Retirement Planning Tips for Women

Women have different retirement concerns than men, which is understandable when you consider the challenges they face in achieving a financially secure retirement. Income disparities and time out of the workforce are among factors that will reduce retirement savings as well as Social Security and employer-provided retirement benefits. At the same time, longer lifespans will necessitate more savings to produce additional years of retirement income.

According to a recent study* on women’s retirement planning perspectives by the Insured Retirement Institute (IRI), 8 in 10 women have concerns about saving enough for retirement, with the majority, 54 percent, saying they are “very concerned.” The report also found that women, compared to their male counterparts, have more concerns about financial issues and their ability to retire. For example, 54 percent of women are very concerned about being able to retire when they want to, and 53 percent of women are very concerned about being able to afford the lifestyle they want throughout retirement. This compares to 34 percent and 36 percent of men, respectively.

Longer life and longer disability: Women outlive men who are the same age by three to four years on average, and as a result, make up the majority of older Americans. And more of their longer life is expected to include some form of disability. Males age 65 are expected to spend 1.5 years with mild or moderate disability and 1.5 years more severely disabled. In contrast, women age 65 are expected to spend 3.0 years with mild or moderate disability and 2.8 years more severely disabled.

Planning horizons inadequate: Although women are expected to live longer, they tend to plan for about the same period of time as men. In fact, both groups often plan for too short a period, but the magnitude of the shortfall is greater for women. It is further compounded by the fact that women average lower pay and have fewer years in the labor force than men. This makes it harder to grow their pensions and Social Security benefits.

To overcome these challenges, women need to channel their concerns into positive actions. Here are some tips for women to better address these issues:

  1. Participate with your partner in employee benefit plan decisions and in elections when there are choices.
  2. Think about the retirement security issues that apply when making decisions about leaving or taking a job, and about getting married or getting divorced. Pay particular attention to retirement issues at the time of divorce.
  3. Build a retirement plan that works not only for a couple, but also for both individuals if they are not together. They should plan for the remaining life of the longer-lived member of the couple.
  4. Consider risks and shocks including the need for long term care, disability, major health expenses and investment risk in planning.

Your financial advisor can help you and/or your spouse understand the risks women face and plan for a successful financial future.

*Information taken from “Women’s Perspectives on Saving, Investing and Retirement Planning,” a study conducted by the Insured Retirement Institute (IRI), November 2015. Click here to view the full study.

The information, statistics, and opinions reported herein are from sources believed to be reliable. However, AFES and/or the author of this blog do not guarantee or claim responsibility for the truth, accuracy, and reliability of any source, fact and/or statistic cited and may not necessarily agree with any opinions expressed by such sources.


Adult Financial Education Services (AFES)



  1. September 29, 2017 at 6:28 pm

    That sounds like a good idea to plan for the individuals too because one member of the couple will probably live longer than the other. My husband and I are still fairly young, but it’s probably never too early to actually start planning. We’ll have to find someone to help us plan our retirement so that we do everything right.

  2. November 22, 2017 at 11:22 pm

    The best part of your article for me is when you talked about how you must find a retirement plan that not only works for a couple but also for both individuals. My marriage with my husband is on the rocks right now, and I want to be prepared for whatever may happen. It’s important to me now that I’m aging that I have the retirement plan that will work for me even if my husband and I are no longer together. My goal now is to get help on retirement planning from a financial advisor.