Learn » Blog » Women's retirement funds are typically 40% lower than mens. Are you saving enough?

Women's retirement funds are typically 40% lower than mens. Are you saving enough?

Published on 08/06/2017

 Here's a few stats that could make you go grey earlier than expected as a female.

  • Women make up 61% of the 75-84 age group and outnumber men more than 2 to 1 in the over 85s.
  • Women live longer than men, and by the time we're 65, more than half of will be single or living alone.
  • Not only do women tend to take time out of the workforce to care for children and/or dependants...

...but, on average, they earn less and spend longer in retirement than men.*

So, if women earn less, live longer and spend more time in retirement than men, you might expect there's a financial plan in place for that. Guess again?

Although the gender scales are fairly balanced when it comes to account sizes in KiwiSaver, men are still socking away close to 40% more than women in private savings schemes.

According to Statistics NZ, median balances for men are $69,000 while women's are $42,000.  

The median value of non-KiwiSaver schemes was $53,000 – six times more than the $8,000 median value (the average is $15,000) of KiwiSaver schemes. 

Reason to panic? Sure but it won't change the outcome.

A more productive response is to get a plan in place.

Start by reviewing your current situation. Tally up your assets and debts, and figure out your net position. If you are partnered, do the sums with and without your joint assets, or run two scenarios where joint assets are halved.

Hammer the debt as fast as you can, so you can boost your savings. Get a divorce from debt, so you don't go back again.

Take a close look at your savings strategies and vehicles. How much are you saving, how often, where and what assets are you invested in?

KiwiSaver is a great savings tool for a number of reasons: it's a diversified investment (Simplicity invests in more than 3,000 companies across 23 countries); it's regular savings (that's compounded savings optimised); both you and your employer contribute to it;  and as an added bonus you get free money from the Government in the form of member tax credits if you are over 18 and under age 65.  

 Note: If you're self employed and haven't already done so, make sure you pay $1,043 into your account before June 25th to be eligible for the full member tax credit of $521. Contact info@simplicity.kiwi if you're unsure how to do this. See also KiwiSaver for the Self-employed blog here. 

Save early, save often, save a lot 

How much you'll need in retirement will depend on some of these scary stats mentioned above. How long you'll live, whether you'll have someone to grow old with, (and hopefully help with the costs), lifestyle choices and here's a big one: whether you've paid off your mortgage.

At current rates, New Zealand Superannuation (see current rates here), covers just the bare minimum. And the bare minimum (basic bills, food, no alcohol, movie nights, or dinners out) assumes you're not having to pay rent or a mortgage with your government cheques. 

Arguably, one of the best returns on investment will be paying off the mortgage -- as fast as humanly possible. Given house prices these days, and the size of many peoples' mortgages, it could be awhile. Saving for retirement as well as paying off the mortgage could be challenging but smart if you can make it work for all the reasons outlined above.

How will your savings grow?

Projections are tricky with managed funds because of the volatility of the stock market but there are some good forecasting tools to help you meet some targets.

Simplicity's member area (see My Options) includes a forecasting tool that shows you how different fund types and contribution rates will impact your financial future. Please read the assumptions so you understand how these calculations are made. Tools like these will help you see how much you'll need to save to meet a financial goal at a particular age.

Many advisors use $50,000 a year income in retirement as a hallmark to aim for. See also Craig's guide to retirement here for some numbers. 

Sorted.org.nz also has some excellent planning tools and calculators.  

KiwiSaver funds are eligible to be drawn down starting at age 65. New Zealand Superannuation, if you are born after Jan.1, 1974, will commence at age 67. If you were born earlier, it's 65.

When you're young, it's hard to fathom yourself a senior but one of the worse things you can do is pretend it's not going to happen, and risk missing out on years of compounding interest or returns. That's especially the case when you'll need more in retirement than your male counterpart. 

Especially if they live a long time.

A female born today is expected to live to 84.  Get saving ladies.

*Source NZ Women in Super