Longevity App co-founder and CEO Carla Harris. Picture: Supplied
Longevity App co-founder and CEO Carla Harris. Picture: Supplied

How to turn $60 into $316,000

Carla Harris is on a mission to change how much cash Australians have in their bank accounts.

She knows she can't change the gender pay gap overnight, but she also wants to really help women grow their wealth - even when they only work part time.

After working in the Federal Government's Workplace Gender Equality Agency, she saw the raw numbers first-hand that show just how far women have come - but how much further they have to go.

While women comprise 46.9 per cent of all those with jobs in Australia, the full-time average weekly earnings for women are 14.1 per cent less than for men.

 

Men earn more money than women, but they can get ahead with small savings. Picture: istock
Men earn more money than women, but they can get ahead with small savings. Picture: istock

 

While completing her MBA at Sydney University, she got the chance of a lifetime with receiving a $100,000 grant to build on her dream to make it a reality.

She then developed and recently launched the Longevity App, a mobile app that enables users to save and make money every time their spend money on daily items such as groceries - or a luxury item like a new pair of jeans.

In linking an everyday spending account through the app to a superannuation account, the app saves a small percentage of every spend into one's super.

Mrs Harris told News Corp Australia most of her app users are putting an average of $60 a month, which can turn into more than $70,000 over 10 years.

She also said more women than men have signed up to the app who are in their 30s and 40s, but she was also seeing strong interest from Millennials.

"We are seeing mostly people in their 30s thinking about their super savings but we've been surprised at the number of people in their 20s - it's a change in behaviour," she said.

"A lot of Millennials are more conservative with their spending … you see them blow money on things that meet their lifestyle demands but it doesn't help them get ahead in life … and there are young people who are changing their minds on this."

 

What $30,000 would look like if left in a super account gathering interest at 7 per cent. Picture: Supplied
What $30,000 would look like if left in a super account gathering interest at 7 per cent. Picture: Supplied

Users can change how much they top up their super account at any time, and the app does not take more than what you want to put into it.

She said she created the app as she felt it was "hugely important" for people to make sure they had something to live off when they get to the end of their working life.

"The stories people have told me about people living in their cars, gambling and having no money, they are heartbreaking stories and if I can help even one of those people by showing them how they can save it would be really nice," she said.

"It shouldn't have to be about people putting their own money into their retirement savings, but we have to do something.

"We are only charging $1.99 a month to use it - it's designed to be priced as low as possible so there are no barriers to using it for anyone."

What $30,000 would look like in 30 years if one were to use the Longevity App and added in $60 a month, and it grew at 7 per cent. Picture: Supplied
What $30,000 would look like in 30 years if one were to use the Longevity App and added in $60 a month, and it grew at 7 per cent. Picture: Supplied

Figures from the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia, based on 2016/17 Australian Bureau of Statistics data, show most people will struggle in retirement.

It advises savers consider contributing more to their super than just the basic rate and consolidate their accounts.

It found Australians aged between 60-64 are retiring with a median balance of $154,453 for males and $122,848 for females, compared to a targeted retirement balance of $545,000.

Mother-of-one Melissa Larter, from Engadine in NSW is using the app to top up her super with $30 a month.

The 39-year-old told News Corp she is doing it because she has just returned to work part time from maternity leave and has become even more conscious about her money.

"Every little bit helps," she said.

"I enjoyed working full time and knowing that my hard work was contributing to my future.

Melissa Larter with husband Andrew and son Henry. She is using the Longevity app. Picture: Supplied
Melissa Larter with husband Andrew and son Henry. She is using the Longevity app. Picture: Supplied

"Stopping or reducing work to have a family does make you worry a little about money for the future so to have a way of contributing a little extra and being in full control of it gives you confidence that you are still planning for the future even if you aren't working."

She also said that being a mum shouldn't stop her from trying to retire with enough money to live off.

"Being a mum really shouldn't mean that you will retire with less money," she said.

"Mums need to know that there are tools like the Longevity App that can help make a difference, especially when we are on maternity leave or working less than usual."

The new app comes as debate continues over the future access Australians may have to their superannuation accounts.

Nearly a dozen coalition backbenchers have raised questions over the state of the superannuation system, an issue the government did not take to the people at the federal election.

 

Liberal Senator for NSW Andrew Bragg delivers his first speech in the Senate chamber. Picture: AAP
Liberal Senator for NSW Andrew Bragg delivers his first speech in the Senate chamber. Picture: AAP

 

Newly-elected NSW Liberal senator Andrew Bragg used his first speech to federal parliament this week to argue superannuation should be voluntary for Australians earning less than $50,000.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said while members are entitled to their opinion, the government has been very clear in terms of what it will and will not do.

"The problem is that you would end up with less money in retirement and obviously a lower standard of living in retirement," he said in response to Senator Bragg's idea.

 

Mathias Cormann at Parliament House in Canberra. Picture Kym Smith
Mathias Cormann at Parliament House in Canberra. Picture Kym Smith

 

"We will always focus on making sure that the policy settings help protect people's superannuation savings, help to ensure net returns for Australians saving for their retirement can be maximised."

Debate has been swirling in recent weeks over the legislated incremental increases to the super compulsory guarantee, from 9.5 per cent in 2021 up to 12 per cent by mid-2025.

The government has repeatedly denied it will be changing this program. However, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the government will be undertaking a retirement incomes review.


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