Many of us have heard about the wage gap, but the less discussed retirement income gap can be just as influential—for our country, and for women in particular. Women historically have been more financially vulnerable in retirement than men: 

  • They traditionally earn less and accumulate less retirement savings and benefits than men.1
  • Women live longer and are more likely to outlive their savings—and, in the case of married women, their spouses.2

If you are a woman who is earning wealth, you can take steps starting now towards closing this retirement income gap.

"Women who start taking steps today to help protect and grow their wealth can change the story of women in retirement."

Make sure you’re paid what you’re worth.

Getting informed is your first step, so you need to do your research. Tools like Pay Scale's salary report provide insight for what someone with your level of education, in your geographical region, in your sector, in your position, is getting paid on average. In exchange for completing a quick survey, they will provide you with a full salary report.

While women may still be perceived differently than men when they negotiate for a pay raise, they may be more likely to see a pay bump if they enter the conversation with research in hand. Giving a greater context to the value of the role makes the conversation about a situation, rather than making it feel like a battle of two individuals. Your wage isn’t just about your take-home income. It’s about your future investment income, which leads to our next point…

Start investing. Now. With a financial advisor.

Given the wage gap and longer life expectancies, women actually need to invest more than men. But the opposite is happening. Fifty-seven percent of women didn’t invest a dime in 2017, versus 44 percent of men.3 While part of the investment gap is due to the wage gap, women are also less likely to invest the money they do earn. If handed $1,000, men are 2.5 times more likely than women to say they would put that money into stocks.4 Women can also have more to juggle—for example, being primary caregivers— and they often take longer career breaks than men. A financial advisor can save you time by tailoring an investment plan that meets you where you are. They can also help introduce you to options—such as annuities*—that can provide protected lifetime income.** Learning about how your investments fit into a larger financial picture makes you empowered to find a practical approach to your dreams.

If you’re married, and you already have an advisor for both of you, make sure you’re an equal half of the advisor relationship.

Many women trust their spouses to serve as the primary contact. Women’s trust in their spouse, however, may be hindering their own financial preparedness. Men often worry about their spouses’ ability to take on financial responsibilities if needed. It’s a valid fear—less than half of women are confident in their own ability to assume responsibility over investments and financial planning.5

Financial advisors can serve as the bridge to ensure both spouses are engaged and prepared.

Women who start taking steps today to help protect and grow their wealth can change the story of women in retirement. By making what you’re worth and working with an advisor to set a personal strategy that’s tailored to your goals, you can go into retirement with the freedom to live on your own terms.

 

1 “Senators Murray, Cantwell Introduce Bill to Address Retirement Gap, Bolster Women’s FInacnial Security,” Patty Murray, Washington Senate, September, 2018.

2 “Retirement Plan for Women Outliving Spouses,” The Balance, October, 2018.

3 “Acorns Equal Pay Day – Stats on the Gender Investing Gap,” 2017.

4 “Acorns Equal Pay Day – Stats on the Gender Investing Gap,” 2017.

5 “Women and Financial Wellness: Beyond the Bottom Line,” Merrill Lynch, 2018.

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*What is an annuity?

Annuities are long-term, tax-deferred investments designed for retirement. Variable annuities involve risks and may lose value. Earnings are taxable as ordinary income when distributed and may be subject to a 10% additional tax if withdrawn before age 59½. Optional benefits are available for an extra charge in addition to the ongoing fees and expenses of the variable annuity.

**Guarantees are backed by the claims paying ability of the issuing insurance company. 

Investing involves risk, including possible loss of principal.

The opinions and forecasts expressed are those of the author and individuals quoted and should not be construed as a recommendation or as complete.

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