How does being a mother affect your wealth?

3 min read

Chef, teacher, nurse, chauffeur, storyteller, imaginary monster killer, skilled multi-tasker and organiser – these are just a few of the many responsibilities mums find themselves juggling daily.

Amid all the chaos of raising a family, it’s important to take some time to plan ahead for retirement. Did you know that the average man’s superannuation balance is nearly twice the size of the average woman’s super balance?1

On average, women earn less money than men

The national gender pay gap is currently 16.0% and has hovered between 15% and 19% for the past 20 years.2 According to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency3, the gender pay gap is influenced by a number of factors, including women being more likely to:

  • Be primary carers for family members (whether children or elderly relatives)
  • Work in part time or casual jobs
  • Hold lower paid or administrative roles
  • Be less represented in senior executive positions.

The average age of women becoming first time mothers is 31.4 If we compare personal incomes and super balances at this age, women are worse off than men as seen in the diagram below.5

Sustainability infographic

It’s important for women to have enough savings to fund their retirement, considering women live longer than men on average6.

Different levels of financial confidence

It’s not surprising then that women who are thinking of starting a family may have more concerns about their retirement than men in the same situation. Looking at the chart below, you can see that women who are thinking of starting a family in the next 12 months are less confident than men in the same situation that they will have enough money to live comfortably in retirement. Women are also more worried about making financial mistakes in preparation for retirement and they are more concerned about being dependent on family and friends for financial support in retirement.7

Sustainability infographic

According to BT’s 2016 Australian Financial Health Index, non-working mothers appear to be less confident about superannuation and are more concerned about retirement balances than working mothers.8 Looking at the below diagram, compared to working mothers, non-working mothers are less likely to have super, feel less knowledgeable about super and are less confident that they will have enough money to live comfortably in retirement. Non-working mothers also tend to be more likely to worry about their retirement finances.8

Sustainability infographic

Ways to help close the gap

Fortunately, there are things women can do now to help them be financially better off in retirement. And the sooner you can add even small amounts to your super, the longer there is for compound interest to work its magic. Depending on your situation, a few options that are available are:

  • Salary sacrificing additional amounts on top of your Superannuation Guarantee payments
  • Making one-off after-tax (or non-concessional) contributions to your super account
  • Arranging for your partner to make a spouse contribution to your super fund
  • Investigate if you are eligible for the government co-contribution (of up to $500) for those with an annual salary below $51,813 in the 2017-18 financial year. You will need to make an after-tax personal contribution to be eligible to receive a government co-contribution. Women who earn above this range but plan on taking maternity leave part way through the financial year could still be eligible if their income falls below the threshold as a result of the maternity leave or unpaid leave taken.

It’s important to remember that super is a long-term investment. Generally, contributions to a superannuation fund are preserved and the government has placed restrictions on when you can access your preserved benefits. There are also annual limits that apply to the amount you can add to your super each year, so it is important to consider how much you have already added to your account (or accounts) during the financial year to know which strategies can work for you. See the ATO website for more information.

Need help exploring your options to help you build enough super to retire on? Contact us to arrange to speak to a BT Adviser.

1. Source: The Workplace Gender Equality Agency, Superannuation & gender pay gaps by age group, August 2016 -
2. The gender pay gap is the difference between women’s and men’s average weekly full-time equivalent earnings, expressed as a percentage of men’s earnings. Source: The Workplace Gender Equality Agency
3. Source: The Workplace Gender Equality Agency – ‘What is the gender pay gap?’,
4. The median age of all mothers for births registered in 2015. Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, 3301.0 - Births, Australia, 2015.
5. Source: Roy Morgan Single Source, January-December 2016. Note: Data refers to 30-34 year-olds who have superannuation.
6. Source: The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Life expectancy,
7. Source: BT 2016 Australian Financial Health Index, a nationally representative sample of 4,486 Australians aged 18+ surveyed in November 2016, looking at their attitudes towards finance, money and retirement.
8. Source: BT 2016 Australian Financial Health Index, a nationally representative sample of 4,486 Australians aged 18+ surveyed in November 2016, looking at their attitudes towards finance, money and retirement. Note: Mothers are those who have one or more dependent children living with them. A dependent child is an individual who is either a child aged under 15 years or a child aged 15-24 years who is a full-time dependent student. To be regarded as a child the individual cannot have a partner or a child of his or her own usually residing in the household. Working mothers includes part-time and full-time employees.

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This information is current as at 9 May 2017.

This information has been prepared without taking account of your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Because of this you should, before acting on this information, consider its appropriateness, having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. This information provides an overview or summary only and it should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter or relied upon as such. 

This article may contain material provided by third parties derived from sources believed to be accurate at its issue date. While such material is published with necessary permission, no company in the Westpac Group accepts any responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of, or endorses any such material. Except where contrary to law, we intend by this notice to exclude liability for this material. 

The tax position described is a general statement and is for guidance only. It has not been prepared by a registered tax agent. It does not constitute tax advice and is based on current tax laws and our interpretation. Your individual situation may differ and you should seek independent professional tax advice. 

Superannuation is a means of saving for retirement, which is, in part, compulsory. The government has placed restrictions on when you can access your investment held in superannuation. The Government has set caps on the amount of money that you can add to superannuation each year on both a concessional and non-concessional tax basis. There will be tax consequences if you breach these caps. For more detail, speak with a financial adviser or visit the ATO website. 

© BT Financial Group 2017.