Superannuation During Your Career Break

By Mary Atley
on 29 January 2018

Super, it gets a bad rap. It might be that it’s a reminder we’ll be older and retired soon, or too much of a long-term goal (when goodness knows we have enough short-term priorities on our plates!), but it sure isn’t something people like to talk about.

But as working women – with very real-life challenges, considerations and commitments – we need to talk about it. Research findings launched by REST Industry Super this week revealed that on average, women who take one career break are $280,000 behind men who also take one career break when it comes to our superannuation savings. This is due to the career breaks we’re taking – 4.2 by the time we’re 67 to be exact – such as maternity leave, caring for family, sabbaticals and travel, health, and education.

But it’s not the career breaks doing the damage, it’s our financial considerations – or lack thereof. Despite being more likely to take a break by choice, women are 30% less likely than men to financially plan for career breaks in terms of their superannuation. In fact, according to the research, only 6% of women surveyed consult a financial advisor before taking a career break and only 16% of women make a financial contribution to their superannuation savings during their break.

It’s a lack of planning that’s resulting in a whopping near-$160,000 hit to our superannuation savings.

Fortunately (yes, there is good news!), it doesn’t need to be this way. Here are three simple steps you can take to make sure that just because life happens, you aren’t missing out in the long run.

Speak to an Expert

Don’t just take my word for it. Most super funds (like REST) will offer you a chat with a qualified financial advisor who will be able to tailor a piece of advice to suit your unique needs – and make sure that your super doesn’t take a break while you do.

Top Up Your Superannuation Before You Take a Break

It might be surprising, but the majority of your retirement savings are typically comprised of money you’ve earned in interest on the money you’ve put in. This is thanks to the magic of compound interest so that every dollar you earn goes on to earn you more money in the longer term. So take advantage of it, and put a little extra in now (before you take a break) so that it’s working for you while you’re not working.

Lean in and Lean on

Check if you’re eligible for a spousal contribution. Your partner can help top up your superannuation during your time off work by making concessional (before-tax) contributions to your super fund. Alternatively, your partner can make additional contributions to their own account and split these contributions with you. You can also make voluntary contributions to your super.

Current as of 30 January 2018.  This information is provided by Retail Employees Superannuation Pty Limited as trustee of REST (Retail Employees Superannuation Trust).

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