The Financial Planning Association of Australia The Financial Planning Association of Australia

6 ways women can make more of their super

Women have to work their superannuation investments harder to help improve their retirement income. Lower salaries and time out of the workforce to raise families leave women with less than half the retirement savings of men, according to a recent ANZ study

A Senate inquiry is underway to examine the problem but in the meantime, how can women make the most of what they’ve got?

1. Use just one super fund

If you’ve worked for several different employers who have paid your compulsory super contributions into different funds, consolidate the accounts into one fund. It means you’ll save money in fees and be able to keep track of your funds more easily. It’s easy to do. Just contact the fund you want to end up with and ask for their help to organise it.

2. Check for lost money

It might be worthwhile to check the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) MoneySmart tool for finding unclaimed money, in case you’ve lost track of funds over the years.

3. Take an interest in your fund

Look closely at your fund, most can be accessed online. Check the investment options and whether they match your stage of life and the amount of risk you’re happy to take. Also consider the insurance options available. Most funds offer life insurance, total and permanent disability cover and income protection. Buying this insurance through your super fund can be cheaper in some cases because of the super fund’s buying power. Premiums are deducted from your super account.

4. Sacrifice some salary

If your employer agrees, you could choose to add a little more to your super from your pre-tax income each pay period. It’s a tax-effective way of boosting your super balance because the money that goes into your account is taxed at just 15% rather than your usual tax rate.

There’s a limit on the amount you can contribute at this tax rate each year. If you’re under 50, it’s a maximum of $30,000 and if you’re 50 or old, the maximum contribution at the 15% tax rate is $35,000. You can contribute more but your usual tax rate will apply.

5. Consider splitting super with your spouse

If you’re a stay-at-home parent at the moment or earning less than your spouse, your spouse could consider making a contribution to your super account. They may be eligible to claim an 18% tax offset on contributions of up to $3,000.

Your spouse could also split their contributions with you. This is carried out at the end of the financial year with your fund’s permission.

6. Don’t forget the government co-contribution

If you earn less than $50,454 before tax, you may be eligible for a government co-contribution to your super if you make an after-tax contribution yourself. The government will contribute 50 cents for every dollar you contribute up to a maximum of $500. The amount reduces depending on your income. You can check how much you could receive with ASIC’s MoneySmart calculator.

For more information about boosting your super, speak to your financial planner, or visit our Find a Planner tool to find one near you.