For most migrants, the early years of settling into a new home are a time of careful money management, if not financial crunch.
From the smallest purchase of kitchen basics, to the major acquisition of their first property, their financial journey is fraught with cautious organisation, and navigated through balancing work and family life, kids’ schooling, and oftentimes, responsibilities of family back home.
Gone are the days when men traditionally took control of the family finances, especially as Indian migrants to Australia are increasingly falling in the educated middle-class category. Yet, the need is stronger now for more women to gain more knowledge and understanding about money and its management.
Today, when women have more choice than ever before, a higher level of education and qualifications than ever before, higher paid jobs than ever before (that significant pay gap notwithstanding), there is no excuse for them to lag behind in their financial management skills.
It is important that they do take time out and start understanding the bigger picture of wealth creation, so that they are financially empowered and take those day-to-day decisions with proficiency.
Upon migration, men may find work quicker and start on their employer-funded mandatory superannuation savings sooner, while their partners may take longer to get into the work force or work less hours as they juggle with their maternal and family responsibilities and work.
With these constraints and a pay gap with their male colleagues, according to the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia, a woman’s superannuation balance is on average 43% less than that of a man. Their research shows that average super balances at retirement currently are $292,500 for men and $138,150 for women. Estimating that a single person needs about $800 per week in retirement, they need to have over $500,000 in superannuation for a comfortable old age.
Another issue to note is that the average life expectancy of women in Australia is 87 years, higher than that of men at 83 years. This means that women will need more funds, and be able to manage their own savings at some point in their life.
So there’s a high likelihood that due to death or even divorce, women may have not only less savings, but will also be solely responsible for their household’s financial management.
Women simply have to get serious about their own financial planning. They need to understand cash flow management, budgeting and planning their monies.
They also need to understand about the various types of insurances available in Australia. In the past few years, there have been unfortunate incidents where a partner has passed away unexpectedly and appeals to the community have gone out to help with short-term expenses for the family. The community has rallied behind the families at these traumatic times. However, to ensure there is long-term security for the family, it is important that the appropriate type of insurances are in place. Women must take greater initiative in understanding and implementing this for their families.
But where to start?
First up, ask questions. Ask friends and family about what they do, and how. Do not be afraid to ask questions on money matters, even if they appear trivial to you.
Get involved in the day-to-day management of your family’s finances if you are not already doing so.
Read about money matters in major newspapers, and listen to related discussions on TV and radio. Use social media to understand more details.
Take time out to attend financial management programs for women. A number of work places and superannuation funds run women-only seminars. Seek these out and let your partner mind the little ones for the evening, while you go out to learn more at these forums. Get empowered in any way you can.
Alongside your professional, physical and emotional well-being, set some time aside to plan for your financial well-being.