Written By Own Your Destiny Team
A recent survey conducted by Bustle found that 28% of Millennial women reported feeling stressed about money every single day. This just illustrates how important education pertaining to financial health for women is. By gaining financial literacy early on, women can be better prepared to take on the economic challenges they may face down the road.
The majority of Millennial women aren’t even thinking about retirement and it’s easy to understand why. It’s a long way off, so why worry about it now? But the truth is that saving for retirement now is probably the smartest financial decision you can make. This goes for people of all genders, but it’s especially important for women to start saving for retirement as early as possible. Here are a few reasons why financial health for women in retirement is so vital:
Women live longer
Living longer can be a good thing, but that really depends on what you can feasibly afford. Today, the Social Security Administration estimates the average life expectancy for a women is 86.6 years — 2.3 years longer than the average man. Conservatively speaking, a woman might have to pay for two years or more of living expenses on her own, as well as any unexpected medical or long-term care costs. Not surprisingly, there are generally more women in nursing homes than men simply due to their longer lifespans. Unfortunately, living longer doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily going to be healthier. And because healthcare costs can be astronomical, if a woman’s spouse also has health issues prior to their death, many women are forced to struggle financially in their old age.
Women are often paid less
No matter how much progress we’ve made, the glass ceiling very much still exists. The relationship between women and money is complex, especially as it pertains to the pay gap, but the bottom line is that women earn about 80 cents on the dollar — and women of color may earn even less. Not only are women more likely to be paid less in full-time positions than men are, but more women work part-time jobs than men do. When women bring home less income, they don’t have as much financial security or even the freedom to invest.
Women may spend less time in the workforce
On top of the lower wages, women often have fewer years to work. Whether they leave their jobs to have children or become caregivers for elderly relatives, they often don’t spend as long earning a living. Although things have changed some since 2005, a Harvard Business School study found that 43% of women left a job voluntarily to care for their children and 44% said their decision to leave a job was due to family obligations. The duty to provide care falls on the shoulders of working women, many times during years wherein they could be earning their highest wages.
Women receive lower pensions and fewer Social Security benefits
Even very financially aware women might be mistaken in thinking that their pensions or Social Security benefits will ensure they’re taken care of during retirement. But because women often have fewer years in the workforce and are paid less overall, they aren’t able to put as much into a 401(k) and will have lower Social Security benefits, particularly if they haven’t been in the workforce for 35 years or longer.
Clearly, the importance of financial health for women cannot be understated. But if all of this information seems overwhelming, you certainly aren’t alone in feeling that way. Ultimately, it’s important for young women to start saving for retirement now. The longer your gains have to grow, the better off you’ll be when you retire at age 65. Of course, having a thorough understanding of financial health for women — not just for retirement but throughout your life — will allow you to understand what changes need to be made. A female financial coach can help you focus on what you can do in the here and now to ensure you won’t have to struggle later on.