I’m a 42-year-old single working mum. But that’s not even the scariest part of what I’m about to tell you. Yes, believe me, things can actually get worse.
I’ve just discovered that its highly possible I’ll be a homeless woman in my retirement. Legit. Now this is not what I had in mind for my glamorous golden years.
You may not think the topic of retirement and superannuation is sexy. But let me tell you what’s not sexy… sleeping in your car, or under a bridge, alone at the age of 65.
By the time I retire in roughly twenty years, I’m going to be in the fastest growing group of homeless people in the country. And it’s because we haven’t got a cent to our names from superannuation or a decent retirement plan. It’s also because we don’t think it’s something we have to worry about until it’s too late. Toothless and wearing fingerless gloves too late.
It appears that most Aussie women are falling off their perch around the vibrant young age of 85. Which means we have about twenty years from retirement to death. But in my book this is still pretty young. Shouldn’t we be kicking up our heels and having a hoot of a time well beyond that, surely? Dianne Keaton, Meryl Streep and Susan Sarandon all make it look really enticing actually, turtle neck sweaters and all.
Get this… apparently Aussie women will have about $375,000 to retire on by the age of 65. And, the majority of us will be dead by 85. So, if you work out how much that is to survive on per year for those measly 20 years, it’s less than $20,000 per year. I told you this was going to get scary. You try living peacefully and sleeping soundly at night knowing your annual allowance won’t even cover your current bikini wax bills. Ladies, things are looking dire.
All jokes aside, I’ve done the sums. Aussie women are expected to survive on $18,930 per year for the final twenty years of our lives. That’s $1577 per month. Or, $395 per week. $56 per day. It’s no wonder older women are the fastest-growing group of homeless people in Australia. These are our mums, our aunties, our school teachers and our hairdressers. These are hard-working, honest, devoted, smart women. Women who put their trust in the system to take care of them when they need it most, after a lifetime spent taking care of everyone else around them. These are the mums who selflessly give their savings to their children, the wives who believe their husbands will have their backs when they’re old and wrinkly, the school teachers who believe the government has their interests at heart after a lifetime of taking care of our nation’s spoilt little ratbags as if they were their own.
And then comes the day when the marriage doesn’t work out and Bob has run off with his assistant Vanessa. The kids are now in their mid-twenties and on to their third failed TAFE course and still asking Mum for a handout. And our hard working women discover that all those years spent breastfeeding and giving birth to small humans has come back to bite them in the butt because they’re now being punished for it financially. Literally, penalised for taking maternity leave and not being paid a cent of superannuation during the entire ordeal.
I know what you’re thinking… but childbirth is so relaxing! Really, it’s like a holiday! All those sleepless nights feeling your body sink into a state of cellulite-ridden disrepair as you wipe up milky vomit and try not to wake your adorable snoring unaware husband who is earning the big bucks and providing all the moral support you could ever dream of. Who wouldn’t give up everything just for this life changing opportunity?! And then you go and do it again and then maybe even again! And then before you know it, you’ve missed out on the vital years of your career and you’re more than likely going to be homeless. Way to go Australia! Nailing it!
Ok ok, I know, I’m exaggerating. Us women do have a habit of being melodramatic and hysterical at the best of times. I need to be fair. I mean it’s only simple little things like medical bills and health insurance, medications, food, utilities, transport, gifts for the grandchildren, knitting needles and aqua-aerobics that we need to cover each week. Heaven forbid we include some of the more realistic costs of movie tickets, botox injections, music festivals, and bail for shoplifting.
So what’s the answer? Stop having kids and focus entirely on our careers? Spend all our salaries now on extra superannuation contributions? Or, pull our heads out of the sand and stand up for our worth. Surely half the elderly population living on park benches isn’t in the government’s interest either? It would be far simpler to just start paying women for superannuation during maternity leave and bridging the salary gender gap. It’s time to get this ball rolling.