A study has found a quarter of Australian women don't any money saved for retirement. The research is part of the Federal Government's Women understanding money initiative. Yes, it's a terrible name for an initiative. But it's one we need to talk about.
The surprising thing is, it takes such little effort to get a retirement strategy in place. All you need to do is work out how much income you can live off, when you need it by and how much you need to save before retirement. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission's Fido website has free calculators where you can plan your retirement, and they even explain how to use them.
Then you need to work out what return on your money you need to get where you need to go. Again Fido has calculators that can work this out. You can also look at your current superannuation fund and compare its fees using Fido's calculators.
The reason why you need to understand what your superannuation fund invests in and what fees they charge (something 95 per cent of Australian women don't know) is because you need to know it's possible for your money to grow to where it needs to get to by the time you retire. If it's not possible, you need to look again at your strategy.
One common strategy might be changing from investing in managed funds to index funds due to lower fees. Most managed funds do not outperform index funds, which are funds that track an index such as the All Ordinaries' top 200 stocks.
Another strategy might be changing to property investments where you have more leverage as, when you pay a 30 per cent deposit and borrow 70 per cent of the balance, you can potentially profit from the whole amount not just the 30 per cent you initially put in.
Whatever strategy you decide, it needs to be your decision based on a strategy that works for you because you understand it. There is also risk with anything you look at so you also need to understand the risks to you.
When taking professional advice, which is of course what we are all recommended to do, you still need to understand the risks and costs of what you are doing. You are still ultimately responsible for any of your investments. As many financial advisors will tell you, never invest in anything that you don't understand.
In some ways, the task of finding a good financial professional is the same as finding a good hairdresser; you need to network to find out who the good people are. Then you need to find the one that suits you, but just like your hairdresser, if they cut off too much hair, or pick a bad colour, you end up wearing it. It's the same situation with financial advisers; if they pick a bad product, you pay for it. There are many excellent financial advisors around, so good luck. I hope you look beautiful in the mirror and get your retirement sorted out.
Virginia Graham is a mortgage broker for Model Mortgages.