New research reveals that while the majority (90%) of Aussie mums prioritise their children's wellbeing, almost two in five are at risk of financially burdening their kids later in life by saving inadequately for retirement.
REST Industry Super, a profit-to-members super fund with a large proportion of female members, commissioned the -Super Mum Index' to unearth and address the challenges faced by Aussie mums when it comes to superannuation.
The findings show that around 80% of Aussie mums admit the pressure to be a -super mum' and sees almost two-thirds of those surveyed (63%) focus so heavily on family expenses that this is the key reason they refrain from topping up their super.
In fact, one in 10 of the nation's mums claim they neglect to save more actively for retirement due to the guilt associated with taking money away from the family for their immediate needs.
Despite Aussie mums' unrivalled focus on their children's welfare, almost 39% of those surveyed would turn to their own children first if they were struggling financially during their retirement.
Importantly, of the survey respondents who financially support their own retired parents (8%), seven in 10 admit they feel the weight of this burden financially and mentally, suffering from headaches (43%), sleeplessness (43%), anxiety when spending money (35%) and tearfulness (33%).
Furthermore, while only 8% of Aussie mums claim they feel assured about their financial future, the data unveils that Aussie families talk about the latest TV shows almost as often as they do about saving for the future, and their work and recreational commitments more frequently.
REST Industry Super General Manager for Brand, Marketing and Communications Mary Atley says, the research reveals an important insight into the attitudes and behaviours of Australian mums when it comes to superannuation.
'The Super Mum Index affirms how the common pressure among Aussie women with children to be able to -do it all' impacts on how often and how seriously they are able to consider their financial position later in life. Given the clear focus that Aussie women place on their loved ones' wellbeing, it is worth turning their attention more consciously towards their retirement savings, for the benefit of their own futures, and their children's futures."
Ms Atley adds: 'With such a large number of female members, REST Industry Super has long understood the financial challenges Australian mums face, and is committed to making superannuation easier to understand and less daunting for busy women."
In order to assist its members into a financially stable retirement, REST Industry Super will pay for a member's first super-related question over the phone with Money Solutions, a team of financial coaches and planners, as part of its membership.
REST's Top Simple Super Tips for Saving for Retirement
Take baby steps
Consider putting a little more aside each year to top up your retirement savings. For example, by pocketing the cost of a daily takeaway coffee, you could be putting nearly $1300 more aside for your retirement annually, which is almost $6,500 in five years. This can make a significant difference over time when you consider the interest this will gather.
Map it out
If saving for retirement seems somewhat daunting, make a plan for how you'd like your future lifestyle to look. If your vision includes relaxing holidays, dining out and spoiling the grandkids, you'll need to think about how you're going to achieve this financially through measured and steady contributions. Just be sure to keep revising your plan, should the amount of contributions you can make change over time.
Don't double up
Surprisingly, many Australians have more than one super fund, meaning they're flushing away a proportion of their savings on a few sets of fees. If there is no need to have more than one fund, you can avoid this extra cost (and confusion) by combining all your super funds together.
Have the conversation
Work super into your chats with family and friends. Sure, it may not seem like the hottest topic to bring to the dinner table, but the earlier you and your loved ones start thinking about your financial situations later in life, the more time you'll have to prepare.
Take care with career breaks
With women typically taking time off work to start a family, making personal contributions to your super before, during or after a career break can help balance out your time away from employment.
Boost your balance as a duo
In addition to above, consider the possibility of your partner or spouse making contributions to your super on your behalf, should you press pause on your career. This may also entitle your partner/spouse to an income tax rebate – so it's an option worth exploring.
Maximise a pay rise
What better time to top up your super than when your salary is set to increase? This way, you'll be less likely to miss it, and will have it available to you when you need it at retirement. And don't forget you may be able to take your super with you if you're switching employers.
Defer to an expert
This is where the -fake it till you make it' rule doesn't apply. Rather than gamble with your retirement savings, check in with a financial planner to make sure your investment option is right for your age and situation. REST will pay for each of its members to get their first advice on a super-related question over the phone with Money Solutions, a team of financial coaches and planners.
Question: Why is the average working Aussie mum 95% less likely to retire comfortably than the average working Aussie male?
Mary Atley: The Super Mum Index reveals the pressure to be a -super mum' is a contributing factor – with the findings showing almost 80% of Aussie mums admit they suffer from this. Almost two-thirds of the nation's mums claim they focus so heavily on family expenses that this is the key reason they don't top up their super.
Further to this, one in 10 Aussie mums say there is a sense of guilt associated with taking funds away from the household.
With such a high proportion of female members at REST, we recognise the pressure to be a -super mum' has long been a barrier to Aussie women saving for retirement.
Question: What else did this survey find, that was interesting?
Mary Atley: The research also revealed that despite Aussie mums' focus on their children's welfare, almost 39% would turn to their own children first if they were struggling financially during retirement. Sadly, this could prevent their children from positioning themselves adequately financially for their own futures – achieving much the opposite goal.
To complement the findings of the Super Mum Index, REST has also recently undertaken retirement adequacy research. By delving into our database of around 2 million members and generalising this to Australian Bureau of Statistics data for the entire working population, we also discovered the regional breakdown of super adequacy among Australian mums – where working mums in Queensland, South Australia, Western Australian and Tasmania are the least likely to retire comfortably than working mums living in other states.
The largest retirement adequacy gap between working mums and other demographics is in Tasmania, where working mums are less likely to retire comfortably compared to the average Tasmanian worker.
Question: How can we prevent this happening to us?
Mary Atley: We can combat these challenges best by acknowledging them and creating a conversation around superannuation with family and friends through raising the topic across the dinner table, for example.
It's also a matter of referring to an expert, rather than playing a game of chance when it comes to your financial future. At REST, we strongly encourage our members to engage a financial planner to make sure they're choosing the most beneficial investment option.
Question: What is the -Super Mum Index'?
Mary Atley: With a large proportion of our member base being women, we commissioned the -Super Mum Index' to unearth and address the challenges faced by Aussie mums when it comes to superannuation. By surveying more than 1000 mums nationwide and identifying these issues, REST aims to empower women to have brighter financial futures for both their benefit and their family's benefit.
Question: How is REST Industry Super supporting their female members?
Mary Atley: In order to support Australian mums into financially stable retirement, REST is urging our members to take advantage of our financial advice offering. Subject to superannuation laws, REST will pay for its members' first advice on a super-related question over the phone with Money Solutions – a team of financial coaches and planners.
We also provide tips, through our regular communication channels, on how they can maximise their super to retire comfortably.
Question: How can mums who prioritise their children's wellbeing when they are young actually be a disadvantage as they age?
Mary Atley: This is largely because the 90% of Aussie mums who, as the Super Mum index shows, put their children first could end up leaning on their adult children later in life, having not saved adequately for retirement. Of the survey respondents who financially supported their own retired parents, almost seven in 10 admitted they feel the weight of this burden financially and mentally – a predicament which could be easily avoided.
By looking into this further, we found the repercussions of this burden on Aussie mums can include headaches, sleeplessness, anxiety when spending money and tearfulness.
Question: Can you provide your top tips for females regarding their financial futures?
Mary Atley: I'd definitely recommend having the conversation, above all else. Work superannuation into your chats with loved ones. The earlier you and your friends and family start thinking about your financial situations later in life, the more time you'll have to prepare.
In addition to this, Aussie females taking a career break to start a family may want to consider ways of topping up their super while out of the workforce, such as having their partner or spouse make contributions to their savings on their behalf. By doing this, their partner may also be entitled to an income tax offset.
Thirdly, I'd encourage the mums out there to refrain from feeling overwhelmed about topping up their super, and begin doing so in small doses. A small amount each week can make a meaningful difference over time as your savings gather interest.
Lastly, they should consider consolidating their super into one fund, if they haven't done so already. This will save them paying multiple fees and insurance costs.
Question: When and how often should we top up our super contributions?
Mary Atley: It's really a matter of assessing what you can afford – and topping up your super by this much as often as you can. One life event during which it could be good to start topping up your savings is during or after a career break to balance out your time away from employment. Another time you could consider starting to put away a bit extra towards super could be when you receive a salary increase, as you'll be less likely to miss the extra cash.
This information is provided by Retail Employees Superannuation Pty Limited ABN 39 001 987 739 as trustee of REST (Retail Employees Superannuation Trust ABN 62 653 671 394). Registered office: level 7, 50 Carrington Street, Sydney NSW 2000.
Interview by Brooke Hunter