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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Carberry

Four tips to keep you financially ahead of the curve

It’s no revelation that women in Australia still face considerable gaps when it comes to financial wellbeing.

In fact, a new major international report out yesterday, placed Australia equal last in a ranking of the gender pay gap across six countries.

Published by King’s College London in collaboration with The Australian National University, the report determined that Australia, alongside the UK, faced significant gaps in its gender pay gap reporting systems compared with other countries like France, South Africa, Spain and Sweden.

  • Spain came in first with a score of 8.5 out of 11, followed by France on 8.

  • Australia’s score was 4 out of 11.

And it’s not just reporting of the issue that’s the trouble in Australia.

Women face significant systemic barriers when it comes to getting ahead and securing financial independence.

The current superannuation system for example, continues to be linked solely to paid work, and therefore overwhelmingly disadvantages women who are more likely to move in and out of paid work to care for family members.

Flawed government policies around paid parental leave and early childhood education, lead to more women than men taking considerable time out of the workforce to raise families, and on average retiring with nearly half the retirement savings of their male counterparts.

Women are also more likely to come up against hurdles in asking for pay rises and negotiating gender-equal salary bases.

With all this to deal with (plus many more complex and nuanced barriers), it’s an extra kick in the guts to know that the fallout from the pandemic will likely exacerbate this issue and widen many of the gaps that already have us on the back-foot.

While it shouldn’t be up to women to fix the problem, it’s an unfortunate reality that we might be here a while, waiting for government and our employers to get it together.

We’ve collated four tips for you to keep ahead of the curve and mitigate some of the risk of falling behind in a post-pandemic world.

Talk about money!

We need to overcome any social hesitancy that exists and start talking freely about our finances.

Opening up to our friends, family members, partners and managers about the money we’d like to make, the promotions we’d like to gain or the ways in which we’re investing our money isn’t something women have historically done. That’s because of social prescriptions and gender stereotypes that continue to hold us back. But there’s nothing dirty about the M word. Having transparent dialogue about our expectations and arming ourselves with as much knowledge as possible will empower us to make the right financial decisions and stay autonomous.

Superannuation self-care

Before deciding on a super fund, ensure you’ve kept in mind the things that are important to you. How does your selected fund compare with others across key factors? Do you have enough income or disability insurance? Does your fund allow you to to choose the way your money is being invested? Are you paying exorbitant fees?

If you have had multiple jobs, there’s every chance you’ve accrued a few super accounts over your time. In previous years, consolidating your super was a mammoth undertaking, but now it couldn’t be easier. You can log in to ATO online services through myGov to keep track of your super and view the super accounts held for you, as well as the super you already have. Consolidating this into your preferred super account is as simple as a few button clicks.

While you’re navigating the platform, check that your employer is paying the right amount of super each week. The ‘Estimate my Super’ tool will alert you to any shortfalls and there’s an easy reporting mechanism if there are.

Look into investment platforms

Investing in shares can seem daunting to many of us who have never explored this option before. But there are easy ways for Australians to dip their toes in, with investment products and tools becoming more accessible every year. Investing can be a huge financial game-changer so long as you do your research, set investment goals, invest early and make sure you’re only ever putting in what you can afford.

Don’t be scared to ask for a promotion.

If you think you deserve a raise, it’s time to ask for it (because you can bet everything that John and Tom who work beside you, will be doing the same). Build out a business case focusing on the things you’ve achieved and why you deserve it. Be clear in your communication and try to anticipate the questions that your boss might pose in response. Practice your pitch before you go in as well, as it’s easy to get tongue-tied and overwhelmed in the moment. A good employer will obviously recognise your contribution and do everything they can to keep you. Don’t go into the conversation expecting the worst!

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