Super trooper

I made the unfortunate mistake during the school holidays to show my girls the film Mamma Mia (WHAT WAS I THINKING?!) which has started a fierce love affair with all things Abba. It dawned on me just how inappropriate it was for Harps, age 6, to be belting out at the drop of a hat with full force “Gimme Gimme Gimme a MAN AFTER MIDNIGHT!” but they have been loving it.

But that’s besides the point.

I was driving into town the other day listening to The World Today on 702 catching up on the budget and what the breakdown of it all was. Apparently our parents need to be “shelling out” for us? Those baby boomers and their greedy property ways that have pushed so many out of the property market. There was plenty I was uninterested in (people who earn over $1.6 million…PARDON?!) and then about women who re-enter the workforce after an extended period of time to try and “catch up” on their super. This is all very vague because I had to keep turning around every 5 second to pick up something from the floor that Maggie had dropped, but it got me thinking a little about my own situation, and in particular, my super. Or lack thereof.

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I entered the full time workforce pretty much as soon as I left university. There was a massive HECS debt to pay off, rent, expenses, drinking money and the odd saving for travel, and super was the furtherest thing from my mind much of the time. Actually working in the finance money and in particular in Financial Planning superannuation became much more important to me a few years later. I rolled over all my funds into the one fund, got insurance attached to that, chose the type of investment fund I was in and actively took an interest in it, I mean THIS is what we’ll have when we are older.

And then I quit work, about 6 years ago, and I haven’t done a damn thing about it since.

It’s not good is it? Working as a full time stay at home Mum, like many of you do, our super just gets ignored. Even with me working self-employed through freelance writing or making money through my blog, while I get paid and I pay my quarterly BAS, I never make a contribution to my super fund.

It’s actually a bit scary isn’t it?

Having seen my Mum and stepdad make the recent move down to the Highlands and start their own “semi-retirement” I know just how much money we need to live. Both of them have worked hard their entire lives, but don’t have lots of savings or property to show for it. I know there’s loads of baby boomers who have hit retirement doing well for themselves indeed, and are able to help their kids with money for houses or school fees or whatever it is, but shit, there’s a whole lot of people about to hit this age that don’t. What about the cost of retirement housing or aged care? The medical costs that incur with old age that are going to hit all our baby boomer parents soon enough. I’ve seen the expense and time needed through Rob’s Step Grandma and my own Step Mum’s Mum. It costs a whole lot of money.

Sure, I’m getting a little ahead of myself here, but I really worry about this stuff. The whole generation of baby boomers about to head into retirement and need the pension, reply on their own families for support and of course the lack of super that so many women my own age have NOW that will make a difference down the line.

Anyone else think about this stuff too?
Perhaps I was getting a little deep on this drive?

All I know is that when I am older I plan on looking like this:

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So I better start savings that super so I can buy red sneakers whenever the hell I want to.

How’s your super? Healthy or non existent?
Are your parents retired or heading into retirement?
Should I just keep ignoring all this and hope it will go away? I don’t think it will…

Comments

  1. So for the first year since I started working for myself, like you 6 years ago, I am making a voluntary contribution to my super this month, there’s also a few good tax benefits to it. Super is something that worries me too!

  2. This is the stuff that keeps me awake at night, and I don’t think there is any simple answer. I’m worried that doing the best I can, and hoping for the best just doesn’t cut it. I also tend to think that the people who benefit most from superannuation firms are their board members. Taking a self sufficient approach to savings as well as the backyard veggie patch feels like it might be a winner? I just don’t feel I can rely on banks or the government to look after my money or my retirement.

  3. We have been very conscious about both retirement and being able to help our kids when the time comes. For the first few years I wasn’t working full time (and paying super) we did nothing, but then realised that we needed to do something. So we have saved, invested and put away for both retirement and the kids.

    I was sparked to action when a friend worked out how many pay cycles he had left in his working life, I was shocked and it suddenly made it all real!

  4. Yup, you read my mind! Now I’m looking after a gorgeous wee 6 month baby and furiously hoping to get part time freelance work I know my own super is going to be bottom of the list after household bills and childcare. My old boss used to call this mum-always-looks-after-herself-last business “the burnt chop syndrome”. You know, you always serve everyone else first and yourself last. Enough! We NEED to look after our futures! We all deserve red sneakers!

    P.s. I’ve heard its cheaper to live on a cruise ship than a retirement home so that’s my plan, want to join me?

  5. We have super and it’s nice to know it’s there. We’ve also encouraged our two daughters to study at our local university which fortunately is a great Uni for both of their degrees. They have the comforts of home and are still able to have a part time job, if they’d moved away they would be working in their free time and not able to come home as much. They are great kids and we’d miss them, I know they will do placements and work overseas so we’re hanging on to them for as long we can. We looked in to how much it would cost if they lived on campus at various universities and it was about $10000/yr so with five year and four year degrees we figure we are saving a fortune and still helping our kids. We still have one in high school. Our parents helped us out and now we can do a little to help set our kids up and still manage to travel a bit.

  6. We had the panic a couple of years back when we decided that I needed life insurance to the nth degree and all other sorts of insurance, and a new super scheme which is somehow attached. We realised that if anything happened to me, as the one who runs the home, he would be up the creek taking it all on, and trying to keep his business going.
    Then last year we had the whole financial planner thing leap into action, as we realised that we want to retire by 60 and not have to sell the house Our kids are similar in age to your two eldest – I imagine in 12 years time they’ll still be dependant on us. So, at this point it seems we are on track!
    My parents are retired well and truly. They were both able to do that at 60 – so they’ve been enjoying their free time for a while now – lots of going down the beach every day when they’re home, helping out with grandchildren, and travelling the globe. Half their luck!!

  7. Lisa Mckenzie says

    Husband does all the super stuff but yes I know first hand from my Dad,Mum is no longer here ?How much money you need to retire it is a tad scary but start in your 40s Beth.I want to buy red sneakers too and travel and have some fun!

  8. well working for the New Zealand government on $30K a year (30 hours a week and only paid for 40/52 weeks a year too), my super (Kiwisaver) is yeah, nah, a joke. We are not paid super on top of salaries over the ditch either (and salaries are 30% lower than you guys anyhow). Thank God for the husband is all I’ll say. (But truly I’ll be okay as mortgage free which helps).
    Always wanted to know what HECS is – we pay dollars up front for university here.. no fees paid before you begin, no study… I’m on my 6th paper in the past two years and have already shelled out $7K out of my own pocket for fees…

    • You guys really do it tough over there! HECS is just for Higher education something scheme (can’t remember) GOVT pays for fees and you pay them back when you are earning enough to do so.

  9. I have a bit of super, my partner is freelance and his is basically non existent. We saw an advisor as my work is moving more towards freelancing and we are thinking of starting our own fund and buying a property with it. It is a good way to build up a nest egg. I freaked too when we met with the planner! But there are things you can do…

  10. One of the advantages of being an employee. My employer pays 15% of my salary into super, I top it up with a further 10%. Means we have to budget a little more now. But as a family already have over $500,000 in super and still have 20 years to go. All women really need to make the effort to educate themselves and set up and contribute to their own find. Don’t rely on your husband – older single women are some of the people most at risk of poverty. Visit money.gov.au website

  11. If I could time travel, I would visit my younger self and convince her to make voluntary super contributions from day one!!
    If you just put a little bit extra in early on, over the decades it builds and builds.
    My superannuation is a MESS, and as a single gal, fast approaching 50, with gaps from seasons out of work, it’s a bit of a worry.
    Gulp.

  12. dirtgirl says

    In the late 70’s I joined the NSW Public Service after time at home with my first child. As I was just under 30 I was obligated to join a compulsory super fund. I remember crying at having to fork out $20 fortnight in super payments, that I just could not afford. Obviously this amount changed over the decades as my salary increased. However years later when retiring at 60 I was so glad of this compulsory scheme as I now receive an adequate super pension each fortnight. It’s not a huge amount, but I know I will have an income to keep my head above water until the day I cark it.
    I have instilled into my kids just how important paying into a Superannuation fund is for future security.

    • It’s SO important…one of the good things about employed is having someone make the decision for you! Time for me to give myself a kick!

  13. I haven’t been working for the man for nearly 10 years now and haven’t done the best job of making super contributions to my self employed self. It does concern me at times that there is potential not to have ‘enough’ at retirement…it’s kinda worrying but I hope that we’ve made some decent financial decisions up until now and will continue to do so into the future.

    All this adulting is hard work, so much serious stuff to consider!

  14. This scares the crap out of me. I’m a self-employed single mum and have only made one super cont in 8 years since I left full time employment. I’m going to be getting my red sneakers from the op shop I think!!

    • I hear you Jayne….every bit of cash is needed at this stage isn’t it? Super just seems the last thing! Definitely one of the hard bits of being self employed.

  15. Great reminder Beth!

    My super is pretty well non-existent. I used to do a lot of contract work and whilst I did have it in my contracts that they paid super for me you didn’t used to be able to choose where it went so at one stage I am certain I had about 10 different super funds. I was lucky that at one point when I was in advertising my mentor took me aside and grabbed all my accounts and consolidated them into one account. I had 10k that went in and then the stock market crashed! I got a statement that said I only had 8k! My dad said to not look at the statement because I couldn’t take the money out anyway so it didn’t matter. It has slowly built back up over time and is now back up over the 10k start point but not much! These days I have two super funds and I need to consolidate them but even doing that at 45 I won’t have any more than 20k in super.

    Arrrrggggghhhhhh I hate the fact that hubby and I have basically been working for the same number of years but because I have done a lot of contracting, time out for raising our kids and now a mental health break he has close to 10x the super I have! It is so generous of the gov’t to offer tax breaks for extra contributions for mother’s returning to work, the fact they forget is most mother’s I know are not returning to work because they have extra cash to whack into super it is to pay the bloody bills!! But that is another bugbear all together for another day.

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