At every life stage, from their 20s to their 60s and beyond, it's vital for women to make specific financial plans and strategies thanks to their specific life and career patterns.
Despite a higher likelihood of career breaks and reduced hours of work, women can still actively and positively manage their own financial futures.
The best way to do this is by seeking advice, engaging with your finances and planning at every life stage. Here's how.
The start of your career is an excellent time to set up a regular savings discipline. Look at ways to top up your super tax-effectively, such as through salary sacrificing or making personal tax-deductible contributions. A little now can prevent you requiring greater financial sacrifice later on and can help to prepare you financially for potential career breaks. Also, check your super statements and understand what it is that you are investing in. Perhaps the default option in the fund won't make your money work as hard as it could while you are in your 20s.
This is the most likely age for women to have career breaks so look at ways you can continue your super contribution momentum, such as spouse contributions. It is possible that you have had a number of jobs by now, so this is also the perfect time to consolidate multiple super funds. Update your personal insurances, taking into account new debt levels, responsibilities and new or future family members. And work on developing a strong understanding of your current household cash flow in order to plan for career breaks.
Typically you'll now have increased capacity, thanks to a return to work full-time or part-time, for superannuation top ups. During these higher income years consider salary sacrificing into superannuation as well as making personal tax-deductible or after-tax contributions. This is a perfect time to get the maximum amount into super. Interestingly, this is also the age that women are most likely to opt out of the corporate world and start up their own businesses – which they do at twice the rate of men. So if you're an entrepreneur and the value in your business forms a part of your retirement funding, you should carefully plan the business from the start-up phase through to the exit strategy and know what it means to your super.
This is the peak earnings decade so be sure to see your financial adviser, maximise your super top up and plan your transition to retirement. Planning for retirement, and ensuring you will have enough in your super to make it happen, starts with knowing what your retirement is going to look like. What will your expectations be in terms of quality of life, travel, entertainment, lifestyle etc? It is also important at this stage to begin thinking about the psychological impact of retirement and what it will mean to you. Retirement is about both health and wealth, so do all you can to prepare for both.
Finally it's time to begin full retirement planning and to perhaps start familiarising yourself with aged care options for further down the track. As well as retirement planning and aged care planning, the third and equally important strategy to have in place right now is estate planning. Get these right and all you'll have to do is relax and let the joy of retirement wash over you.