Mum Pascale Helyar-Moray is helping scores of Australians earn thousands of dollars on the side – and you can do it while you shop.
When Helyar-Moray took maternity leave to have her three children, she knew she'd take a financial hit in the process.
But she's now launched Super-Rewards with co-founder Emily Hollingum – a rewards program that earns you cash as you shop and puts that cash directly into your super to boost it – to address that very problem.
Helyar-Moray told news.com.au Australia's super system was "the envy of many other countries" – but that it was created decades ago "through the eyes of men", meaning women were disadvantaged.
"There are 1.8 million women in Australia who are doing unpaid work looking after children or the elderly and of course they're also not being paid super, and as a result of these things like the exorbitant cost of childcare, the reliance on women to do unpaid work and the gender pay gap, we're now in a situation where women only have enough money to live in retirement for six years on average," she said, adding women ended their working lives with 58 per cent as much super as men on average.
But she said Super-Rewards could help "pre-empt a crisis later in life for many people".
"A very small percentage of companies pay superannuation during maternity leave, and when it's time to return to work, the cost of child care can actually send families backwards, so a lot of women decide not to return," she said.
"And the message that women need to just top up their super to compensate for the deficit doesn't work – where is this mythical money tree to top up your super?
"Those working part-time struggle at the best of times and they're scraping as it is – super is the last thing on anyone's mind."
Helyar-Moray, who previously worked as a marketing and PR executive for financial service companies and who is the director of the Australian Gender Equality Council, said she came up with the idea after spotting a similar rewards program with rewards instead going into investment funds.
"I thought, 'why not do this, but for women and for super'?" she explained.
"We're heading for a tsunami of super deficiency and actually it's already almost here, with 40 per cent of single women retiring into poverty, which in a rich country like Australia is nothing short of disgraceful and ridiculous.
"I'm a mum, I know the level of life admin I do each week, and I thought there had to be a way to monetise all this responsibility and purchasing power because women make 80 per cent of spending decisions."
Helyar-Moray explained that many retailers were keen to jump on board because Super-Rewards acted as an additional advertising platform for them.
"For them it's a loyalty play and an additional marketing channel – if Jane on the street is going online to shop at Coles but knows she can shop online at Woolies through Super-Rewards and for every $312 in her basket, she'll get $5 in her super, she'll chose that option," she said.
She said the platform was not encouraging people to spend extra cash, but that they could simply buy things they were already planning on purchasing anyway, such as groceries or family cruises, and be rewarded for it.
Super-Rewards launched in October 2019, and already around 150 household-name retailers such as Woolworths, BWS, The Iconic, PetBarn, Booktopia and Country Road have signed up, contributing an average of five per cent of a customer's bill into their super.
Thousands of users have also already earnt "collectively thousands of dollars into their super", with some individuals already scoring $312.
Helyar-Moray stressed that while the platform – which is free to join – was targeted at women, men were also welcome to join up, with statistics showing around 900,000 Australian men were unpaid carers.
It is compatible with all super funds and self-managed super funds, and after Helyar-Moray and Hollingum raised a million dollars in capital, the business is now on track to achieve more than $3 million in turnover this financial year.
It is also donating $5 from every shop through Super-Rewards to Australia's bushfire relief efforts.
CALL FOR CHANGE
This week, the CEOs of some of the biggest super funds called for change to improve women's financial security.
Industry fund HESTA's CEO Debby Blakey said workplace and overall policy changes were needed as "so often women take on so much in unpaid caring roles and they end up with such low balances in super".
"I think we need to fix that," she said.
"It is all about creating a fairer superannuation system and being prepared to be bold and gusty and make the right decisions."
According to Financy.com.au, ABS statistics show 3.31 million women work full-time and 2.8 million part-time, compared with the 5.54 million men working full-time and 1.3 million part-time.
"I think over the past five years, there has been good progress; if you look at women's workforce participation, gender pay gap and percentage of women in universities, all of those have improved," First State Super CEO Deanne Stewart said.
"That said, what's really alarming is that despite the promising participation rates, due to career breaks, less secure employment, the ongoing gender pay gap, and the fact that they are often in careers where they are paid less; women are retiring with much less than men."
Meanwhile, Investor Daily reported 59 per cent of women were worried about outliving their savings and were more likely to be relying on the age pension as their main source of income.
"As pointed to by Natixis, Australian women retire with 47 per cent less super than men, yet they are likely to live for five years longer," the publication said.
"Women are also more likely to have less than $520,000 in retirement savings."