Australian millennial females are spending up big on their physical health but turning a blind eye to their financial health, putting themselves at serious risk of never achieving true financial independence, according to new research released by NGS Super. The research, which compares female millennials' attitudes to financial health vs physical health, found that while 77% of millennial females said financial independence is important to them, less than half are confident about their financial future and only two-in-five are actively seeking to improve their financial knowledge.
The research revealed a stark contrast in the time, money and effort that female millennials are investing in their physical health as opposed to their financial health. It also highlighted a significant gap between female millennials' desire for financial independence and understanding of what's required to achieve it.
Alarmingly, 22% pay little attention to their finances. Despite being dubbed the side-hustle generation and living through the battle to close the gender pay-gap, a further 32% believe that managing personal finances for the long-term is not a priority for millennials.
Laura Wright, Chief Executive Officer at NGS Super said: "Despite three in five female millennials believing they are financially healthy, the sobering truth is that without a real investment of time and money early on, many women will be left scrambling to achieve financial independence and a stable nest egg when it's time to retire."
Over half (60%) of respondents said they invest in their physical health, compared to only a quarter (25%) who spend money on their financial knowledge. When asked to quantify their investment, the median spend by Australian female millennials on their physical health was $400 over the last 12 months, compared to $0 on financial knowledge.
However, the research also revealed that although they're not currently spending enough time and money on their financial health, the same women did show interest in the opportunity for expanding their financial knowledge.
"The good news is that millennials want to invest more in their financial fitness. As leaders in Australia's superannuation industry, we believe there is a desperate need for more tools and advice for millennials to help them on the path to financial fitness and long-term independence," Ms Wright said.
NGS Super today launched its Fierce Females campaign, which aims to arm young Australian women with the information they need to kickstart their financial futures, via the Fierce Females campaign hub.
"On average, women currently retire with $90,000 less than men. With an average gender pay gap of 14%, the odds are stacked against them, which is why it is absolutely vital that millennial women start saving early and seriously consider how they can invest in their financial fitness.
"Without a commitment to improving financial fitness now, this generation of Australian women is at risk of never achieving true financial independence and could run out of money in retirement" Wright said.
Question: Can you share some of the results from the NGS Super study with us?
Laura Wright: Our research shows that less than half of Australian millennial women are confident about their financial futures. Despite being dubbed the side-hustle generation, 32% don't view their personal finances in the long-term as a priority.
Question: How does "living our best lives" affect our financial futures?
Laura Wright: Many young Australian women are focused on their fitness, which obviously contributes to a better quality of life, now and into the future. But that focus is missing when it comes to their financial fitness, meaning that many women could be left scrambling to achieve financial independence and a stable nest egg when it's eventually time to retire.
Question: Why do millennials need to stop treating their financials as a future me concern?
Laura Wright: On average, women currently retire with $90,000 less super than men, so young Australian women really need to reprioritise and make sure their personal finances are front of mind. Retirement may be a long time away, but small steps that you take now can make that far-off retirement a lot more comfortable.
Question: What do you mean by financial independence?
Laura Wright: Financial independence means being able to support the lifestyle you want without having to work; being able to cover your day-to-day expenses but also not having to panic about unexpected bills or emergency costs. In the context of retirement, it means having enough super and other savings to live comfortably for the foreseeable future.
Question: Why do millennials need to prioritise their finances?
Laura Wright: Our research has shown that young Australian women believe their financial health is a 'future me' concern – they're 'waiting for the right time' to start thinking about their financial future. The thing is, the 'right time' is always now. Committing to their financial fitness is essential for millennial women to build a strong financial future – and the small steps they make today can make all the difference to that future.
Question: Can you share your top financial fitness tips?
Laura Wright: The good news is that millennials want to build their financial fitness – and it doesn't have to be difficult. There are five simple steps that you can take:
1. Track your spending: This one is critical and forms the foundation for everything you do. Be honest with yourself, and be prepared to make some tough decisions where you can identify unnecessary spending.
2. Make a budget (and stick to it): Once you know how much you're spending it's time to create a budget. But cut yourself some slack – if your budget goals are too harsh or unrealistic, you're much less likely to stick to them, and you could go down a negative spiral. So build in some treats and don't be too hard on yourself if you occasionally fall of the budget wagon.
3. Set realistic short and long-term goals: Without goals, there's not much to motivate you. By the same token, having only long-term goals can be a bit discouraging, if they seem far-off and unattainable. Short-term goals, like saving for a holiday or a weekend away, can give you quick wins, maintain your motivation and build your saving skills.
4. Make the most of your super: Retirement may be a long time away, but your super is your money and your future. Review your super, consolidate if you have multiple accounts and check your investment options regularly. And take advantage of features such as salary sacrifice, especially if you find it hard to save.
5. Explore your options: Once you have the basics under control, upskill by taking a deeper dive into the world of investment - talk to a financial planner, educate yourself about investment asset classes, listen to podcasts, read books, perhaps open a share trading account.
Interview by Brooke Hunter