Women, Planning, and Retirement
When planning a wedding
we will ask anyone we encounter for tips or input
Today I am calling on all the Brides, Mothers, Managers, Mentors, and other amazing women "event planners.
For the majority of women, when planning a wedding or other spectacular event, we will ask anyone we encounter for tips or input on an idea floating around in our heads. However, if we are worrying about saving for retirement, we generally push those thoughts to the back burner for another day or toss and turn all night until we are swept back into our busy lives the next morning.
I believe embracing the concept of “putting yourself first” is one of the biggest challenges women face in saving for retirement.
As a woman, and mother, my first instinct is to look out for the best interests or wants of the others around me before considering my own. Aren't we the ones who always say “No, you go ahead and take the last one” when sharing a family appetizer during a evening out to dinner? This natural instinct to sacrifice for the benefit of the those we love can be a huge detriment in a world where the majority of us are responsible for saving for our own retirement.
With over 18 years in the retirement plan world it saddens me to see the discrepancy between men and women when it comes to retirement health; it can be seen on many levels. As a CPC (Certified Pension Consultant) with a TPA (Third Party Administration) practice, my work involves year-by-year in depth reviews of retirement plan contributions for businesses who offer 401(k), 403(b) or other deferred compensation retirement plans.
Years of looking at data have confirmed on average that:
Men contribute over more years than women - often starting sooner and with fewer breaks in participation over their careers.
Men contribute at higher savings rates - allowing them to accumulate savings faster
Men have higher account balances - This is of course a direct result of items 1 and 2 above
Women business owners wait longer in their careers to inquire about or set up a retirement strategy than men do.
~ Many Women Business Owners I speak with initially don’t even realize they can have a plan!
With the well known and documented, wage discrepancies between men and women, the first three observations really are not very surprising. What is surprising, is that even in the rare instances of an “even playing field” women usually participate at lower levels than men.
instances of an “even playing field” women usually participate at lower levels than men.
This is where I think our nurturing and giving instincts make us our own worst enemy. For men the idea of having a pension or retirement benefit seems to be perceived as a basic entitlement. Where for women it seems to be more of a dream or hope.
Well guess what ladies? It takes hard work and focus to turn any dream into reality.
We all know this at the most primitive level as the gender responsible for the difficult part of maintaining the continuation of the human race!
If women put the same level of focus into planning and saving for retirement as they do for weddings and children, I believe we would rapidly close the gender gap in retirement savings.
We are tremendous at strategizing and finding innovative solutions for life changing events such as weddings and children. We have proven time and again that we can accomplish amazing results working within a budget. We have the skills, we just need to collectively apply them to securing our own financial futures.
After all, it is statistically established that most of us will outlive our male counterparts, making it that much more important that we remember to financially prioritize ourselves. Besides we want to be able to enjoy our golden years and spoil our grandkids!