Get Smart With Money


What are you worth?

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Sunday 28 August 2011

We may have our first female PM, but it seems that Australian women still have a long way to go on the equal wage front. A Melbourne-Institute wages report released recently shows that women’s pay rises in the year to August have been less than half that of male workers.

While the lower pay rises in this particular period are likely to reflect weak growth in the retail sector (which typically employs a high proportion of female workers) statistics like these are nothing new.

Historically, women have earned less than their male counterparts; indeed a NATSEM report released in 2010 found that women in Australia were paid an average of 17% less than men (that’s around $224 a week). And it isn’t just an Australian issue—it’s global.

One reason given by Time Magazine for the reason US women earn less than their male counterparts (77 cents to the male dollar in 2008) was that women tended to work in lower paying industries. For example, well-educated men tend to work as business executives, lawyers or doctors, whereas well-educated women typically gravitate towards teaching, caring and communications roles.

Other reasons cited by Reportage Online include under-representation in large firms and discontinuous employment (to raise children, for example) which can lead to lower wages or lack of promotional opportunities at crucial stages of their careers.

While the reasons could be debated endlessly, one thing remains certain—that as women we need to be smarter than ever with our money.

Three things to consider

1. Are you being paid what you’re worth?

It’s a good idea to know what your role is worth within the context of your industry and organisation. If you feel you’re earning less than you deserve, prepare your case and at an appropriate time (such as an annual review), summon up the courage to ask for a raise. Remember: nothing ventured, nothing gained.

2. Make your money work hard for you

With inflation doing its nasty little thing, you need to make sure you have a long-term investment strategy in place. To outperform inflation, your plan might be to invest for capital growth (in assets like shares or property that increase in value) or invest to create income (through share dividends or rental income from investment property, for example)—or both. Whatever the case, the most important thing is to do your research, seek independent advice and take action!

3. Remember your super

This is where the stats get really scary for women. Currently the average retirement payout for women is half that of men ($73,000 compared to $155,000)—and there’s a marked difference for younger age groups too. But don’t be alarmed, there is plenty you can do to sort out your super and the earlier you do it the better. Check out our super section to learn more.



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