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Women generally live longer and retire with less super than their male counterparts. As we join the International Women’s Day #pushforprogress we turn the spotlight on women and super, looking at how much women will need for a comfortable retirement.

We all need to plan ahead for our retirement, but certain factors make superannuation scenarios for men and women quite different.

Women need more super than men because the average woman will live 4 years longer than the average Australian man1. They’ll also retire with 38% less super than men2. This is because superannuation is accrued through continuous work history, but women are more likely to take time out from work to have children or look after family members. Not all women return to work after having children, but if they do then just 25% will work full time3. Women are overly-represented in lower-paying roles (Just 16.5% of CEOs in Australia are women4) and make up 68% of part-time employees5 and 52% of casual employees. When you also take the gender pay gap into account6, they’re likely be paid 15% less than their male peers doing the same role with the same experience and responsibilities.

However, these figures are based on national averages and no individual is ‘average’ by any definition other than those they accept.

Every person, of any gender, can take greater control of their financial futures by arming themselves with information and making small decisions now which could pay great returns in the future.

What retirement lifestyle are you looking forward to?

Australians have higher expectations of their standard of living in retirement, partly because we’re living longer and staying healthier for longer than previous generations.

So exactly how much money will you need for a comfortable lifestyle?

According to the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA), a single female living a comfortable lifestyle will need super savings of $545,0007 and couples will need $640,000 of combined savings on retirement.

However, ASFA’s budget for a “comfortable” lifestyle, shown below, may not match the retirement lifestyle you want.

ASFA's weekly budgets for a “comfortable" lifestyle for couples or singles aged 65 to 85 in retirement

Household goods and services$90.51$73.56
Clothing and footwear$50.65$27.20
Health services$184.97$98.81
Total weekly expenditure$1,168.13$829.82
Total annual expenditure$60,977$43,317
Super savings required (with part age pension)$640,000$545,000

Planning ahead

Understanding how much you’ll need to cover living expenses is the first step in retirement planning, but there are some other factors to consider.

Even with the best planning in place, there is still the chance you may outlive your savings. The timing around when you take retirement, can make a significant difference to the amount of savings you retire with — especially true if you’re looking to fund your retirement with a lump sum payment from your super.

Retirement planning can be complicated, but getting the right advice can help you create a plan to minimise your exposure to these risks and give you the confidence that you’re on the right track to reach your financial goals

1Australian Bureau of Statistics: Life Tables, States, Territories and Australia, 2014-2016
2The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia Limited (ASFA): Superannuation account balances by age and gender
3Australian Bureau of Statistics: Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, January 2018, cat. no. 6291.0
4The Workplace Gender Equality Agency WGEA Data Explorer, 2017
5Australian Bureau of Statistics: Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, January 2018, 6291.0
6Australian Bureau of Statistics: Average Weekly Earnings, Nov 2017, cat. no. 6302.0
7Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia: Retirement Standard benchmark

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