Time: a huge problem with women and superannuation

“Oh I just don’t have any time!” How often have you heard that phrase from your female friends? We’re all just so time-poor – all the time. In between work (whether paid or unpaid), domestic responsibilities (of varying degrees), life administration, cooking meals, coordinating activities or projects for school, on our side-hustle (if we have one) exercising, catching up with friends, visiting the relatives, spending quality time with our loved ones, coordinating birthdays and religious celebrations, there’s just so much to do as a woman. It’s enough to overwhelm you. And that’s before we even begin to think about superannuation.

Where does the time go?

The thing is, as women, we spend so much time caring. Caring for children, caring for parents usually. Those lucky women in their 40s are usually called ‘the sandwich generation’, because they’re looking after the generations above and below – like the ham in the sandwich. Then we’re caring for our partners, our friends, our community. And ‘caring’ isn’t defined to just ‘I’m thinking about you’ or ‘I’ll send you a nice text message’. No, it tends to be far more active; running errands, making food, coordinating bill payments and driving people from here to there.

This latest HILDA report tells us that, excluding childcare, women spend around 14 hours more on domestic duties each week compared to men. That’s the equivalent of 2 days of full-time work. Sounds like a huge amount doesn’t it! This is not to say we should stop caring for others – far from it. But being conscious that it all adds up and prevents you from earning income – and therefore superannuation – is the first step. If you’ve ever wondered what the value of all your unpaid work actually costs us, try our unpaid work calculator. And for a broader social picture on the value of caring, this Jane Caro interview on ABC Drum puts it really well.

Why is being time-poor a problem for women particularly?

When we spend time caring for others, we end up being time-poor ourselves – and that means not investing in our own financial well-being. Which is a problem because it’s women who are hit hardest when it comes to superannuation. Women already retire with 58% as much super as men, due to the way the super system is designed. But then they’re literally too time-poor caring, cleaning, feeding, shopping etc – to pay much attention to this issue. the average fulltime working woman also spends 44 hours on unpaid work each week. But here’s the double-whammy: once women realise they’re not on track for a comfortable retirement, it’s too late for them to do anything significant about it. At this stage, usually around the 45-50yo mark, the lack of time until retirement is now the biggest challenge. It’s extremely hard to make up for those years where your superannuation could have been growing to be a size that it needs to be.

What should I do?

It’s time – yes that word again! – to start making a change now. That hour you’ve just spent scrolling through social media? It could easily have been spent on understanding how you’re tracking to your retirement goals. Or perhaps you get the children to bed a bit earlier, and put your phone on ‘do not disturb.’ Partner has a boys night out? While he’s spending his money, you’re going to do your research, get educated and save money in the long run! There are some great independent websites to start including Superguru, and the ASIC website.

And if you’re looking for a way to send more money into your super, you might want to take a look at Super Rewards. Super Rewards helps provide you with cash top-ups, from Australia’s leading retailers, directly into your super. So your time spent caring for others and on domestic duties, is now able to earn you an income.

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