When it comes to planning one’s financial life, women have some additional challenges to consider, especially around retirement planning. Why? There are a few reasons. First, women typically earn less than men. According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2017, the gap between earnings for men and women is widening and there hasn’t been any real improvement in the last 10 years. Closer to home, the American Association of University Women’s report, The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap, states that in 2016, women working full-time in the United States were typically paid just 80% of what men were paid. That gap of 20% can make a real difference when saving for financial goals.
According to the World Economic Forum, it’s not just that men often get paid more for the same job. There are many more factors involved. For example, women are often working in lower-paid industries rather than higher-paying industries, like technology and finance. They also are more likely to work part-time or take breaks in their careers to meet child-care needs or provide care to parents and other relatives. Women are less likely to have senior executive positions than men. In addition, women have a higher statistical chance of living longer than men. While any person who lives to age 65 has a good chance of living into their 80s, a woman’s life expectancy is generally considered to be at least 5-6 years longer than a man’s life expectancy.
Add all of these factors up, and it means that women have a particularly strong need to pay attention to their finances. Here are a couple of suggestions to help women arrive at retirement age in good financial health:
Manage your own money or a portion of it.
Whether you are the main breadwinner for yourself or not, you need to have a portion of money that you manage, save, and invest. This means not only taking your turn at managing the household budget, paying the bills, and balancing the checkbook, but also taking part in major money decisions.
Invest for your future.
Carve out a portion of your earnings for retirement and try to increase the percentage each year by 1% until you get to 15-20%. That’s a big percentage, but steady increases now will be less painful than arriving at retirement’s door with too little money to last through your lifetime.
Focus on earning what you are worth.
Demand to be paid what you’re worth. Sharpen your negotiation skills, plan for conversations with managers, and ensure that you’re being fairly compensated.
Get a pre-nuptial agreement.
If you have your own assets prior to marriage, get a pre-nuptial agreement in place to secure your future should the marriage go sour.
Make balanced choices.
It’s true that parents have to juggle multiple financial goals, including college costs and retirement. Make sure you aren’t jeopardizing your future financial health by overcommitting to college funding for children. Options exist for meeting education goals and they should be evaluated rather than dismissed outright.
Take classes on budgeting, investing, and retirement planning. Read books and blogs from trusted sources. Ask questions. Enlist the help of a trusted financial advisor who can help you learn more about your financial options and plan for your financial health at all ages.
Just like physical fitness, financial fitness consists of making consistent progress within a larger goal. If your goal is a financially secure retirement, it can be done, even with challenges that are often most impactful for women. Take a step toward that goal today!
Andrea L. Blackwelder, CFP®, ChFC and Joseph D. Clemens, CFP®, EA are the founders and partners of Wisdom Wealth Strategies. Their shared passion is simple: to bring financial empowerment, understanding, and peace-of mind to people who wish to improve their financial future, build wealth for their families, and achieve financial independence. Click here to find out more about how you can work with Wisdom Wealth Strategies.