Women need to plan for an independent retirement. It may seem grim but, statistically speaking, women live longer than men.1 U.S. census figures show that 59 is the median age of widows. Simple math tells us a widow can anticipate another possible 25 or more years of living and retirement expenses. However, many women are not taking all of the necessary planning steps to secure an income during their post-working years.
Today, women are likely to be a major contributor where living expenses require two incomes. Yet, a TransAmerica Center for Retirement Studies survey found that only 29 percent of the women included retirement planning as a priority.2 That same study found that only 12 percent of working women are confident that they will be able to retire comfortably.
Three Retirement Roadblocks for Women
In addition to living longer, there are challenges and roadblocks for women in retirement planning. They include the following:
1. Often, Women put others first
Women often under fund or undermine retirement savings plans through concern and putting the needs of their family first. Growing or adult children have college expenses. Elderly parents may require ongoing financial support. The money earmarked for the IRA or investment accounts always seems to go toward loved ones' needs.
There are alternatives to stalling the retirement savings plans. They include just saying NO and knowing there are other resources — school scholarships, work studies or part time jobs, for example. Life is about balance, but the more you dedicate to one financial goal, the less will be available to go toward another. Prioritizing needs, wants and wishes will help you sort where your funds NEED to go to put yourself in the best long term financial position, while also considering other competing goals.
2. Women Are More Likely to Earn Less Than Men
Over the years, we've heard ongoing discussions about the varying reasons for gender wage gaps. One topic has remained consistent and unchallenged throughout: The burden of unpaid care giving for loved ones still falls largely on women. Women lose on average $16,000 per year from taking time away from work to care for family. The family Caregiver Alliance cites studies estimating that 66 percent of caregivers are women.3 Significantly, the “average caregiver is a 49-year-old woman who works outside the home and provides 20 hours per week of unpaid care to her mother.” If we simply discuss the topic of care giving alone, that accounts for a significant amount of unpaid time away from work that decreases, derails and delays retirement savings.
3.Women need an accurate plan for retirement
Retirement confidence is higher among men (68%) than women (55%). Financial literacy and planning requires taking the time to learn the basics of investment, savings, and tax strategies. Statistically speaking, women live longer than men. Yet, as mentioned above, studies show that only 29% of women include retirement planning as a priority. Expertise comes gradually from experience and study, but often more quickly from working with experienced financial consultants. Even if listed as a priority, how often is your retirement plan revisited to ensure that it remains an accurate reflection of your finances... and what is your plan for implementation to stay on track?
Don't let a lack of confidence or a feeling of insecurity about where you stand financially deter you from moving in a positive direction. We've all made mistakes in the past, but that should not prevent us from making informed choices in the present. You can learn from past financial mistakes and become an advocate for financial literacy to help others do the same.
Tips to Get Around Retirement Roadblocks
In the face of obstacles, women who are willing to take the right steps can achieve a secure retirement.
1. Expect the unexpected. Start early and think about life events that will affect your retirement. If you're not sure what unexpected life events to anticipate, work with a professional who can outline possible obstacles and provide a plan for how to best prepare for them.
2. Ask questions. Do your research. Inventory assets and current life expenses as compared to retirement living. If you don't know, always a best practice to ask questions. It's important to gather knowledge as you go and the most effective way to do so is to have candid conversations with known experts.
3. Start investing now and take advantage of savings tools and strategies. Do so automatically and set the savings aside consistently. Pay your future self like you pay your cell phone bill each month.
4. Seek a high-quality and balanced mix of savings and investment strategies. Women can overcome some potential lost work time and lower earnings with proactive early action, sound investment strategies and consistency over time.
This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.