Women may have advanced academically and up the career ladder, but there is still a ways to go in terms of retirement readiness. A new study from ING Retirement Research Institute shows that on average, women have $41,000 less saved than men over the course of a lifetime. For women with children, that gap expands to $61,000.
According to the study, among those who have savings in or outside of an employer-sponsored retirement plan, men have substantially more saved than women, $149,000 on average, compared to women, who averaged $108,000 in total savings. For women with children at home, this retirement savings figure dropped even further to $88,000.
A key driver of total retirement savings is the percentage of salary that individuals contribute to their employer-sponsored retirement plan. More women (42%) than men (34%) contributed just 1% to 5% of their salary into their plans. And fewer women (25%) than men (33%) have a formal investment plan to reach their retirement goals. In addition, well over half (56%) of women do not feel financially prepared for retirement, compared to only 42% of men.
“It is clear that many women — regardless of their age or life stage — must do more to save for their retirement,” says Maliz Beams, CEO of ING U.S. Retirement. “The combination of living longer and saving less can hamper a woman’s ability to reach her goals.”
Mothers face additional hurdles when it comes to building their retirement security — while the income gap between men and women has narrowed in recent years, mothers tend to spend more time out of the workforce due to caregiver responsibilities. This reality reduces their earning and savings potential and also lowers Social Security benefits. Just over half (53%) of mothers have less than $25,000 saved in their employer-sponsored retirement plan and less than two-thirds (65%) of mothers are receiving their employer’s full company match compared to more than three-quarters (76%) of fathers.
The percentage of single women 18 years or older in the United States has more than doubled in the last fifty years from 12% to 25%, according to the Pew Research Center. These women may be managing day-to-day household expenses on their own, while also trying to plan and save for retirement. More single women (69%) said they relied on their own research or family and friends for financial guidance than married women (63%) and single women were less likely to work with a financial professional (21%) than married, divorced or widowed women (31%). Approximately one quarter (26%) of single women spent some or a lot of time thinking about retirement, compared to a greater number (44%) of widowed/divorced women.
The study also found that women across the generations have differences in their approach to retirement and planning. Gen Y women are most likely to have barriers to saving (86%) compared to women 35 or older (74%) and more than half of Gen Y women (56%) have outstanding student loans, which can be an impediment to saving. More than half (54%) of women ages 50-64 have not calculated how much money they will need to continue their current lifestyle after retirement.
“We can see that the financial planning needs and retirement savings goals of women reflect the demands of their lives, and for many it is a challenge to identify what needs come first,” says Beams. “Working with a financial professional can help women address and prioritize their distinct situations so they can be best prepared for retirement.”
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