Kerry Ashbrook, Director of Life You Choose, a Career Money Life certified supplier, provides advice on how women can live the life they choose at retirement.
Meet Hilda & Norm, Mum & Dad, the hardest working people I have ever known. They were very happy and much-loved by their family and friends. Mum & Dad had modest expectations for life and money, these included having a roof over their head, food on the table and enough petrol to visit family and friends. Their expectation was that they would live their retirement years on the pension and they were more than happy with their lot. When needed Dad would still pick up some odd jobs here and there, and continued this well into his 70s,
When Mum turned 60, she was eligible for the pension and Dad became eligible at 65, even though he continued to work passed this age. Having worked hard, paid taxes and being an Anzac from the second world war, this was seen as a positive reward to live out their years.
Fast forward to now and we have significantly greater expectations of what we want out of life, at what exact age we want it and the age when we can access the pension and/or our super has changed.
“I have always had super contributions, so I’m going to be fine, aren’t I?”
For those of us who have been in the workforce since the 90s, 1992 was when compulsory employer contribution superannuation was introduced in Australia. So, if you were born in the 70s and have worked as an employee, it is likely that super contributions have been a part of your entire working life. So we expect this will make for a more comfortable retirement. If you are in your own business, then it is likely that while you are working hard, you may not be paying your own super.
Unlike my parents (and probably most people of retirement age), we do not understand what retiring and living on the pension will be like. Around 80% of Australians who have reached Age Pension age currently receive a full or part Age Pension.
Have you considered what income you need to live the life you choose in retirement?
“I have to work, how long?”
Women in Australia currently live to 84.6 years, with our expected age at death continuing to grow. As we are living longer, the age we can access the pension and/or our superannuation, also continues to grow, by 2023 it will be 67 and is expected to grow beyond 70 years. If you had your own super, your preservation age (the age you could access super) used to be 55. Just like the pension, this age is now being pushed out, currently it is 60. What age are you planning to stop work, or cut back?
“The pension is how much? $23k per annum for me or $35k for the two of us!”
For women attending the Life You Choose workshops, it is often the first time they are confronted with just how little the pension is. A lot of women attending are in the 45-54 year demographic, which means there needs to be real urgency to change their financial position, unless they are quite happy to survive on the pension (and so far none of them are).
Most women attending have never sought financial advice, fortunately a lot have their own home (with a mortgage), but are not taking advantage of any equity they may have to build wealth.
Imagine living on the pension, really think about it, now imagine paying rent or still paying your mortgage as well?
The average rent in ‘Middle Melbourne’ for a 2 bedroom house, is $361 per week, or just under $19k, not sure we even need a calculator to do that math.
‘They’ keep changing the rules…”
Yes ‘they’ do and that will continue! The government continues to push out the access age of the pension and your superannuation. The bottom line is we have to work until we are older, unless we have investments to support us.
Asset test rules change and there have been significant changes to super, this will continue. We have an ageing population and each budget, there will be winners and losers. Your retirement lifestyle can be significantly impacted by the swipe of a pen in the budget process.
“I’m still in my 20s, I’ve got plenty of time and really who cares how I live when I’m old!”
If you are in your 20s, then it’s likely you were brought up believing that anything in life was possible and that’s great! I remember being told to go and enjoy myself while I was young, don’t settle down too early, the responsibilities of adult life and children will come around soon enough (and believe me they do).
Having a child in my mid 30s and getting married for the first time in my 40s, you might think that I ran with that advice. However, I also bought my first home, on my own, in my 20s. Even though I didn’t realise it at the time, this was by far the best financial decision I would ever make, it has changed not only my life, but the lives of my immediate and extended family and friends. Buying that first home, has made so many other choices possible.
In Australia 25-34 years is a significant time of change for women, on average we get married just before we are 30 (with only 36% not married or not living with our partner), we have 1.81 children at an average age of 31.1 years.
If you are in your 20s, it is time to engage in your life and finances. Decisions you make now can literally transform your life and the lives of those around you! The best time to do this is now.
“I work, I have my own income, surely that will be enough?”
The short answer to this is NO! Yes, absolutely you need income, it not only impacts how we live today, it also has a compounding impact on how we live in the future. As does our spending. What you earn directly impacts your superannuation contributions. We know the average woman does not have enough super to retire on.
We move in and out of the workforce, 1 in 4 women aged 25-34 (24.8%) were not in the labour force in 2015-16. This remains reasonably consistent. 23.1% not in work at age 35-44 and 21.5% out of the workforce aged 45-54, until we hit age 55-64 when 41.5% are not employed. This would be great if it were by choice and we had the money to comfortably retire.
Women aged 55-64 years have on average $180,013 in super, the median is significantly lower. If we are in the percentage that are no longer working, this amount of super, combined with the age pension will give us a retirement income of just under $30k per annum. This is on the basis that we are eligible for the pension at 67 and do not touch our super until then, which means we need to have money to live until then.
The bottom line is at the very least get onto a super calculator and work out what you need to retire on and if you are on track. https://www.moneysmart.gov.au/tools-and-resources/calculators-and-apps/retirement-planner
If you think you have all the time in the world, you don’t! The sooner you act, the more likely you will achieve your financial goals. Life has a way of rushing by and before we know it, we wind up somewhere we didn’t plan and wonder how the hell that happened.
There will be a minority of women who end up with enough super for retirement, these will be women who most likely own their own home and may have other investments as well. If you can’t see how this will be you, then now is the time to do something about it!
“Are you saying there is something wrong with having long term financially dependence on our partners?”
Hmm, how do I say this, YES! It’s the old ‘eggs in one basket’, do you have a plan B?
According to the last census by 55-64 years almost 1 in 3 of us are single (31%) and 29% of us have already been through a separation, divorced or have been widowed. It is highly likely that these life events will negatively impact our financial situation. Even though we know statistically that this they may happen to us (look around at your partnered friends at the next dinner party), we do not financially plan for them.
Almost 50% of divorces involve children under 18. Women are still the primary care givers, not only of their children when they are young, but potentially their parents as they age as well. On average we get divorced when we are 42.7 years.
By this time if we have not been working, or working part time, it is increasingly difficult to change the financial trajectory we are on. Many women also lose their confidence after having a career break and struggle to re-establish themselves in their industry
The other critical impact of income: it directly impacts our ability to access DEBT. We need borrowing capacity to buy our own home or any other investments that may provide us with other income in the short or longer term.
Do you have an asset base that can support you both jointly or individually, with two separate homes and retirement plans? Or are you 110% certain that nothing will ever go wrong with your relationship.
YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR FINANCIAL FUTURE!
Having an awareness and understanding of what impacts our financial position now and potentially in the future, allows us to plan, understand the risks and think through contingency planning (sounds like work? It is!).
We spend more time (and money) planning our next holiday than planning our life and our financial future. The life we choose today will directly impact that of tomorrow. If we put aside just the cost of 1.5 coffees per day from 22 to 65 years, we will have an additional $234k to retire on. This would be a lot more if we learn how to invest.
Having clarity on what you want out of life, building your capacity to achieve it, gaining the confidence to make it happen and consistently moving forward on your finances to achieve your goals, is how you will achieve a life that you would truly choose.
View the original article here.