every year, people will be able to roll over their unused cap for five years. As a part of planning, it is also important that women should have a home.
#2 Check For Unclaimed Money
Finding unclaimed money is another big step, especially if you have lost track of your funds over the years. It might sound silly, but money can easily be lost if you do not claim it over the years. This is mostly true in the case of women who have to face challenges in both the personal and professional front. So, ensure that your super funds reflect the true amount, which you are due as it is the best way to cash in on the super funds.
#3 Review Your Investment Portfolio
Invest your super funds properly and you can be sure that it works for you when you retire. Keep track of where your money goes and whether it’s right for you based on your age, stage of life, and attitude to risk. If you have ample amount of time till you retire you can opt for a “growth” option which can give you more exposure to shares and property. This will be of a higher risk, but there is also potential for stronger returns over the long-term. However, if you’re closer to retirement you may opt for a more conservative approach.
#4 Use Your Salary For Your Super
Every little bit in investment counts. So, if it is alright with your employer, you could add up a little more to your super using your pre-tax income from each pay period. This is a tax effective way of boosting super balance as money going into the account is taxed at a minimum rate of 15% and not the usual tax rate. If in any case you are unable to make regular payments, just making a one-off after-tax contribution can also help you to supercharge your wealth. For example, even if you top up your super with $500 a year you’d have about $178,000 at age 67. That is a swell amount, right?
#5 Consider Spouse Contributions
Super savings can be supplemented by making contributions from after tax salary. Contributions can be made at any point in the working life. You need to take advantage of lower tax rates for the super. Effective returns will be based on factors such as retirement age, years till retirement, lifestyle following retirement, level of income and savings. Another way to boost super savings is after tax contributions to your spouse’s super fund making joint retirement savings easier. You can get 18% tax offset on contributions of $3,000 if assessable income and reportable fringe benefits of your spouse is nil or $10,800 or less per year. Maximum rebate permitted is $540. For stay at home or low income earners, spouse contributions can make a difference, Spouse contributions can be split with your super fund, provided the fund gives permission for the same.
#6 Consider Government Co-Contribution
Depending on your annual income, you may be eligible for a government co-contribution to your fund. The Australian government may actually co-contribute to your super if the after tax contribution is made yourself. The government contributes 50 cents for every dollar up to a maximum value of $500 on your super for you.
From concessional contributions to government co-contribution, splitting spouse’s contribution and consolidating your super fund, there are many ways to make the most of this fund. Women need to be alert about how to approach superannuation with smart strategies, so that the retirement years are a golden experience. Most important of all, keep in mind the age pension, which remains the main source of income for almost three quarters of retirees, and sound advice from a financial planner.