GrapeVine

Super Success: Caroline's top tips for super and savings

Last month, we had Caroline write about how [she successfully retired at age 50], and she really brought her A-game, writing so much that we had to split it up to make sure you wouldn’t miss out on anything! We want to thank Caroline for her great story and tips on how to grow your super to retire with security and safety. Read them all below.

Financial advisers may not be the place to start.

Many people go to see financial advisors to figure out what to do with their money. I think many of us first need to have life advice, not to discuss jobs or careers, but what you want to do with your life when you are not working. Knowing how you want to live the rest of your life gives you the motivation to make just one more sacrifice.

Online banking has made it easier than ever to see where your money is going. Many online banking systems allow you to easily allocate categories to your expenditure. I’m a really big fan of letting the bank do the heavy lift for my budgeting. I don’t need spreadsheets and every six months I sit down and look at how much we are spending on what.

One of my biggest shocks was finding out we had started to routinely spend over $700 a fortnight on food and alcohol. After that I started checking every fortnight. It makes you stop and think what you are spending your money on and where you can make savings to add to your super.

Drop your standards now to increase your standards in future.

We still haven’t laid formal flooring in our house, 10 years after the build, but we will in a few months. Most people understood when we explained that painting the baseboards was a trade-off to keep the mortgage as low as possible. There were a few ‘but what will people think!’ comments. But we knew we wanted to be financially independent and debt free, so we just smiled politely.

Women need to be more proactive if they’re going to take career breaks. Be militant about taking every opportunity to make additional contributions to your super if you’re the one looking after the children and you’re not working or are only working part time. If possible, have the conversation before you have children so the expectations are set.

Make retirement and superannuation something you talk about with other women and colleagues, including your employer. I am still so grateful to the wonderful Human Resources Officer who talked with me about superannuation over 20 years ago on the first day in a new job.

I honestly believe that if the HR Officer had not taken the time to talk me through the options, the system, how it worked and what it meant I would never have started to think about superannuation as a means to achieving financial independence. I am grateful to her for opening my eyes. — If you have your own story and tips to share, we would love to hear from you and welcome the opportunity to share your story with the world.