Superannuation. Taxes. Stocks. Budgets. Bills. Hardly words you would describe as fun or, for a lot of women, even remotely interesting. Unfortunately, this lack of interest means women tend not to invest, pay off our debts in time and it also means we are less likely to have enough money to sustain us in retirement. And that’s not even the worst part. Some women, coined ‘Cinderella Singles’ in financial circles, rely on men to save them from having any economic responsibility.
A British study has found that forty per cent of women admit they leave superannuation to their husbands to sort out. And despite the fact that we live longer, only 47 per cent of women are saving enough for retirement, compared with 59 per cent of men. Studies in Australia show a similar pattern.
“Women are still significantly worse off than men, despite almost 20 years of compulsory superannuation,” said Pauline Vamos, chief executive officer of The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA).
This news made my feminist heart break a little; did I just step back to 1950? You’d think the notion that women are sitting around waiting for a man to take care of them would be completely outdated. In 2011 we have a female Prime Minister, a paid parental leave scheme and as slow going as it is we’re finally making inroads to bring about equality in traditionally male dominated fields. But then I thought about who is responsible for money in my own household and realised it was something I had wiped my hands of a long time ago.
I don’t know what happened. I used to be so good with money, but as I’ve gotten older it suddenly got all too hard. No longer was it just about putting pocket money into a Dollarmites account or income into a term deposit to save for a car or overseas trip. I struggled to understand the jargon of the stock market, investing money seemed risky and I still don’t know what the Dow Jones index is. I’ve asked before but like Teflon, it’s just not the type of information that sticks to the walls of my brain.
And now? Well, I pay bills. My friends were pretty swift in pointing out that paying bills is not actually the same as thing as being financially responsible. Well, you got me there, and it’s true, even with the best of intentions and smart Kikki.K folders, I still can’t be trusted to pay them on time. I guess I’d just rather be doing other things. When my husband starts talking about mortgage repayments or share markets I nod my head like I’m listening but really I’m thinking about a dress I saw online and if I’ve reached my credit card limit. Guess which one of us is the spender.
Of course this isn’t always the case, many of my female friends are the breadwinners, invest in stocks, keep separate bank accounts and top up their super with extra payments every year. But with pay inequalities still existing between the sexes, by retirement women will have a smaller payout. In 2006 an ASFA study found that women will have approximately 50% less than men retiring at the same age. For many families, income is the main factor in deciding who stays at home to raise the children, often meaning it is the woman who gives up her career, job or full-time work and misses out on vital years to build up her super.
We know that women outlive men and the Australian Bureau of Statistics predicts in 2011 one in three marriages will end in divorce, so why do women still leave the money decisions up to the man?
How does it work in your relationship? If you are the one that shies away from making financial decisions, why?