This is the reality. Women are the primary care-givers in Australia, so when we retire it’s with approximately half the superannuation that men finish their working lives with. This in itself is enough to sound financial alarm bells, but when you add in the fact that the full-time gender pay gap is 15.3 per cent (Workplace Gender Equality Agency Australian Government) and that women take time out to raise kids and often work part-time when returning to the workforce, then financial distress could be just around the corner.
The business of being a working woman, mother and household genie has got whiskers on it. Women are told they can have it all and look fantastic while doing it to boot. Of course you have plenty of time to groom, exercise and eat the ideal organic diet for premium energy output, don’t you? Trying to be everything to everyone means something has to slide, and that can often be your relationship. If you do divorce as a middle-age woman, it’s unlikely you’ll remarry, while your 50-year-old-plus ex-partner will. According to 2001 Census data, 58.4 percent of men will remarry after 50 and only 41 per cent of women will get the chance.
So what does all this statistical doom and gloom mean if you’re a woman? Money matters and so does financial freedom. If you’re not keen on the idea of being one of the 34 per cent of single women over 60 living in poverty (Australian Aging Agenda), then planning ahead is crucial and that means trying to foresee things that may happen. Think domestic violence, mental or physical illness or separation. If you are going to take time out to have children then perhaps you’ll need to retrain before going back to work or work part-time from home to keep your foot in the door. Either way, being financially independent is crucial to dodging a whole range of life’s unpredictable curve balls.
Oh, and have a word to your daughters too. The younger they start thinking about the need to look after themselves financially, the better.