Women need to plan for an independent retirement. Statistically speaking, women live longer than men.1 U.S. census figures show that 59 is the median age of widows. So, a widow can anticipate another 25 or more years of living and retirement expenses.
Regardless of status, women need to have a savings and earnings plan for retirement. However, many women are not taking the planning steps to secure an income during their post-working years.
Today’s women earn more and are likely to be a major contributor where living expenses require two incomes. Yet, one 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. Women frequently put others first
Women often underfund or undermine their retirement savings plans through concern and putting the needs of their family first. The spouse or partner has expensive hobbies. Growing or adult children have college expenses. Elderly parents may require ongoing financial support. The money earmarked for the IRA or money market fund always seems to go instead for the family’s needs.
There are alternatives to stalling the retirement savings plans. They include just saying no and knowing there are other resources — school loans, for example. Life is about balance, and the woman needs to include herself more in the balancing act.
2. Women Are More Likely to Earn Less Than Men
Women earn less than men for a variety of reasons. For instance, women are more likely than men to miss work to care for children and their elderly parents. 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.”
So, the foregoing means that caregivers who are women spend about 50 percent more time than their male counterparts. It is time away from work that decreases, derails, and delays retirement savings.
3. Many Women Lack a Plan for Retirement
A retirement plan is somewhat of an “out-of-body experience.” Since the mind cannot go where the body has not visited, many women lack confidence when it comes to financial management. It’s about financial literacy and taking the time to learn the hard facts of living on finite, fixed retirement resources.
Financial literacy requires taking the time to learn the basics of investment, savings, and tax strategies. Expertise comes gradually from experience and study, but often more quickly from expert financial advisors.
Tips to Get Around Retirement Roadblocks
In the face of the foregoing and other obstacles, women who are willing to take the right steps can achieve a secure retirement. The Street, Inc. shares four moves for women to feel more secure in their financial future:4
1. Expect the unexpected. Start early and think about life events that will affect retirement.
2. Ask the right questions. Do the research and inventory assets and current life expenses as compared to retirement living.
3. Start investing now and take advantage of savings tools and strategies. Do so automatically and shunt the savings aside—out of sight, out of mind.
4. Seek a high-quality and balanced mix of savings and investment strategies. Women can overcome the lost work time and lower earnings with sound investment strategies.
Women don’t have to feel alone when it comes to planning for a secure retirement. Follow the above advice and look for a financial advisor "who provides education, information, and choices…with likely outcomes in order to empower yourself to craft a secure financial future.”