A financial toolkit for women

A HELPING hand can be all we need sometimes to get ahead with money matters, and the recent launch of ASIC's 'Women's Money Toolkit' gives Australian women additional support to achieve personal financial security.

There is no shortage of research that shows women often have what it takes to be successful investors and wealth creators. A 2014 survey of adult financial literacy for example, found women are generally better than men at keeping track of their finances, and are less likely to be impulsive when it comes to managing their money.

Yet many women face unique challenges when it comes to making the most of their money.

Almost one in two (46%) women work part time compared to 17% of men. This often means a lower income as well as less going into super through employer-paid contributions. As a guide, among women aged 60-64 the average super balance is about $104,734 compared to $197,054 for men the same age. Yet women have a current life expectancy of 84 years compared to 80 among men, so on that basis women need a bigger nest egg.

In addition, our high rate of separation and divorce can derail the financial security of many women. Yes, it is possible to rebuild your finances following a relationship breakdown but it often takes time, and many divorcees - both men and women - can be unsure about where to begin.

All these issues underpinned the development of the new Women's Money Toolkit. It's an online resource that offers tips and tools to manage money across a range of life stages. It explains points to consider when buying a home, starting a family, caring for elderly relatives, preparing for retirement and even following the loss of a partner.

Users answer a few questions and the toolkit generates a personalised to-do list of steps that can improve their financial wellbeing. This is important because having a written roadmap of action can make it easier to get started and tick off various goals along the way.

I spent some time checking out the toolkit and it's certainly very user-friendly and packed with useful information.

It costs nothing to use the Women's Money Toolkit, and it could be a valuable starting point for many Australian women to get more from their money. Check it out at ASIC's MoneySmart website - moneysmart.gov.au.

Paul Clitheroe is a founding director of financial planning firm ipac, Chairman of the Australian Government Financial Literacy Board and chief commentator for Money Magazine.