The KiwiSaver Gender Divide – Why are women saving less and what can be done to combat this?

3 May by Claudia Twine

The KiwiSaver Gender Divide – Why are women saving less and what can be done to combat this?

Recent data shows that, on average, women have 20% less in their KiwiSavers than men[1]. The gap being at its largest between men and women in their 40s and 50s. There are a few factors that come into play causing this divide and although it will take years to achieve equality, there are ways in which we can be proactive to help close the gap. As of August 2021, the gender pay gap is at 9.1% in New Zealand, a decrease of about 0.4% from 2020’s stats[2].

So, what can be done to help close this gap in KiwiSaver funds?

Consider Contributing More

The default (and lowest) contribution rate is 3% of your pay but there are other options to contribute more to your KiwiSaver from your pay (4%, 6%, 8%, and 10%). Alternatively, you can opt for a voluntary contribution as a one-off payment or regular direct debit, this way you can choose how much you would like to contribute.

Having a good understanding of not only your combined cashflow with your partner, but also your independent cashflow will tell you how much you can afford to voluntarily put towards your KiwiSaver. A good minimum goal to work towards is $1,043 total contributions (excluding your employer’s), as this earns you the full government contribution of $521 towards your KiwiSaver annually.

Decisions During Parental Leave

There is the option to continue your KiwiSaver contributions during maternity leave, but many new parents choose to opt out of this as they prefer to have more disposable income to support the new addition to their family. During this time, your employer contributions will automatically cease too. A comprehensive understanding of your individual cashflow will help you determine whether or not continuing your contributions during maternity leave is the best option for you and your growing family.

When approaching KiwiSaver, it’s helpful to keep goal setting at the forefront of your discussions, and to keep an open mind about the options available to you.

Proposed Care Credits

While the idea of ‘care credits’ has been proposed to the government, there hasn’t been much bite on their end. A care credit would involve some form of top up to your KiwiSaver to compensate for contributions missed while you take time off to care for children (or potentially other family members such as elderly parents). This idea has already been successfully adopted in a few countries, such as Norway and Finland, to boost retirement savings during these periods of non-paid work.

The idea of care credits is not included in Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister, David Clark’s “KiwiSaver Refresh” and there are fears that some of the ideas could worsen the current gap.

Talk To a Professional

In general, women tend to be more conservative with their approach to risk and financial decisions. This may result in what is commonly known as analysis paralysis; reading into the finer details too much without looking at the bigger picture. Without context of a bigger picture goal, anxieties may bubble to the surface. When approaching KiwiSaver, it’s helpful to keep goal setting at the forefront of your discussions, and to keep an open mind about the options available to you.

Talking to a professional Financial Adviser can help boost your understanding and demystify the process. By developing your understanding of where your money is going and the various risk levels of portfolios, you are likely to become more confident in your KiwiSaver and in turn, other investments. A Financial Adviser can talk you through any questions and calm any fears you may have around saving and investing, so that you can achieve the saving goals you have set out for yourself to enjoy your well-deserved retirement.


You can learn more about KiwiSaver Advice at Lifetime here.

Claudia Twine is a qualified Financial Adviser at Lifetime specialising in KiwiSaver & Investment advice. To find out more and get in touch with Claudia, click here. 

Disclaimer: This article has been prepared for the purpose of providing general information, without taking into consideration any particular investor’s objectives, financial situation or needs. Any opinions contained in it are held by the author as at the report date and are subject to change without notice.


[1] Source: Te Ara Ahunga Ora The Retirement Commission via Stuff

[2] Source: Stats NZ

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