Women Worse at Retirement Saving: Here's What to Do
Start putting your needs first and don't be afraid to talk dollars and cents
Women are increasingly the breadwinners in their households, but a recent report finds that they are worse at saving for retirement than their male counterparts.
Investment firm Scottish Widows revealed that, at 10 percentage points, the gender gap in retirement saving has reached a record high, equating to a difference of $48,100. Though the report was specific to the UK - stating that their women save an average of $1,252 less than men each year - the United States sees its women lagging behind, too.
Vanguard, an investment company, found that its male clients' account balances were 50 percent to 60 percent higher than those of women. Men's average account balance was $94,063, compared with women's $59,104, while their median account balance was $31,388, compared with women’s $20,877.
The report acknowledged that women in its sample tended "to have lower incomes and shorter job tenure than men."
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However, experts also cite personality traits and lifestyle choices as reasons behind women's savings shortcomings, not just the circumstances of their employment.
"Women typically watch after the 'village' not after 'self,'" said Kimberly Friedmutter, an acclaimed life management expert. "It literally takes a village to urge a woman to spend on herself, let alone to save for herself because we are nurturers by nature. Women are also positively driven versus negatively driven, meaning we don't often see our futures as consequential. We overestimate our health and wealth, not fully believing in the rainy day."
And while women need to understand that "rainy days" are possible, the tendency for women to view their savings as the "rainy day" fund can be just as detrimental, according to Lynn Graves of Scottish Widows. In an interview with CNBC, Graves said women too often view their savings as a pot to dip into to cover unexpected costs at any time, and not as a fund to pay their expenses when the time comes that they either cannot or do not wish to work any longer.
And as people continue to live longer while having fewer children, ever more older retirees will be completely reliant on their pension or retirement funds to support themselves.
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