Should Women Plan Differently for Retirement?

Retirement is a big goal, no matter how far you are into your career. Hopefully you’re already saving and preparing for the day you don’t have to work anymore. When you’ve been charting your progress, do you take your gender into account? If you’re a woman, some things stay the same when preparing for old age, but some roadblocks are drastically different.

Longer lives

If you are a woman, science has shown that you are more likely to live longer than your male counterparts. According to Smithsonian Magazine, as of late 2018 your current life expectancy as an American woman is 81.1 years old, but men average out at 76.1 years. This means that you might be disposed to live longer – which is more time you need to live off your savings.

Living longer if you’re a woman has another consequence – living alone. According to Alessandra Malito of MarketWatch, men have an 80 percent chance of dying married, but when you’re a woman you have an eighty percent chance of dying single. That means not only do you have to pay to live longer, but any expenses shared with a spouse, like housing, will eventually be yours to bear alone.

Healthcare considerations

If you’re going to live longer, it makes sense that you will end up spending more for healthcare. However, not all of that larger expense is because of your increased years. Malito reports that you can expect to pay about 30 percent more on healthcare costs in retirement than men. A large piece of that is because you have a higher chance of developing a chronic illness. Not only that, but if your spouse predeceases you, there will be no unpaid caretaker to help you around the home.

The rising cost of healthcare means that if you’re a woman, you should take these statistics seriously. Besides saving even more money to anticipate these prices, you can choose to invest in a long-term care insurance policy. Diane Bourdo, author of “Rewriting the Rules: Telling Truths About Women and Money” told Larry Light of Forbes that these policies might be pricey, but if an expensive disease strikes then such insurance coverage can help you afford the care to maintain your standard of living.

More interruptions

Saving for retirement is important regardless of your gender, but if you’re a woman you might need to save more in preparation for periods when you can’t work. Traditional gender roles mean that you are more likely to face a gap in employment for child or elder care as a woman. While you are still doing as much work supporting your family, since you’re not drawing a paycheck there is nothing to contribute to a 401(k) or other retirement plan. Even if you stay in the office, Amber Kelly, an investment adviser representative with Global Wealth Management, writes for Kiplinger that you’re more likely than men to turn down promotions or more hours, as well as the extra money that comes from them, so you can have a better work-life balance.

You might not be comfortable talking about money, especially if your spouse manages the household expenses. For guidance and advice, consider speaking honestly to a financial professional to make sure that your golden years are all you hope them to be.