Fifty-three percent of women plan to retire after the age of 65, including 13% who do not plan to ever retire, according to the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. Of those who plan to work past retirement age, 58% say they want the income, 48% say they are concerned that Social Security will provide them with less income than they expected, and 47% say it will be because they cannot afford to retire because they will not have saved enough.
Fifty-five percent of women are afraid they will outlive their savings, compared to 49% of men. Fifty-three percent of women think that Social Security will be reduced or will not exist at all, compared to 43% of men. Forty-eight percent of women fear that they will be unable to meet the basic financial needs of their family in retirement, compared to 36% of men. Forty-seven percent of women worry that they will need long-term care, compared to 34% of men, and 36% of women fear they will suffer cognitive decline, compared to 33% of men. Only 12% of women are very confident that they will be able to retire with a comfortable lifestyle.
The Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies says that these fears are warranted, as women face greater challenges than men, including earning 80.5% the salary of men, being more likely to work part-time and to take time out of the workforce for parenting or caregiving, as well as living longer.
Additionally, women face competing financial priorities, the Center says. Their biggest priority is paying off debt (68%), followed by saving for retirement (51%) and covering basic living expenses (41%).
Forty-five percent expect to self-fund their retirement, compared to 52% of men. Thirty-three percent of women say that Social Security will be their primary source of income in retirement, compared to 23% of men. Sixteen percent of women say that working in retirement will be their primary source of income, compared to 12% of me.
While 82% of men are saving for retirement, only 73% of women are. Both men and women started saving for retirement at the median age of 27.
While 75% of men are offered a retirement plan, only 66% of women are. While 28% of women work part time, only 14% of men do so.
While 77% of women who are offered a retirement plan participate in it, 84% of men do. Men contribute an average of 10% of their salary, while women contribute 7%. However, while 31% of men have taken an early withdrawal, loan or hardship withdrawal from their retirement plan, only 27% of women have done so.
While fully two-thirds, 66%, of men are saving for retirement outside of their workplace retirement plan, only 52% of women are doing the same. Women say their total retirement savings median is $42,000, and men say it is $123,000. Thirty-eight percent of men say they have saved $250,000 or more, but only 20% of women can say the same. In fact, 21% of women and 12% of men have less than $10,000 in retirement savings.
Women have an average of $2,000 saved for an emergency; men, $10,000. Seventy-two percent of women and 57% of men are unaware of the Saver’s Credit.
Steps employers can take
The Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies recommends that employers offer a retirement plan and offer other health and welfare benefits, such as health and life insurance, to enhance and protect workers’ long-term financial security. For employers that offer a retirement plan, the Center asks that they extend eligibility to part-time employees. If this is not feasible, the Center says, employers should promote saving in an individual retirement account (IRA).
Additionally, adding automatic enrollment and escalation can increase participation in the plan and deferral rates. Discouraging loans and withdrawals can limit leakage, and stretch matches could encourage workers to save more. Straightforward education about retirement savings goals can motivate workers to save more. Pre-retirees could benefit from assistance in planning their transition to retirement, such as education about distribution and retirement income options. Employers should also consider offering older workers to work part time.
Steps women can takeNoting that only 13% of women say they discuss saving and planning for retirement with their family and friends, the Center says the first step that women can take to improve their financial outlook is to start a conversation about retirement. They should also calculate their retirement needs. While 55% of women say they have guessed how much they will need, only 37% of men have done the same.
Additionally, women should learn how their retirement savings are invested. Thirty-two percent of women say they are not sure of how the funds are invested, compared to only 13% of men.
While 42% of men are very familiar with their partner’s or spouse’s retirement savings, only 32% of women are. The Center also recommends that women learn about Social Security benefits and develop a written retirement strategy; only 11% of women have a written retirement strategy, compared to 21% of men. The Center also recommends that women work with a financial adviser and take steps to remain healthy, so that they are able to work past age 65. Only 33% of women work with a financial adviser, compared to 45% of men.
The Center’s full report, Here and Now: How Women Can Take Control of Their Retirement, can be downloaded here. The findings are based on an online survey of 6,372 workers that The Harris Poll conducted between last August and October.