Women and Retirement

Steps You Can Take to Improve Your Outlook

Bradford Creger
MoneyTips ContributorPRO+ in Pasadena, CA

Retirement Investing & Retiring

Women and Retirement
August 31, 2016

Retirement planning is important for all Americans, but the importance is heightened for women. The retirement deck is stacked against women in several ways, including generally lower pay compared to men and lower Social Security benefits upon retirement. Social components include greater likelihood of caregiving responsibilities resulting in increased part-time work or time out of the workforce. Since women outlive men by 4.8 years on average, they also have a longer retirement period.

Findings from the recent Transamerica Retirement Survey of Workers reinforce the precarious position that women can face in retirement. Overall, only 14% of female workers are "very confident" that they can maintain a comfortable lifestyle with a full retirement. Many expect to work in retirement (49%), or delay retirement beyond age 65 with the possibility of no retirement (54%). Of those closest to retirement, the Baby Boomers, 64% have no Plan B in case they have to retire early for any reason.

The survey results suggest that women's concerns are warranted. Women do participate in retirement programs to the extent possible, as 77% of those who are offered employer-based retirement plans participate with a median personal contribution level of 7%. In addition, 55% of respondents have non-work related retirement accounts such as IRAs. However, only 66% of female workers were offered work-related retirement plans.

For 28% of the respondents, part-time work is leading to lower benefits. Another 67% believe they are harmed in retirement savings by having to take time out of the workforce for caregiving duties. As a result, too many women are struggling to meet their retirement goals.

Just what are those goals? The median estimate was $800,000 for financial independence in retirement, but the majority of those estimates (57%) were characterized as pure guesswork. Only 36% of women use professional financial help and only 77% of those do so for retirement investing.

Fortunately, the survey offers some steps for women to improve their retirement outlook.

  • Have a Written Retirement Plan – If you have no plan or just an off-the-cuff one, take the time to think through your needs in future retirement. Seek professional advice if you need help estimating your total retirement target and how much money you need to save annually to get there. Educate yourself on retirement strategies and learn how to take maximum tax advantages, schedule withdrawals from your retirement accounts, and maximize your Social Security benefits with a filing strategy.
  • Plan Your Savings – Once your targets are in place, plan out your annual savings and make the income and spending adjustments necessary to meet that savings goal. Take that goal into account when making major life decisions.
  • Participate in Retirement Plans – Max out your contributions to retirement plans, and treat your retirement benefits as part of your salary instead of a side benefit. If no retirement benefits are available in your current job, ask for them or consider switching jobs.
  • Have a Plan B – Unpleasant as it is, you need to consider what your best options are for unexpected expenses, job loss near retirement, health issues, or other derailments of your plan. Rank your cost-cutting choices, and consider where insurance can help you the most.

The final recommendation from Transamerica: Talk openly about your retirement plans and needs with your family, as well as with close friends. They will provide support and be a useful sounding board with respect to plans. Most importantly, there will be no misunderstandings of expectations. If you are expecting to be supported by children who are not willing or able to do so, it is best to clear up the issue now.

Do not let fear of retirement finances keep you from taking the necessary actions to plan your retirement and act on that plan. The sooner you start, the more likely you are to overcome the special retirement obstacles that women face.

Brad is a Registered Representative with, and Securities and Advisory Services offered through LPL Financial, a registered investment advisor, Member FINRA/SIPC. CA Insurance License #: 0B22199.

Let the free MoneyTips Retirement Planner help you calculate when you can retire without jeopardizing your lifestyle.

Photo ©iStock.com/ Susan Chiang

  Conversation   |   36 Comments

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Britt | 09.21.15 @ 18:01
Retirement is one of those things that I'm kinda worried about, even though I have a long time
Daniel | 09.21.15 @ 18:03
Plan, plan and plan some more.. That is really the best way to go.
Sara | 09.21.15 @ 18:10
Well right now I really cannot say I will ever truly "retire" (housewife here... well homeschool parent)..... But I can say I feel like the husband (though due to military service and other things) probably wont truly retire for a while.
Kathryn | 09.21.15 @ 18:11
Luckily me and my fiancé are already planning for our retirement
Nancy | 09.21.15 @ 18:12
As a single mom, I'm very worried about retirement. It all falls to me and my planning and budgeting.
Steffanie | 09.21.15 @ 18:15
Thanks for steps to work towards a better retirement.
Elaine | 09.21.15 @ 18:15
I don't care what gender you are, planning is the only option and still that might be enough. . My dad just retired and has been struggling with getting his meds. Never had a limit put on his required meds before, but now that he is retired they placed that limit. What retired person can pay $700 for insulin for a 90 day supply. He had we'll planned for retirement and now look. I think all this is just a racket.
trish | 09.21.15 @ 18:15
I am a homemaker, but hope to get back to the workforce in the next few years. I know I won't bring home much, but it would be nice to put away for retirement again. One income, has made planning for the future near impossible, when you have to live in the now.
steven | 09.21.15 @ 18:17
Retirement is one of those things that we should all plan for but most never do.
Erin | 09.21.15 @ 18:19
These are some good, solid steps to be able to take some of the worry out of retiring.
Alec | 09.21.15 @ 18:20
My fiancé is going in to game development and I'm to go in to computer repair. Between the two of us, I'm hoping we will be able to plan and save for a comfortable retirement for the both of us. I'm fairly good at budgeting and couponing, saving as much as possible every week.
Bobbie | 09.21.15 @ 18:34
My mom retired a couple years ago. Her biggest adjustment has been to NOT spend money since she is now free all day every day.
Katie Greene | 09.21.15 @ 18:34
I have a while to figure it out, but good info to know. It's been a hard economy for people retiring
Apryl | 09.21.15 @ 18:35
I constantly worry about retirement.
Kyle | 09.21.15 @ 18:40
Planning is really the only thing you can do
Kailie | 09.21.15 @ 18:43
Lots of really good info in this article.
Morgan | 09.21.15 @ 18:45
Great article. I didn't know that at all.
Ron | 09.21.15 @ 18:46
I have no illusions that most folks, regardless of gender, will be working long past when they thought they would stop. And others not even having the option to stop versus even being destitute. The women I know in my age group mid 30s to mid 40s are planning on not retiring and not by design.
Angie Taylor
Insurance Agent in Montevallo, AL | 09.21.15 @ 18:47
Great article. Lots of good info for women getting close to retire.
gracie | 09.21.15 @ 18:47
I am not sure that retirement will ever be a reasonable financial choice for me. Cost of living far out paces the savings I can put away even living simply.
Sarah | 09.21.15 @ 18:53
A good plan with another, almost as good plan. are the keys to being ready...
Crystal | 09.21.15 @ 18:57
I almost couldn't read this because I know how bleak my outlook it.... Glad I read it though. I need to start taking action.
Beverly | 09.21.15 @ 19:06
This is good advise for men and women. Women do have a tendency to put others needs before themselves and don't think about planning for the future. It's always good to have a plan for those "what if's" situations.
Christina | 09.21.15 @ 19:21
Planning for retirement for any sex is hard this day and time. If you can put anything back is a big plus..
Kamie | 09.21.15 @ 19:25
This has some extra tips and things that I did not even think about. But, I think I am safe to say at being in my early 30's I am very well prepared.
George | 09.21.15 @ 19:28
It's good to work for a company that offers to match dollar to dollar retirement plan. It's the best way for me as of right now.
Zanna | 09.21.15 @ 19:32
I have a plan, but thinking about retirement as a homemaker with no steady income of my own still makes me a bit nervous.
Wanda Langley | 09.21.15 @ 19:39
I have already retired and I wish that I had planned a little better than I did. Great info.
Chrisitna | 09.21.15 @ 19:55
Sometimes even the best laid plans go awry :/ Working on Plan J now lol.
Amanda | 09.21.15 @ 20:17
I think planning for retirement is very important and I am on the road to getting a job with a great retirement plan.
Angie | 09.21.15 @ 20:42
Great thing to talk about with folks - time slips away so quickly. I'm one of those who's crossing fingers that I'll have my health as I don't see that I'll ever be able to "retire."
Jill | 09.21.15 @ 20:45
I am not sure if I will ever have enough to retire. I guess I have a while to figure it out.
Shannon | 09.21.15 @ 20:45
Retirement is hard to plan for with cost of living rising all the time.
Kate | 09.21.15 @ 20:49
I wish I would have known these things sooner, I would have been better prepared even now for retirement in 30 years. Hopefully I can catch up and get to where I should be in preparing for retirement
Kate | 09.21.15 @ 20:52
I wish I would have known these things sooner. I feel I would have been better prepared for retirement. Even tho its still about 30 years away, I am hoping i can get caught up to where I would be had I known about these tips.
Ambar | 09.21.15 @ 21:13
"Do something today your future self will thank you for".
$commenter.renderDisplayableName() | 11.28.20 @ 13:55