Are you a super woman when it comes to money?
If not, don't worry. You're certainly not alone! Money is central to women's lives. We earn it, we must manage it - and we love to spend it. Whilst many women may feel completely secure in their financial futures, many of us can feel overwhelmed by all there is to know and understand.
The Super Woman Money Program, presented by VicSuper, has been developed to help women understand more about their finances, take better control of their money and create a lifestyle they can enjoy now and throughout their lives.
Barbra Norris, the Chair of VicSuper says "Research shows that of all retired households, single women are the most likely to be dependent on the full Age Pension for their income. That's just under $730 per fortnight (in 2012). It's clear that the more we can do to assist women to overcome the financial issues associated with lower wages and time out of the workforce, the better off we'll be as a society."
It's no secret that women still earn less than men, with an 18% gender gap. Women also live longer than men on average, yet they are likely to retire with around 40% less in superannuation. So it's obviously time for women to become more financially astute and there is help at hand!
VicSuper have just launched a 12 week program, the Super Woman Money Program, to help us get up to speed with this important topic. The program encompasses:
12 weekly emails - including an article each week with a 'step' to take towards becoming a super money woman.
4 Melbourne events
An 'Ask the Expert' section where women can post financial questions to be put to the financial planners as well as other links and resources.
"Talking in complex and confusing industry jargon just exacerbates the problem for many people. VicSuper is pleased to provide the Super Woman Money Program as a way of taking the scariness out of money management through practical advice and actions delivered in a simple and entertaining way" says Barbra Norris.
Ms Norris concluded, "VicSuper has a strong commitment to education and to the financial welfare of women. We have more than 130,000 female members and are keen to assist them - and all women - to take control of their financial futures."
Want to get in control of your finances and learn more about money management? Register for the free to participate in the Super Woman Money Program, presented by VicSuper, at www.superwomanmoney.com
Justine Davies is a finance writer, blogger and author who is passionate about educating both women and men about money. Her philosophy is that the more you understand, the less you have to think about it.
With over a decade of experience as a financial planner she writes a weekly 'Gen Y' finance column for the News Ltd papers and a weekly 'Money Stuff' blog for news.com.au. She is the money expert for Women's Health magazine and Practical Parenting magazine as well as a contributor for Essential Baby, and can be heard on various radio stations across the country.
Justine has written four books: 'How to Afford a Baby' (2007) and 'How to Afford a Husband' (2009), both published by ABC Books. A non-finance book titled 'An Inconceivable Notion' (2010), published by Finch and her most recent book: 'Money for Nothing', published by Wiley last month (Jan 2012).
Question: What is the The Super Woman Money Program?
Justine Davies: Super women money is a 12 week program - a bit like a 12 week personal training program - to help women take control of their money and to educate them about their choices. Whether you're male or female, the earlier that you are in control and in charge of your money management and decisions, the better for your financial future.
Question: How bad are women with managing money and our super?
Justine Davies: It's not that women are bad at managing their money and super - it's just that some of us could be better! Women are amazingly good at multiple-tasking, but the only problem with that is that when it comes to finance, we really need to sit down for an hour or two and give it our undivided attention. A lot of us simply don't find the time to do that.
Question: Why do you believe women are statistically worse at managing their money and super in comparison to men?
Justine Davies: Statistically, women are less comfortable at managing money. Research by the federal government a few years ago found that more than half of all women admitted to feeling stressed and overwhelmed when they have to deal with money (far more so than men). Personally I think it has something to do with testosterone, because the higher your level of testosterone, the more comfortable you are with risk taking.
However that doesn't mean that men are better at managing money (just more willing to do so) because the danger with too much risk taking is making the wrong decision and losing a lot more money. I think we have seen plenty of examples of that globally over the last few years!
Question: Can you explain your philosophy: the more you understand, the less you have to think about it?
Justine Davies: The more you understand about money, the less you have to think about it because decisions become second nature. It's the same with anything, from cooking to rock climbing - putting in the hard yards to Improve your knowledge and skill at the outset means that you're not starting from square one every time you have to make a decision. It makes it soooo much easier!
Question: What is your number one tip for women to start saving?
Justine Davies: Number one tip - start paying yourself first! Irrespective of know much you earn, aim to put 10% of your pay into a separate savings account. Make it an automatic debit that happens as soon as your salary hits your bank. That ways it's out of sight and out of mind, with less temptation to spend it. If you truly can't manage 10% then start with five and slowly build your way up.
Question: If we find ourselves in debt - what is the first thing we should do?
Justine Davies: If you find yourselves in debt then the absolute first thing to do is have a written budget, so that you can see exactly where your money is being spent. To do a budget, get 3 months' worth of every bank statement, and go through them line by line, putting all the income and spending into an online budget. Then add in any annual expenses and once you have done that you will know exactly where your money is going. Once you know where it's going, you can work out how to cut back.
Then - take your credit card out of your wallet so there is no temptation to use it. Get a debit card instead. Once you have your spending under control, you will gradually be able to start paying off your credit card. It could take a long time - but don't lose heart.
Question: What is the first thing Australian women need to understand about their super?
Justine Davies: One thing that women must understand about their super is that it's important! Choosing wisely with regards to fees that you pay and e long term return that you receive can literally make tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands difference to your nest egg. It's your money - you HAVE to look after it!
Question: Do you believe that all Australians should have a budget and be tracking all of their spendings?
Justine Davies: Yes, yes, yes, yes, YES! Everyone should definitely have a budget! A budget is what puts you in control of your money. It tells you how much you earn and how much you spend - and what you spend it on. If you don't know what your current situation is, it's very difficult to make any long term changes.
Question: Have you always been a money saver?
Justine Davies: Oh gosh no - I definitely haven't always been a saver! First thing I did when I left University and got a job was get a credit card to go along with it! Fortunately it didn't have a massive limit - the bank probably knew me better than I knew myself! It was an expensive lesson though and I very quickly tried to learn how to live within my means.
Question: What inspired you to begin educating women and men about money?
Justine Davies: I'm passionate about teaching men and women about money because over 10 years as a financial planner I saw so many people struggling under the weight of personal debt and spending their lives in a vicious cycle of playing catch up. I also saw so very many people who were simply confused about their finances and didn't know how to improve their situation. Most people don't need sophisticated financial solutions; they just seem some education and encouragement. But there is very little out there in the way of financial education or literacy. Money is something that we have to deal with every day - it vastly improves our quality of life (and stress levels) if we find dealing with it easy.
Question: What are your Super Woman Money Program Tips for Women?
Put yourself in control: The first and most fundamental thing that anyone needs if they want to get ahead financially is a budget! You need to know how much money is coming in, how much is going out - and where it's going! So out yourself in control of your money by doing a budget.
Give yourself a shot of self esteem!: The government did some fantastic research into people's attitudes and beliefs about money, called the 'Australians Understanding Money' report. What they found is that men tend to over-rate their abilities - and women tend to underestimate their abilities. It's a self-defeating attitude! Believe in yourself, because having the self-confidence that you can achieve something is a really important step in succeeding.
Know your worth: It's another aspect of those self-esteem issues, that women are less likely to be hard-headed negotiators. What you earn, though, will have an impact on how much you end up with, so keep yourself up to date with current salary levels - check seek.com.au or careerone.com.au just to make sure that you're being paid what you're worth.
Make the most of what you have!: It's important for everyone, but women tend to earn less over their lifetime so it's extra important for them to make the most of what you have. Like superannuation. You have to have it, it's sitting there, so make sure that you know where it's invested and that you're happy with that investment. 80% of people take little or no interest in their superannuation - it can make tens of thousands of dollars difference to you if you do!
Do some research: No one is expert at anything without doing a bit of research. So surf the web - there are some great finance sites out there. Vic Super is running one at the moment, which is superwomanmoney.com. It isn't just superannuation - it has finance articles on everything - some of them written by me. There are seminars, question and answer section - all sorts of things. Doing some research increases your financial literacy which then decreases the stress that you feel when you have to deal with money issues.
Get a buddy: It's a generalisation but women do like to talk! We like to discuss things, to brainstorm and to share any concerns that we have. So just as you might have a friend you go running with or go to the gym with or catch up with for a coffee once a week, get a financial training buddy! A trusted friend/friends who you can talk to about money issues.
Disclaimer: This is general advice only and does not take into account your particular investment objectives, financial situation or specific needs. You should therefore consider the appropriateness of the advice in light of your own objectives, financial situation or needs before acting on the advice.
Interview by Brooke Hunter