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Solutions to the Gender Gap in Retirement Savings

Lee Nickelson is an Authorised Representative, GWM Adviser Services Limited, Australian Financial Services Licensee

Women in Australia face specific issues when it comes to securing their financial future. Women have significantly less money saved for their retirement – the current average superannuation payout for women is 1/3 that of the payout for men [2]. This results in many women who are retiring on their own facing the possibility of doing so in poverty.
Why is this occurring and how can we help solve this issue?
Lack of superannuation savings can arise from a number of scenarios. Women are more likely to work part time to allow them to perform unpaid work such as caring for family members as well as managing the majority of domestic work at home – whilst the majority of men work full time performing less of these duties.
Women’s employment also tends to congregate in low paid areas such as retail, front line financial services as well as health care and social assistance. Women also often find they sacrifice income for flexibility in working arrangements to allow for their caring obligations.
So how can we address the issue of low super balances?
In my view, one of the ways we can drive cultural change is for both men and women to push for flexible working arrangements. This means challenging the traditional view that men should maintain full time employment whilst women drop to part time employment to raise their young children. If both men and women have access to flexible work hours, then it becomes easier to juggle the caring requirements of young children. This in turn should allow women to work additional hours and build larger superannuation balances in their own right.
What can we do from a practical sense in the mean time?
As a financial planner, we have a number of superannuation strategies we utilise for our clients, each with various benefits. Please seek advice to determine whether these strategies will suit your personal situation.
Contribution Splitting: In certain circumstances, an individual can split up to 85% of their previous years concessional (employer) super contributions with their spouse. This strategy has significant planning benefits including:
• Managing equalisation of superannuation account balances between spouses given the new $1.6 mill cap. Where one client is on track to build a large superannuation balance close to the new $1.6 mill cap, splitting up to 85% of contributions each year can allow the spouse with the lower balance to take full advantage of their cap.
• Where spouses have an age difference, there may be a difference in the years where superannuation can be accessed. Splitting contributions to the older spouse means superannuation benefits that would otherwise not be eligible to be accessed due to age restrictions, will become accessible to the elder spouse earlier under the low-rate tax threshold.
• Where spouses have an age difference, there may be Age Pension planning benefits to split contributions to the younger spouse. This is because superannuation only becomes an assessable asset once you become eligible for the Age Pension.

Leanne is 57 and is planning on retiring in the near future. Her husband John is 47 and earns $100,000 p.a. as a contractor. During the year, John contributes $25,000 into his super, reducing his taxable income to $75,000. Then in August, John opts to split $18,750 into Leanne’s super. These contributions will boost Leanne’s balance and become available for her to withdraw from super tax free under the low-rate tax threshold when she retires – effectively allowing John to reduce his income tax whilst not locking away the funds until John retires.

Spouse Contributions and tax offset: In certain circumstances, if an individual has an assessable income (plus reportable employer super contributions and reportable fringe benefits) of $37,000 or less, their spouse can make a contribution of $3,000 into the low-income spouse’s super account and receive a tax offset of up to $540. This will boost the super balance of the spouse whilst saving tax for the high-income earner.
Tony currently earns $90,000 p.a. and is married to Sophie, who works part time earning $30,000 p.a. Tony receives a bonus and opts to contribute $3,000 into Sophie’s super fund. By doing this, Tony receives a rebate in his tax return which reduces the tax he will pay by $540.
So, if you would like to hear more about these strategies and how they can help you, please contact Income Solutions for a catch up.

[2] Ross Clare, ‘Are retirement savings on track?’ (The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia Limited 2007).
Any advice in this publication is of a general nature only and has not been tailored to your personal circumstances. Please seek personal advice prior to acting on this information. The information in this document reflects our understanding of existing legislation, proposed legislation, rulings etc as at the date of issue. In some cases the information has been provided to us by third parties. While it is believed the information is accurate and reliable, this is not guaranteed in any way. Opinions constitute our judgement at the time of issue and are subject to change. Neither, the Licensee or any of the National Australia group of companies, nor their employees or directors give any warranty of accuracy, nor accept any responsibility for errors or omissions in this document. Before making a decision to acquire a financial product, you should obtain and read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) relating to that product.
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Is Rent Money Dead Money?

In the eyes of a 24 year old

Let’s face it; at one stage or another, we have all been advised that rent money is dead money. Sound familiar? Maybe you can relate to one of the following examples:

  • ‘Why would you pay all that money so your landlord can pay off their mortgage?’
  • ‘Why would you waste all that money when you’ll have nothing to show for it?’
  • ‘If you had of been paying a mortgage off instead, you have paid off your most valuable asset.’

Firstly, the definition of an asset is something that pays you.

The definition of a liability is simply something that you are required to pay for.

Let’s take these definitions and apply it to our situation when we own a house.

A house:

  • Asks us to put our hand in our pocket to pay for it
  • Accrues rates & insurances
  • Requires all kinds of maintenance
  • Even the government takes their slice of our property thanks to stamp duty – great!

I now ask you, is your house truly an asset?

Circling back to the age-old question in Australia: Is rent money, dead money?

I’ll counter by asking: is interest payable to the bank dead money?

If you were to borrow $400,000 tomorrow at today’s record-low interest rates, and make principle and interest repayments at 4.5% over 30 years, you would repay $729,130, with your initial weekly liability being $467. Not too bad? $211 of which is the interest portion of your loan. Meaning, over the course of your loan, you would pay an approximate $329,626 in interest to the bank. Thank you very much says the CBA CEO. **

So, assuming a 20% deposit, it is costing you $467 per week, or $24,288 per year, to live in a house with a perceived value of roughly $500,000. But is it? At Income Solutions we reasonably assume annual expenses (rates, maintenance, etc.) to average at least 1.5% of the property’s value each year. Therefore, throw around $7,500 on top of your existing $24,284. Roughly, on average, it will cost you a touch over $31,000 per year to run the house you own.

Let’s say I rent the same house at an assumed rent price of $450 per week. This works out to be around $23,400 per year. And that is where my dwelling expenses stop. As a tenant, I have no obligation to pay any maintenance, rates or property management fees. This is the landlord’s responsibility. I simply pay my rent on time, and because my dwelling expenses are so low, I do not make a fuss when my landlord attempts to increase the rent by $20 a week every few years. As I pay on time and look after the place, the landlord is more than happy to keep re-signing me to 2-year lease agreements, providing me some security. Therefore, I pay $450 per week, compared to the landlords $611[1].

This is where renting becomes interesting. I am paying $161 less than the landlord/homeowner per week, so let’s say I use this, add another $50 to equal the $211 the landlord pays in interest in year 1 of the loan[2] and contribute this to a tax-effective income-producing asset, over the same 30-year period.

Basically, the difference between what I pay in rent per week, and the total amount the landlord/homeowner pays to own the home per week.

Assuming an annual return of a conservative 9.5%, (the Australian Share market has averaged a return of around 12.5% over the past 100 years) the power of compounding becomes your friend here, as my $211 weekly investment for 30 years would grow to a modest $2.9 million dollars. Again, this is a conservative figure, and it also assumes I never contribute more than $211 per week over the course of my working life. I’ll be 54 by this stage, and thanks to the Franking Credit system, this $2.9 million can reasonably produce me a cool, highly franked, beautiful income stream of approximately $178,000. Enough to retire, I think.

At the end of the loan period, the homeowner is hoping the value of their property has grown to at least equal to the total amount spent on the property, which in this scenario is around $945,000. If they were 24 when they bought the home, they have finally paid it off at age 54. However, they have had to find more disposable income on top of their weekly $611, which has been swallowed by their house for 30 years, to contribute to some form of financial asset. They may own their house outright, but we know our house does not produce us any income, it actually asks us for a share of ours to service it. There is a potential that they will be examples of the typical ‘asset rich, income poor’ description we sadly see too often in this country.

By renting and spending the same $611 per week, I can own an asset and not a liability. If I would like to own my dream home, I will simply withdraw the $945,000 from my investment and pay for it in cash, no interest paid to the bank. Furthermore, I’ll still have around $2mil producing me highly Franked income.

Rather than paying interest to the bank, I’d rather get paid by the bank.

 

Now, is rent money dead money?

 

*All figures are present value.

[1] This includes the P and I repayments, and the averaged costs of $7,500, broken down into a weekly figure.

[2] The interest payable will reduce over the loan term, however, the $467 will remain constant.

https://www.yourmortgage.com.au/calculators/home-loan-repayment/result/

Any advice in this publication is of a general nature only and has not been tailored to your personal circumstances. Please seek personal advice prior to acting on this information. The information in this document reflects our understanding of existing legislation, proposed legislation, rulings etc as at the date of issue. In some cases the information has been provided to us by third parties. While it is believed the information is accurate and reliable, this is not guaranteed in any way.  Opinions constitute our judgement at the time of issue and are subject to change. Neither, the Licensee or any of the National Australia group of companies, nor their employees or directors give any warranty of accuracy, nor accept any responsibility for errors or omissions in this document. Before making a decision to acquire a financial product, you should obtain and read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) relating to that product. Past performance is not a reliable guide to future returns. 

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Don’t mention the ‘B’ word…

Lee Nickelson is an Authorised Representative, GWM Adviser Services Limited, Australian Financial Services Licensee

 

To quote Peter Thornhill’s two golden rules of wealth creation:

  1. Spend less than you earn
  2. Borrow less than you can afford ¹

Sounds simple, doesn’t it?!  Hardly!  One of the most common hurdles I encounter with clients is gaining a full understanding of their spending – I estimate only around 25% of clients have a clear idea of where their money is being spent as most people dislike the idea of a budget.

At a basic level, we have control over 3 facets of our ability to earn and maintain wealth – how long we work for, whether we invest to educate ourselves to increase our earning (income) potential, and…. this is often the hardest to manage… how much we spend.

The benefits of having an idea of expenses in comparison to earnings are clear.  You will gain confidence when future decisions on spending are made (yes, I can afford this holiday), you will be able to prioritise spending more easily (would I rather upgrade the car or pay the mortgage back 3 years faster) and you will avoid buyers’ remorse (geeze I shouldn’t have bought these shoes, I’m worried I can’t afford them).

Where to start?  Best to define the difference between the ‘B’ word (budget) and spending analysis

  • A budget is forward looking – an estimate of expenses over a specific period
  • Spending analysis is rear looking – it involves tracking what you have spent over a specific period

There are any number of budgeting and spending analysis theories, tools and programs online which can then be overwhelming.  I find a great place to start for my clients is to get them to split their spending between Non-negotiable items and Negotiable items.  What appears in each list may change from client to client (i.e. holidays may become negotiable for some, whilst Foxtel to watch the football may be non-negotiable for others).  Once the Non-negotiable items list is complete, we minus this from net earnings.  This leaves the amount of funds left over to cover the spending items under Negotiable column.

This blue print allows the spending analysis to happen – is there enough left to fund the negotiable column?  Is a rethink required regarding negotiable and non-negotiable items?  Can money be saved on any of the line items (i.e. reviewing your Electricity bill / home insurance provider)?  Am I saving enough off my mortgage to repay it before retirement?

This analysis is also the confronting part – am I borrowing from my future to fund the lifestyle I am living today?
Once the non-negotiable items are agreed and reviewed, it becomes as simple as dividing this figure by your pay cycle and setting aside this amount each period in a separate ‘bills’ account.  Anything left over can be spent with the confidence and knowledge that you will have enough to cover your non-negotiable expenses.

Unsure how to proceed?  I’d be happy to help you review your spending.  Please contact our Melbourne office to set an appointment.

1             Thornhill, P. (2003) Motivated money. Gordon, N.S.W.: Motivated Money.
Any advice in this publication is of a general nature only and has not been tailored to your personal circumstances. Please seek personal advice prior to acting on this information. The information in this document reflects our understanding of existing legislation, proposed legislation, rulings etc as at the date of issue. In some cases the information has been provided to us by third parties. While it is believed the information is accurate and reliable, this is not guaranteed in any way. Opinions constitute our judgement at the time of issue and are subject to change. Neither, the Licensee or any of the National Australia group of companies, nor their employees or directors give any warranty of accuracy, nor accept any responsibility for errors or omissions in this document. Before making a decision to acquire a financial product, you should obtain and read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) relating to that product.
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What Do We Talk To Our Clients About?

Elise Ryan is an authorised Representative, GWM Adviser Services Limited, Australian Financial Services Licensee

We like to focus on their education, and we run five different seminars each month

  • Common Sense Investing
  • Common Sense Estate Planning
  • Pivot – Your Future Starts Now
  • Kickstart!
  • Income Solutions for Women

We have built a well-researched process for clients when they are

The best investment you will ever make is in yourself, and we believe this investment is not only financially focused. At Income Solutions we encourage our clients to invest in education, health and fitness, career and following your goals.

A big focus when talking to our clients is around their goals, what they want to achieve, and we work with them to build a strategy to help them achieve it. We try and make it easy, we know your goals don’t come to you in meeting with your advisor, for this reason we built the my.solutions application. This enables you to log in 24/7, even when you are on holidays, sipping cocktails by the pool and dreaming of what your future will look like, you can log into my.solutions, pop in your goals, and your advisor will be notified immediately. This allows your advisor to consider strategies before your meeting and help you get the most out of your appointments.

Any advice in this publication is of a general nature only and has not been tailored to your personal circumstances. Please seek personal advice prior to acting on this information. The information in this document reflects our understanding of existing legislation, proposed legislation, rulings etc as at the date of issue. In some cases the information has been provided to us by third parties. While it is believed the information is accurate and reliable, this is not guaranteed in any way.  Opinions constitute our judgement at the time of issue and are subject to change. Neither, the Licensee or any of the National Australia group of companies, nor their employees or directors give any warranty of accuracy, nor accept any responsibility for errors or omissions in this document.
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You don’t need money to start investing

Kane Leersen is an authorised Representative, GWM Adviser Services Limited, Australian Financial Services Licensee

I regularly hear people stating that they do not have enough money to start investing. Anyone can start investing, right at this second. You don’t even need money to start investing. Sounds silly, doesn’t it? You might not believe me, but this is fact. Investing in yourself, your family and your future.

Now before you start shaking your head and muttering that I have lost my marbles, bear with me and I will tell you how you can do this with three different ways, anyone can start investing, and by anyone, I mean anyone. Teenagers, parents, millionaires, grandmas and granddads.  So no excuses because this applies to you. I will give you the strategies, but then it’s up to you to take responsibility.

 

1. Start investing in yourself. 

Now, this is the easiest and the hardest investment to make, it’s also the most rewarding and by far the most valuable. You can start nice and simple and slowly progress it from there. Your first investment in yourself is to finish reading this article. Open up your mind to different ideas and strategies. Go onto bookdepositry.com, amazon.com, dymocks.com.au, or pop into your local book store and purchase any book that piques your interest. Read what ever your heart desires. Personal development, sci-fi, autobiographies, finance, marketing. It doesn’t matter what it is, just read as much as you can. Learn from other peoples experiences, highlight words you don’t understand, write questions on the side of the page.

The next step, when you are feeling ready, enrol in that course you always wanted to do. Make sure, no matter how long it takes you, finish that course. Then maybe find another course, never stop learning. Find yourself a mentor, someone doing something you have always wanted to do and ask them how they have done it, why they do it and what have they learnt from these experiences. Turn up to work early and tell your boss that you want to be the best employee that you can be.

All of these little investments eventually add up and they make you the rare and valuable asset. Remember, every day we are going to work we are trading our time for money. By being the best that you can be, you will make your time as expensive as possible.

 

2. Invest a few dollars, regularly

Now that you have started investing in yourself you can start to invest some money for your future. Maybe you have received a payrise, or picked up a few extra shifts.

Now the next step.

To start investing money you do not need hundreds of thousands of dollars, you don’t even need thousands of dollars. Many of my clients start investing in the hundreds, the trick is to do it regularly, don’t try and be too clever and most of all ask for advice if you are not quite sure.

I have recently purchased the 300 biggest companies in Australia, 300 of the biggest and brightest companies built by some of the best brains in Australia. The best part is, these companies are going to pay me to invest in them! Imagine, this investment returns around 10% for shareholders over the next five years. If I contribute $200 a week this means I will be investing $10,400 a year. On a 10% rate of return, I could have $69,842 invested in five years time. Not a bad investment, when we consider the early years of compounding returns are the hardest!


3. Invest in your superannuation

In Australia it is compulsory for businesses to pay 9.5% of your wage into a superannuation account for your working life. The reality is many Australians don’t understand the impact of what our employers are doing for us. Many people haven’t consolidated multiple superannuation funds into one account. They don’t ensure that they have appropriate levels of insurance to protect their family if something goes wrong. They have no idea that they can invest in just about anything they want inside of their superannuation, no different to everyday life.

Yes, inside super we can buy shares, we can buy property, we can have term deposits. We don’t have to rely on the default option. You can even put more money into superannuation to help it grow by salary sacrificing from your wage before you have paid tax. You can also contribute your inheritance after you have paid tax.

So my challenge to you is to step up, and take charge. I don’t want any excuses. We all know life can be hard sometimes, but we also must be thankful that we are living through a period of time that has generously provided us with an abundance of wealth. Think of running water, electricity, employment, aviation and globalisation for example.

So please master these three investments. Invest in yourself, start investing a little a lot and understand what your superannuation is doing. It is simple and incredibly effective. Fortunately or unfortunately, it requires discipline, commitment and understanding.

Good luck.

 

Any advice in this publication is of a general nature only and has not been tailored to your personal circumstances. Please seek personal advice prior to acting on this information. The information in this document reflects our understanding of existing legislation, proposed legislation, rulings etc as at the date of issue. In some cases the information has been provided to us by third parties. While it is believed the information is accurate and reliable, this is not guaranteed in any way.  Opinions constitute our judgement at the time of issue and are subject to change. Neither, the Licensee or any of the National Australia group of companies, nor their employees or directors give any warranty of accuracy, nor accept any responsibility for errors or omissions in this document. Before making a decision to acquire a financial product, you should obtain and read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) relating to that product. Past performance is not a reliable guide to future returns. 
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