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Superannuation shock as Aussie mum on $105k still needs three extra jobs: 'Scared to burden my kids'

Alysia Sheppard is living week to week and has just $2 left in her bank account to see her through to her next pay day.

A Sydney mum is earning a six-figure salary but says it isn’t enough to support her family, as rent prices and the cost of living soar. She is now working three additional jobs just to make ends meet.

Single mum Alysia Sheppard works full-time as a sales representative and is making $105,000 per year. But since the end of last year, she has been working multiple extra jobs, including doing cleaning work on the weekends, taking photos for strata reports and picking up the odd waitressing or delivery gig on Airtasker, to support herself and her two teenage sons.

The 44-year-old told Yahoo Finance she was living week to week and had just $2 left in her bank account to see her through to her next payday.

Alysia Sheppard and kids talking about taking on multiple jobs.
Alysia Sheppard works multiple jobs but is struggling to financially support her family and is “terrified” for the future. (Source: Supplied)

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“Every week is a struggle and I’m scared for my financial future,” Sheppard said. “I don’t have a lot of super, I think I have about $55,000 to $60,000.

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“I don’t own my apartment, I’m a renter. I’ve been a single mum for 15 years and I just have never been in a financial position [to buy], and was left with a lot of debt at the end of the relationship.”

Sheppard rents a two-bedroom unit in Dee Why on Sydney’s northern beaches for $590 per week. She said she is “lucky” this is below the median price for the area and was recently able to negotiate a rental increase down from $40 to $25 per week.

With her extra jobs, the mum of two said she was able to earn an extra $30,000 last year. But the tradeoff was she was working an “exhausting” 80 to 90 hours per week in total and barely had time to see her kids. She has now pulled back to 60 hours per week but this means she is “struggling financially”.

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After paying for rent, groceries, school fees and insurances, along with paying off a car loan, credit card and $55,000 outstanding HECS debt, Sheppard is just scraping by and is unable to save anything.

“I know I can’t pay a bill that’s due this Thursday and I’m avoiding using my car because I don’t want to put petrol in it,” she said.

“I’m terrified that when I come to retirement, my super and pension is not going to be enough to afford rent. I’m worried that I’m either going to end up living in my car, or living in a caravan or worse because I don’t want to be a burden to my children.”

Alysia Sheppard
The Sydney mum said she has now given up her dream of home ownership. (Source: Supplied)

Single Aussies currently need a superannuation balance of $100,000 to achieve a "modest" retirement at age 67, according to the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA), which covers just the basics.

For a "comfortable" retirement, this rises to $595,000. To reach this amount, ASFA said a 45-year-old on a $90,000 wage would need to have a balance of $176,000 — nearly triple what Sheppard has.

These calculations assume the retiree draws down all their capital and receives a part age pension. It also assumes their super balance runs out at age 92.

More Aussies working multiple jobs

Sheppard is one of nearly one million Aussies who work at least two jobs, as many workers struggle to meet cost-of-living pressures.

The latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics found 970,700 people held multiple jobs in December last year, or 6.7 per cent of all employed people. This was up 1.4 per cent from the previous quarter.

A separate Finder survey recently found nearly a third of Aussies felt financially pressured to look for a second job this year, with women and younger Aussies the most likely to take on extra work.

“Younger Australians, women particularly, tend to be unfortunately lower income earners on average and the gender wage gap is still there,” Finder head of consumer research Graham Cooke told Yahoo Finance.

“Those groups are feeling more pressure [because of] the cost of living, which is sky-high right now. Pressure from the cost of living is still in the ‘extreme’ range… even though inflation is coming down, and that’s why we are seeing those numbers.”

Home ownership ‘impossible’

Some workers like tradie David Warner say having multiple jobs has been the only way they have been able to buy a home, as the property market becomes increasingly expensive.

Australian home values rose for the 14th month in a row in March, CoreLogic data found, with the median property now valued at $772,730. In Sydney, the median price of a property is $1,139,375.

But, even working multiple jobs, Sheppard said buying a home is not financially possible for her. She also has no family she can “fall back on” or get a leg up from.

“I’ve had to give up on my dream of home ownership. At my age that’s going to be impossible unless I was in a relationship with somebody that already had a house,” she told Yahoo Finance.

Sheppard noted that child support payments, along with government support payments, would soon be coming to an end once her youngest turns 18. Her oldest son is now 18.

“I’m fearful because in less than two years, I’ll lose the child support and I’ll lose the Family Tax Benefits as well,” she said.

“As I get closer to losing the government benefits and child support, I’m probably going to have to look at getting more [work] or forcing my children to help out.”

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