Girl power your money
Dollar and sense...why women should be more involved in their finances.
Give me a second while I climb on to my soapbox. Right, here I go about my personal crusade: women and finance.
A few facts for you.
Women earn, on average, 17 per cent less than our male counterparts, the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling says. And if we decide to have children, there is usually a period where we stop earning, too.
These factors conspire to give women an average superannuation balance just more than half that of men, $128,598 versus $233,961, according to a study by CoreData.
It needs to stretch further. Women live an average of 4.6 years longer than men, the Australian Bureau of Statistics says - males can expect to reach age 79.3, while females could make 83.9 (based on life expectancy at birth).
What's more, it costs 4 per cent more to be a woman than a man, recent research on discretionary spending by insurance provider Million Dollar Woman, says.
Women also apparently sabotage their personal balance sheets further by spending 13 per cent extra on gifts. (We won't talk about the 22 per cent more we spend on clothing and accessories or the 86 per cent more we spend on hair and beauty.)
Yet, I would be a rich woman if I had a penny for every female who said to me: "I just can't get interested in finance stuff."
Today I want to give you - or your wives, daughters or mothers - three good reasons women should.
While the men in their lives should love and want to look after them, for many reasons they might not always be able to. Women need to ensure that, if they suddenly have to, they can do it themselves.
Money permeates our whole lives - and total control of it brings undue influence. To allow this in your relationship might introduce a power imbalance that could ultimately undermine that relationship.
By contrast, setting and pursuing life goals jointly - regular holidays, a family home, an early retirement - can be incredibly bonding and, as you achieve each one, satisfying.
And it seems we know it. CoreData found 47 per cent of women want to get involved in their finances but feel ill-equipped to do so. Given men are willing to take on higher risk to make higher returns - 37 per cent versus 16 per cent - it's prudent, too.
Where to start on your money mission? With the simple stuff.
Know the account numbers and PINs for any jointly held accounts or loans. And be sure you can access them without your partner's signature (at the risk of getting grim, this could give vital access to money in the event of death and prior to a will being settled).
Next, make sure you are across any insurance you as a couple or family hold. If you don't have enough to provide for you and any children should the worst happen - life and income-protection insurance, at least - rectify that immediately.
Finally, think long-term. What is your strategy for paying for your own retirement - whether as a couple or single at that time? Remember, your household might have money coming in for, say, 30 years but needs money to spend for more like 50 years.
Super is a great way of doing this - but more than a third of women rated their super knowledge as poor or very poor compared with only 15 per cent of men.
What's most important to realise is you won't get contributions if you're not working. So as a couple, make voluntary contributions during all such periods (if you are still earning some money, you may be eligible for a matching government co-contribution of up to $1000).
This is the very best way to ensure a woman's super will kick in when she finally kicks back.
From Sun Herald