Gender Gap in Retirement Security Sentiment
The ninth annual America Saves Week survey indicates that more Americans doubt their ability to maintain their quality of life during their retirement years.
A slight majority of those surveyed, 52% of respondents, stated that they had a negative view of their retirement prospects. Results showed that women were particularly concerned about saving enough for retirement with only 47% of those surveyed saying they felt confident they are saving enough for their golden years. Among men surveyed, 57% said they had confidence they are saving adequately to meet their retirement goals.
The report, which was published by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), found that a gender gap exists in 12 key financial well-being indicators measured in the report, including net worth, savings plan, consumer debt, emergency savings, automatic savings outside of work, savings progress, and ability to pay off their mortgage before retirement. Generally speaking, men had a more favorable outlook on retirement, with 74% of those surveyed stating they have made progress in saving toward their goals, while only 67% of women surveyed could say the same.
Stephen Brobeck, executive director of the CFA, cited gender gaps in pay and wealth as the main cause of this difference. Studies conducted in 2014 found that, on average, women earn only 79% of what men earn for the same job with the same qualifications. A 2015 study by Financial Finesse also found that women have lower Social Security benefits, tend to live longer than men, and have less wealth in retirement as a result of lower-paying jobs. To earn the equivalent of a man’s retirement savings, a woman would need to save almost 25% more than her male counterpart.
Those who said they were not saving sufficiently for retirement, indicated high day-to-day living expenses, debt and education expenses to be a few of the main culprits.
Closing the Gap
Closing the gap if you’ve already fallen behind in your retirement savings can seem difficult; however, there are some proactive steps you can take to feel more secure in your financial future. Here are a few:
Come up with a plan: The study indicated that those who had a savings plan containing specific goals were more successful at planning for retirement, as well as felt more secure in their retirement savings. Coming up with a retirement savings plan is as simple as envisioning what your plans in retirement look like, calculating your expenses, and working with a financial advisor to establish a measurable action plan to catch up on lost time. With the help of professionals, those nagging burdens like debt and taxes, will also be factored into the plan.
Maximize tax savings: Tax diversification is critical to ensure your hard-earned savings aren’t hit hard with taxes in retirement. Consider a Roth IRA or Roth 401(k) to ensure your withdrawals are tax free.
Establish guaranteed income streams: Consider other steady, guaranteed income streams, such as pensions and Social Security, to cover the essentials in retirement.
Whether you are nearing retirement or still have a long way to go, it’s never the wrong time to start gaining traction on your retirement savings. It all starts with a plan. To get started, contact a financial advisor or other wealth management professional you trust to come up with a measurable, accountable action plan to help narrow the savings gap and help you build a more financially secure future.