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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Carberry

5 ways women can take financial control

Financial independence is an essential aspect of female empowerment. Here’s how to achieve it. In many households, women often take a back seat when it comes to navigating their family’s financial future. But this can make it difficult for women to become financially independent – especially if they’re ever faced with divorce, separation or widowhood.

That’s why it’s so important for women to engage with their finances and not leave everything up to their partner – or to chance. Here are 5 simple things you can do right now to take control.

1. Create a household budget

If you’re living from one pay cheque to the next, it can be almost impossible to get ahead. That’s why it’s so important to have a budget for the entire household – and stick to it. Start by making a list of your income, including your regular earnings and other things like government benefits and investment returns.

Then, write a list of your expenses over the same period, such as groceries, bills, school fees, transport costs and rent or mortgage payments. By comparing the two lists, you should be able to see if your finances are on track – or if you need to make any changes.

2. Keep track of your spending

If you’re not paying attention, it’s easy to let money trickle through your hands. For example, your $4 a day coffee habit may seem like small change, but those gold coins could easily add up to $1,500 or more over the course of a year.

By monitoring your spending, you’ll have a better of sense of where your money is going. You might even find some expenses that you could trim, so you can instead put money aside for a rainy day.

Try this: for one week, write down every cent you spend and encourage your family to do the same. Then, categorise your spending into ‘essential’ and ‘nonessential’ buckets, so you can prioritise where your money should go.

Work together to set a savings goal and check in regularly to hold each family member accountable, giving yourself the best chance of success.

3. Boost your super

When it comes to saving for retirement, women can end up falling behind. Since women working full time earn an average of $245 per week less than men, this means they have less going into their super through compulsory employer contributions.*

Women are also more likely to take career breaks and work part-time while they’re raising children. That’s another reason why the median super balance for women at preservation age is just $96,000 – compared to $166,000 for men.**

While it’s tempting to rely on your partner’s savings for retirement, you want to make sure you’ll be self-sufficient if the unexpected happens. Putting a super strategy in place can make all the difference to the type of lifestyle you can enjoy when you retire – whether you’re with a partner, or on your own.

4. Review your Will

Almost half of all Australians die without a legal Will, which means leaving it up to the laws of intestacy to decide what happens to their estate.*** Making a Will can ensure your hard-earned assets are distributed according to your wishes, so your loved ones will be taken care of after you’re gone.

Since your financial and life circumstances can change over time, it’s also important to review your Will regularly. For example, if you get divorced, you may not want your ex-spouse to receive a portion of your estate. That’s why it’s important to keep your solicitor or financial adviser in the loop in case you need to make any changes to your estate plan.

It’s also important to make plans for assets that may not form part of your estate or be governed by your Will. This could include making a binding death benefit nomination to decide which eligible beneficiaries will receive your superannuation benefits, or nomination beneficiaries to receive life insurance proceeds.

5. Talk to your financial adviser

If you’re serious about taking control of your finances, your financial adviser should be your first port of call. As well as helping you manage your cashflow and savings, they can show you how to build strong financial habits that will last a lifetime.

With the support and guidance of your adviser, you can feel confident knowing you’re on track towards achieving total financial independence.

* Workplace Gender Equality Agency, Australia’s gender pay gap statistics, August 2018.

** Australian Bureau of Statistics, Gender indicators, Australia, September 2018.

*** ASIC MoneySmart, Wills & powers of attorney, October 2017.

This document contains general advice. It does not take account of your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider talking to a Financial Adviser before making a financial decision. This document has been prepared by Count Financial Limited ABN 19 001 974 625, AFSL 227232, (Count) a wholly-owned, nonguaranteed subsidiary of Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124. ‘Count’ and Count Wealth Accountants® are trading names of Count. Count Financial Advisers are authorised representatives of Count. Information in this document is based on current regulatory requirements and laws, as at 22 January 2019, which may be subject to change. While care has been taken in the preparation of this document, no liability is accepted by Count, its related entities, agents and employees for any loss arising from reliance on this document. The Q&As in this publication are hypothetical scenarios and for illustrative purposes only. Count is registered with the Tax Practitioners Board as a Registered Tax (Financial) Adviser. However your authorised representative may not be a Registered Tax Agent, consequently tax considerations are general in nature and do not include an assessment of your overall tax position. You should seek tax advice from a Registered Tax Agent. Should you wish to opt out of receiving direct marketing material from your adviser, please notify your adviser by email, phone or in writing.

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