It’s no secret that women continue to be disadvantaged when it comes to securing their future wealth. However, the trend appears to be getting worse. The latest Australian Census data reported the number of women over 55 experiencing homelessness increased by 31% over the last 5 years.
While in Australia women now comprise 47% of the workforce, sadly they continue to be left behind when it comes to putting away superannuation and saving for retirement. We see, on average, women retiring with 24% less super than their male counterparts. And with women living approximately four years longer than men, they are running out of super much earlier.
While these statistics can be scary, they can also fuel a drive in women to find investment options that will allow them to build their wealth and live comfortably, even after they retire.
You don’t have to become a statistic. We will look at different strategies women can adopt to safeguard their futures and begin putting money away from today.
Women vs men: Different attitudes towards investing
Why do women have different attitudes towards investing than men? Well, it comes down to women and men being fundamentally different. If you’ve read Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus by John Gray, you may have some understanding of this.
Essentially, our brains are wired differently. We know that women are generally more right-brained, meaning we are more creative, imaginative and follow intuition. While men are found to be generally more left-brained and therefore more likely to have analytical minds and be interested in mathematical ideas.
Knowing this, it’s only natural that women tend to have different attitudes towards investing and tend to invest in “safer” investments. The research shows that women are more likely to invest in a fixed-income investment which refers to the type of investments that pay investors a set level of fixed interest or dividends, examples include government or corporate bonds. This type of investment offers a more steady stream of income and is less risky than stocks or crypto.
Women are motivated to invest to gain financial stability, security and independence. Women often lose independence due to more often being the ones taking time off work to have children or look after family, being in charge of the domestic household load and therefore working less.
Women in heteronormative relationships are often dependent on their partners financially, especially when they have young children. Investing, even small amounts over time is a fantastic way for women to start gaining back financial independence.
When looking at crypto, only 15% of crypto investors are female, which highlights the gender imbalance in the crypto space. So why don’t women invest in crypto at the same rate as men? There are various characteristics of cryptocurrency that act as a deterrent for women such as volatility, complexity and timing. As mentioned, women are generally more likely to invest in something more stable such as fixed-income investments, so the variations of cryptocurrency over time can be a turn-off for many women.
As some women can be extremely time poor juggling a job, family, and their personal wellbeing, the complexity of crypto can make it too time-consuming to learn about. These two characteristics coupled with thoughts that it’s too late or they’ve missed the boat, women just aren’t as likely to invest in cryptocurrency.
More and more women around the world are slowly starting to overcome this aversion to risks by investing and diversifying their savings. There’s currently an incredible opportunity for women to start their journey to financial abundance, boost their self-confidence and find monetary independence in the fintech space.
Women should find confidence in the fact that studies show they are actually outperforming men in the investing space. Although men dominate wall street in terms of numbers, it’s women that are quietly achieving better results behind the scenes, earning higher returns and saving more money.
The gender pay gap: Yes, it’s still rampant
It would be ignorant to discuss women’s wealth and not acknowledge the gender pay gap that still exists all over the world. Gender pay inequity is still proving to be a significant issue in Australia, with women earning only 83 cents to the male dollar.
Approximately 34% of women over 60 live in income poverty compared to 27% of men, meaning women are struggling to live a comfortable life with the necessities when they retire. Although this gap has narrowed from 2021 to 2022, research suggests that men are now twice as likely to earn over $120 000 a year than women, and women are substantially over-represented at the bottom level of all earners.
Causes of the gender pay gap include the concentration of women in different occupations and job levels, a lack of investment in women’s job training and stereotypical ideas about women’s roles in the workforce. Women dominate fields such as education and the arts where they are not as well-paid as male-dominated fields such as IT, finance or construction.
Although there has been some progress in mitigating the gender pay gap due to raising the minimum wage, this has mainly closed the gap between lower-wage earners. University-educated women are still experiencing a larger gap as there has been no similar progress and the hourly wage has not shifted at all.
Female graduates starting salaries are 4.9% lower than male graduates, widening to a gap of 15.8% three years after graduation. This has become more significant as 25 years ago, women were much less likely to have a university degree as opposed to nowadays where they are much more likely to have a degree. Even when men and women choose the same degrees, women get paid and rewarded less, so it’s important governments continue to pressure companies to progress toward equal pay.
Last year, Switzerland passed a law that mandates that new fathers take paternity leave to enable gender equality. Countries with the lower gender pay gaps overall are those that have a combination of policies that push toward equality such as affordable childcare and parental leave which cannot be transferred back to women.
Differences in superannuation for men and women
Women in Australia retire with an average of 35% less retirement savings than men. Since the inception of superannuation in Australia in 1983 and the instalment of compulsory employer super payments in 1992, superannuation has had a fairly good reputation. However, it is obvious that the system disadvantages women in a number of ways:
- There is a large gap between the superannuation savings for Australian men and women: Because the current superannuation system is linked to paid work, it overwhelmingly disadvantages women who are more likely to move in and out of paid work to have children or care for family members.
- On average, women live 4 years longer than men: With their lower super balances, they run out of super much earlier.
- Women take more breaks from the workforce to be family carers: Almost twice as many women spend more than five hours a day caring for children than men.
- The knock-on effect of compound interest over time: currently, the average superannuation payout for women is a third of the payout for men, $37,000 (women) compared with $110,000 (men).
The statistics are staggering, and with women comprising almost 50% of the Australian workforce, this just shouldn’t be the case.
5 Strategies to improve your retirement outcomes
Ok, we’ve presented the stats, but what exactly can you do about it? There’s no doubt women have a much bigger task when it comes to saving for their retirement. This is why it’s important to take simple steps to help boost your future savings. There are many ways you can build a comfortable life for yourself after you retire including investing, saving and planning.
1. Build savings early
Putting a small amount of money aside each paycheck and making contributions early in your working life will make a big difference at retirement thanks to compounding interest. This is when the interest you earn on a balance in a savings or investment account is reinvested, earning you more interest. It’s basically money making money.
This also means that you can save much less initially if you have more time for your investment to grow and compound. For those early in their career who may not be able to save consistently, putting what you can away as soon as possible can start you on the right track. The sooner women start their savings, the longer the horizon for their compound interest to get to work.
2. Set up a designated retirement nest egg
Financial planners say the key to retirement planning is to keep it separate from short and medium-term goals such as a house deposit or your child’s education savings. Be clear that the nest egg you are building is to be touched only after you have stopped earning.
One mistake people make is deferring their retirement plan until it’s too late, either, they do not correctly estimate the amount they will need at retirement or they’re focused on those short-to-medium-term goals. It takes a lifetime to build savings that you can live from, but unfortunately, it only takes seconds to lose with a bad investment.
3. Choose your super fund wisely
Preferably have only one super fund as having multiple accounts means it is hard to keep track of how much super you have, and you’ll probably be paying more fees than you should.
4. Invest smart
Invest your money in smart, low-risk investments that are proven to generally go up over the long term (such as gold, real estate, and bonds).
The Australian Dollar has lost more than 50% of its purchasing power in just the last 30 years, whereas gold’s value over the same period has increased more than 465%. It performs exceptionally well over long periods, which makes it a great place to start building your wealth for retirement.
5. Advocate for change
Get involved and do your part to advocate for legislative change to benefit all women.
It’s never too late for women to start investing in their future or looking toward a retirement plan. The earlier you start planning, the more it will pay off. In saying that, women should not feel they are alone if they’ve not started on their investment portfolio or retirement plan yet, as this is a wide-ranging issue that affects many.
Gender inequality is still prevalent in the workplace as well as in the fintech industry. This makes it more challenging for women to build their finances. Nauggets vision is a world where everybody has an opportunity to prosper, and gold can certainly be used as a hedge against the monetary disadvantages that women face.
Nauggets aims to educate and empower women to find financial independence, set up for their futures, and ensure they live comfortable lives, well into retirement. Listen to our podcast episode to hear more details about the monetary issues women face and our best solutions to get women into financial independence.
If you are interested in opening a gold-backed savings account, download the Nauggets app to get started.