finance

Ignored your super so far? Here's how to make sure you're set up for retirement.

Female? Then chances are, you’re retirement might be a little bit screwed. Sorry, but it’s true.

With maternity leave, the low-income threshold and the gender pay gap, the fact remains that you’re likely to end up with less than half the retirement savings of the average man.

If you’re a working mum, the news is particularly grim – only one in 10 of you will have enough money squirrelled away by the time you pack up your desk for good.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Mamamia spoke to Money magazine editor Effie Zahos to find out how we can keep making it rain during our retirement.

via GIPHY

1. Don’t rely on the mandatory contribution.

The baseline goal for a comfortable retirement should be around $42,893 a year, or roughly $500,000 (in addition to pension and other capital), but 30 per cent of Aussie couples and 20 per cent of singles just don’t get there.

The problem? Only seven per cent of us chuck extra money into our superannuation.

“Sixty per cent of retirees are living in poverty. You might think, I’m young, I don’t care, it’s so far away,” says Zahos, “But if you just rely on the SG contributions (the 9.5 per cent your employer makes on your behalf), you too will live in poverty. It’s not enough.”

2. Pay yourself forward. Start now.

Not starting early is the biggest mistake you can make, so contribute as much as possible now – yes, that’s now – whether that means salary sacrificing or simply tucking away 10 per cent of your tax return each year.

Anything helps.

“I was 20 once and I can tell you now, I wish I had done that, because I wouldn’t have to be doing as much as I’m doing now to catch up,” says Zahos.

The reality is, if you can find money for a movie, weekly takeaway or a night out with friends, you can find a little for your super.

“If you put just ten bucks a week in there, you’d have $62,000 extra,” says Zahos.

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3. Check your balance. Regularly.

The best way to stay motivated? Watch your money stack up.

“How many times do you check your bank account? You should be doing the same with your super,” says Zahos.

“In this day and age it’s so easy to click on. When you start seeing your contributions going in and how fast the magic of compound interest works, you’ll be hooked, you’ll be addicted, for sure.”

4. Make your super work for you.

That means doing your research and taking advantage what’s available to you, whether that’s government co-contributions, splitting your spouse’s employer contributions or just making the most of online financial planning tools.

“Even your super fund has a limited amount of advice available to you for free. Call them up and ask them, ‘What was my return?’, ‘How do you compare’ – by law they have to give you the correct information,” says Zahos.

“There’s a lot of information out there, there’s no excuse not to know the basics.”

5. Visit superboosterday.com.au.

This new initiative, which has just launched, is encouraging Aussies to make a pledge to make additional contributions to their super.

It’s got everything you need to make this possible, from tips and checklists, to links to SuperGuru calculators and help tracking down old super.

“I’ll be honest with you: super sucks for women,” said Zahos.

“But it’s still the most tax effective vehicle that we’ve got, so let’s try and make it work and make sure women try and get their fair share out of it.”