In addition to the scourge of the gender pay gap, there are a number of other issues women should bear in mind when planning their financial future. Make sure you will be secure if he doesn’t put a ring on it (thanks, Beyonce) by following these top tips for developing and maintaining your financial security.
Plan for career breaks
As a general rule, women are more likely to have bigger break periods in their careers than men. And we’re not talking island holidays. While many women take maternity leave when they decide to have children, there are other factors that can keep you out of the office too.
“Many family duties, such as caring for elderly parents, tend to fall on single women,” says Anne Graham, managing director at McPhail HLG Financial Planning.
She warns that it’s imperative to be aware of this and plan accordingly by maintaining a healthy savings account to tide you over during those unexpected employment gaps.
Debit not credit
Make it your mantra. If shopping is a weak spot, Ms Graham recommends using a debit card to enforce a realistic limit.
If you must use a credit card, Tamia Gallego, founder of financial community website Women In The Black, suggests having one – and only one – with a low limit.
“High limits reduce your borrowing power,” says Ms Gallego.
“If you have a credit card limit of $20,000, this reduces your borrowing capacity by $80,000. This would not be helpful when applying for a home loan.”
Remember, ladies: debt is the devil.
Budgeting may sound boring, but it can be your best friend.
Ms Gallego suggests you plan a budget that ensures you save for the future, but also splurge occasionally.
“Stick to the budget, but allow yourself to buy the Prada bag or treat yourself to an annual holiday,” she says.
Schedule social outings
Cocktails, dinners and movie tickets can add up, so Ms. Gallego advises that you “schedule and prioritise” if you have busy social calendar.
Automate your savings
Women have plenty to worry about without having to remember to put aside money each week.
Take the pressure off by setting up an automatic deposit into savings accounts.
“Have different online saver accounts for things such as a home deposit, car insurance and registration, health and other insurances, annual premiums,” says Ms Gallego.
It can also help to limit yourself to a cash amount for the week, to give you a visual indicator of how much spending money you have for the week.
Make additional contributions to your super
According to HESTA CEO Anne-Marie Corboy, women’s superannuation varies because it is “impacted by career breaks, a greater tendency to work part time and because women are still paid less than their male counterparts.”
As women tend to live longer than men, preparing for your retirement is particularly important.
Ms Gallego says it’s important to commit to contributing a set percentage of your gross income to your super, rather than a fixed dollar amount. This ensures that “as your income rises, so too do your contributions”.
Invest in property when you can
If you’re single, it can be a challenge to get a foot on the property ladder. While it’s tempting to defer buying your first home until there’s someone to share the financial burden, it’s best not to hang around for a knight in shining armour who might never turn up.
“Get into property when you can,” says Ms Gallego, “Don’t wait for a man to come along.”
She suggests starting small and creating a share portfolio with $2000 to $5000. Websites like Intelligent Investor can be helpful if you need guidance.
Insurance is key
HESTA suggests you chat to your superannuation fund to first see what level of default insurance they offer before expanding your cover.
If you’re a single mother, life insurance is crucial to protect your kids in case of any unforeseen circumstances.
Ms Gallego also encourages single women to have income protection insurance payable up to 65 years of age.