You've probably heard it before: the earlier you start saving for retirement, the better off you could be later in life. Unfortunately, women are at a greater disadvantage than men when it comes to saving for their golden years. Women may take time off to have children, and women make less money than men throughout the course of their lifetime, which means they have less money to put away.
This article will cover the basics to help women learn how they can better prepare for retirement and tackle important questions, such as: What age should women be when they retire? How can women save more money for retirement?
How is retirement planning different for women?
Retirement planning for women looks different for several reasons:
- Women live longer than men
- Women retire earlier than men
- Women earn less than men
Statistics from the Center for Disease Control show that women usually live longer than men — 79 versus 73 — which means their savings have to last longer.
In 2021, the average retirement age for men was 65, compared to 62 for women, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston CollegeIn addition to earning less on average than men, women also spend more time away from work for various reasons, such as raising children or taking care of aging parents. Once these circumstances change, many women choose to go back to work but according to the U.S. Census, that pay gap widens as women age and women who work only part-time are unlikely to have access to employer-sponsored retirement plans. Unfortunately, when many of these women return to the office, they don't have the earnings power they had before. Being aware of these differences can help women be better prepared for retirement as they consider how to choose the right age to retire and how to advocate for equal pay throughout their career.
Gender retirement gap
Because women tend to get paid less than men, they earn less over the course of their lifetime. In fact, according to The Institute for Women's Policy Research, women earned only 83% of what men earned per week in 2021. This gender wage gap makes it harder for women to save because they have less to contribute to Social Security and their retirement plans, contributing to the gender retirement gap.
Retirement age for women
The average retirement age for women is around 62. For women who are able to choose when they retire and are not forced into retirement due to health, disability or employer termination, it may be beneficial to consider retiring later.
Since women live longer and typically don't have as much retirement savings as men, more time in the workforce can allow women to save more money for retirement. And while you can receive Social Security benefits as early as age 62, you will need to wait until you reach full retirement age to get the full payout you're entitled to.
Financial and retirement basics for women
There are ways women can learn more about how to manage their finances and save more money for retirement. Here are the basics:
- Gain more financial knowledge by listening to podcasts, reading articles such as those in Protective's learning center and enrolling in financial education classes. Confused about how much money you should have tucked away for retirement? This article has information on determining how much money you may need before retiring.
- Delay collecting Social Security so that your benefit is higher. Calculate your Social Security benefits here.
- Find additional sources of income to accrue more funds for retirement, whether that's an enjoyable side gig or selling items you no longer need.
- Seek help from a financial professional, but make sure to research your choices thoroughly.
- Consider getting long-term care insurance, which can provide coverage for services incurred at an assisted living or nursing facility that aren't covered by regular health insurance, disability insurance or Medicare.
- Consider life insurance to protect your assets and family in the event that something unexpected happens to you. It can used to cover outstanding debt, pay for college and more.
- Automate payments to a retirement account so that a designated amount of money is pulled out of your banking accounts every month, preventing you from spending that money on anything else.
- Review our retirement planning basics to get started navigating the process of planning for retirement.
Closing the retirement gap
There isn't one surefire way to close the gender retirement gap. However, it's essential for women to educate themselves and take an active role in their retirement planning.
If you have a spouse or partner, communication about retirement planning is absolutely crucial. If you don't have a partner or are working with a professional, don't assume that they will do it all for you. Read up on retirement planning strategies and talk to trusted friends and family before making big decisions. And finally, don't wait. Start saving for retirement today — even if you have debt that needs to be paid off. You can do both.