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By the numbers: women and retirement

Having the retirement you deserve.

To be honest, the stats aren’t great. Some of us may outlive our retirement funds because we’re all living longer and women, in general, have lower lifetime savings because they often don’t work as many years. Plus, they may not be as proactive in their retirement planning as men.

Indeed, the “Fourteenth Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey” (March 2014)1 identifies numerous key factors placing women at greater risk of not achieving a secure retirement than men. We’ve highlighted some of these facts below.

Clearly, we’ve got a lot of work to do. But the good news is that, no matter where you are in your retirement planning, it’s not too late. Our Agents or Registered Representatives can help you stretch your retirement income and pursue a secure retirement.

The Social Security myth:
  • 31% of women expect to rely on Social Security compared to only 23% of men.
Women live longer than men.
  • According to data from the Social Security Administration, a 65-year-old man today can expect to live on average, until age 84; a 65-year-old woman today can expect to live, on average, until age 86.
Few women are confident about retirement:
  • Only 7% of women are “very confident” in their ability to fully retire with a comfortable lifestyle, compared to 13% of men.
Most women plan to retire after age 65 or not at all:
  • 43% expect to work past age 70 or do not plan to retire vs 41% of men.
Most women plan to continue working in retirement:
  • More than 50% of women plan to work after they retire: 45% plan to work part-time and 7% plan to work full-time. Among men, 55% plan to work as well, with 44% planning to go part-time and 12% planning to become full-time.
Most Baby Boomer women don’t have a backup plan:
  • If forced into retirement sooner than expected, 17% of women vs. 26% of men have a backup plan.
Time off for caregiving negatively impacts retirement:
  • About one in four women has or expects to take time off from the workforce for caregiving for a child or aging parent.
  • Of the women who have or plan to take time out of the workforce, 74% believe that it will negatively impact their ability to save for retirement.
Many women work part-time:
  • Women are more likely to work part-time than men–due to parental and/or caregiver responsibilities. Some 45% of women work part-time compared to only 24% of men.
Women are less likely to be offered retirement benefits:
  • This is true because part-time workers overall are less likely to be offered a retirement plan.
Women’s participation lags in 401(k) or similar plan:
  • Of the women who are offered a 401(k) or similar plan, 75% participate vs 80% of men.
Women’s annual contributions lag in 401(k) or similar plan:
  • Of those currently participating in their employers’ plans, women contribute an average of 9.3% vs 9.8% for men.
Women’s savings outside of work:
  • More than 55% are saving for retirement outside of work compared to 66% of men.
Women guess their retirement savings needs:
  • Since women live longer than men, they need to save more to support their extended retirement years. However, women estimate retirement savings at $500,000 vs. men’s estimated retirement savings of $700,000.
  • 59% of women said they had “guessed” when asked about how they arrived at their savings needs. Only 6% said they had completed a worksheet/done a calculation while only 2% had the amount provided by a financial advisor.
Women’s use of professional advisors:
  • Only 35% of women report using a professional financial advisor.
Women want information that is easier to understand:
  • 53% would like educational materials that are easier to understand and/or a good starting point that is easy to understand.

Ready to get started? Quick steps you can take now.

Boost your financial savvy. There are plenty of financial websites which can help you learn the basics and more about saving and investing. And the more you know, the more confident you’ll be in your choices.

Know your numbers. It may seem overwhelming, but it should only take a few minutes to calculate your savings, assets, and expenses. By doing this, you’ll know your starting point for your retirement savings, plus you may be surprised at your expenses and may be able to cut out some unnecessary expenses.

Maximize your employer’s retirement plan. Many employers match at least part of your contribution to a company-sponsored retirement plan. It’s free money, take it! Some of the stats may seem daunting, but keep your eye on the retirement finish line, and you’ll cross it before you know it.

1 Transmerica Center for Retirement Studies, Fourteen Facts About Women’s Retirement Outlook…and Seven Steps to Improve It,“