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Finance – Women in the drivers seat

One in four Australian families has a woman as the major breadwinner and about 75% of family financial decisions are either made jointly or solely by a woman. Clearly, women play a very major role in managing household finances and determining the course to help saving for the future.

Saward Dawson has been running a very successful seminar series “Women – The Big Picture”, designed specifically for women, discussing the very serious topic of financial matters. Vicki Adams, Saward Dawson’s Financial Planning Manager says, “Now that women earn more, we are finding a genuine appetite for education to give them confidence in financial matters. Of course we know that women are quite capable of making excellent financial decisions but they often put their families ahead of themselves when it comes to being financially comfortable.”

Levels of wealth

Whilst there are many components of personal wealth, recent Australian Bureau of Statistics studies indicate that the superannuation savings for men was about $198,000, yet for women it is only around $113,000. In a previous article, “The super gender gap” we discussed reasons for discrepancies in superannuation savings and some relatively simple and straightforward ways for women to increase them.

Easy to fall into the traps

It is all too easy to assume that planning for your financial long-term is all too hard. But Vicki says, “It is never too late to start improving your long-term financial position. It doesn’t have to be painful. In fact, after a small time of adjusting, many people don’t even notice a difference in life style. We see plenty of examples where people become very positive advocates for their new lifestyles and saving regimes.”

Failing to plan for the future is a recipe for disaster. Articulate your savings goals and the lifestyle you intend to create for the future. Maybe writing them down and putting them in a safe place to review annually might help you.

Set up asset protection. Your ability to earn money is your most valuable asset. Talk to Vicki about how you can protect yourself and your family against sudden financial disaster in case of death or disability.

Beware of investment fads. Investing is a very serious business and discipline is required. Be very careful of the “too good to be true” investment schemes.

An excellent website to have a browse around is www.moneysmart.gov.au. Once again, Vicki would be pleased to discuss your concerns and your future.

Steps to financial success

We don’t all earn the same income so comparing your situation and aspirations to your friends’ is dangerous. However, living within your means is the most important principle. You simply need to earn more than you spend for financial success.

Learning what you spend and where you spend will start you in the right direction. Research shows that only about half of Australians know exactly where their money goes each month. If you say to yourself or your friends, “I don’t know where it all goes”, try keeping a record (there are plenty of phone apps available) of every time you spend money. It can be a sobering but potentially very rewarding experience.

Then set a realistic budget and stick to it. This will help you to learn to buy only what you need. But Vicki encourages, “Don’t punish yourself, just learn to be more financially targeted. When you see things improving, and your situation allows it, treat yourself and celebrate your success.”

And it doesn’t end there

These are but a few tips that we recommend but they are all directly related to financial management. However, life style change in many other areas can contribute to your success. Research shows that financially successful people eat well, count calories and exercise several times a week. They practice the old adage “Early to bed, early to rise…”. Their time watching TV and on the internet is much lower than the national average and they value personal relationships whilst actively looking to build friendships and get involved in the community.

We know that these tips are equally useful for men. However, combined with our “Women – The Big Picture” seminar series for women, we hope to help women gain more confidence in financial matters. Keep an eye out for our upcoming seminars.

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