Plan For Tomorrow | What to know about women and retirement
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What to know about women and retirement

Monday 31 August 2020 | Reading Time: 5 minutes


Today, women are seeking more ways to empower themselves financially. They could be taking ownership of money matters, seeking to find answers to tough questions, and making smart moves to help them define their financial future. However, according to a North American white paper, Empowered, a large percentage of women surveyed do not feel confident about their retirement planning. If you’re a woman looking to develop financial plans in your golden years, you may face the following roadblocks.

Feeling less confident about the retirement process 

The word, retirement, typically conjures thoughts of relaxation, comfort, and adventure. However, Empowered reveals that the road to retirement is creating a feeling of uncertainty for many women. In fact, a large percentage of the women surveyed said they feel that they are lacking proper financial and retirement planning compared to men. When asked what would help them feel more confident, survey respondents indicated that having more money to work with would make them more confident. More secure market/economic conditions, having a plan, and advice from a professional were also cited as important confidence boosters. 

From North American’s Empowered – Women and Retirement white paper

Differing retirement priorities

More women are working in professional fields than before and this shift leaves a lot to be explored as women and men approach, think about, and manage money differently. Today the vast majority of women are likely to be the one who manages finances for the household. Ninety percent of all women will be solely responsible for their household’s financial well-being at some point in their life, due to singleness, divorce, widowhood, or simply by choice. As financial managers, women have different money concerns than men. A majority of women wish to save their money to provide security for themselves and their families. According to Empowered, women are more likely to be concerned about health care, peace of mind, and home and auto expenses than men. These priorities are important when planning long-term goals like retirement, so they must be honestly discussed with a significant other.

From North American’s Empowered – Women and Retirement white paper

Limited financial advice

The Empowered survey found that 56 percent of women cited their employer as a place to learn about retirement. While the workplace can be a helpful resource for women looking to educate themselves on the basic benefits available, such as a 401(k), it’s a good idea to develop retirement goals and assets with a resource outside of work. A financial professional, for example, can help by recommending additional products and services that can address their needs beyond employer-based solutions. An outside financial professional can also help you implement financial plans and provide transitional advice if a significant change happens in your life, like a job loss or retirement.

Longer life expectancy

In general, women live longer than males by an average of six to eight years1 , so they will most likely need to have more money to cover their retirement. This may also mean they have less money saved up. One in four 65-year-olds also makes it past the age of 902, so it can be ideal to have a plan that accounts for longevity and allows you to save more. You want to make your retirement funds last.

Gender pay gap

To save enough, women must earn enough. As you can imagine, this can be a problem when it comes to women’s retirement savings if you are not receiving adequate pay for your work. If you are earning less than you wish, you could discuss your salary with your boss. Negotiating can be critical for women. According to, women who ask for a raise are more than twice as likely to get one as women who don’t. 

Health care costs

Rising medical costs make healthcare a top concern for all retirees these days, but it’s especially important for women. Expected health care costs during retirement are about $83,000 higher for women than men, according to a 2017 study by HealthView Services. Given the greater longevity for women and the likelihood of smaller savings options, it may be vital to create a strategy to plan for healthcare costs. Consider a health savings account (HSA). It offers tax-free contributions and can be used for out-of-pocket expenses. It can also cover Medicare premiums in retirement. IRAs and annuities can also be good options to explore. It’s a good idea to consider working with a tax professional to help you better understand your options.

Social security obstacles

Women are more likely to leave their jobs to raise their kids, which can affect their eligibility for Social Security benefits. If you decide to give up your job for your family, keep in mind that you could receive less money after retirement from your individual Social Security benefit because you are no longer paying monthly. Other factors like divorce or remarriage can affect how much money you receive as well. Regardless of what your situation may be, it’s likely a good idea to review the official Social Security website to learn more about your benefits. If you happen to find yourself in one of those situations, it could be important to make sure you have other plans in place to fund your nest egg, so you aren’t solely relying on Social Security money.

1. Source: World Health Organization

2. Source: American Psychological Association

Methodology: The general consumer study was conducted Nov. 6-19, 2017, and included 400 females and 200 males, age 40 and above. The agent study was conducted Nov. 17 to Dec. 12, 2017, and included 257 contracted agents including both men and women.

Analysis is for educational purposes only. The experience of the participants of the 2017 Study may not be representative of the experience of all.

Neither the company, nor any agents acting on its behalf, should be viewed as providing legal, tax or investment advice.

The term financial professional is not intended to imply engagement in an advisory business in which compensation is not related to sales. Financial professionals that are insurance licensed will be paid a commission on the sale of an insurance product