Women and Retirement: A Face Behind the Facts and Figures
Women born amidst the baby boom (1946 to 1964) came of age believing that they could have it all: equality, family, careers, fitness, and prosperity. But, somewhere in this quest to “have it all”, we lost time. Leisure time in America remains “stubbornly gendered”.
I was raised by a strong, intelligent, hard-working, and resourceful woman. Born amidst the baby boom (1946 to 1964), my mom was part of the first generation of women that came of age believing that they could “have it all”: equality, family, careers, fitness, and prosperity.1 She passed these beliefs on to me.
Earlier in this series, we used the term “she-cession” and my mom is one reason this term made me bristle. She is one of the faces behind the studies and statistics mentioned in blog one and two. She is why I believe a lack of understanding or confidence is not the entire root of the issue. She is why I feel the root of the issue is - TIME.
The Leisure Gap
In our belief and quest to “have it all”, we lost time. The average man has about five and a half hours of free time a day, while the average woman has just under five.2 Liana Sayer, a sociologist at the University of Maryland, called American time use “stubbornly gendered”. On average, women devote more time each day to chores and looking after family members than men do. Additionally, the average American woman spends 28 more minutes a day than the average American man on “personal care”—a time-use category that encompasses activities such as showering, getting dressed, and applying makeup.3 So, while technically classified as a lack of confidence or understanding – we just don’t have the time to research retirement solutions or to even meet with the people who can do the research for us.
Earning less, living longer, and providing care
My mom is a Registered Nurse and devoted her time to others from the very beginning of her career. While she did earn less than my self-employed father, her career provided the steady income and health benefits our family relied on.
Then my dad suffered from early onset Alzheimer’s. So, as many widows realize – a large amount of their retirement savings went towards his healthcare. While she would not change the level of care given, a smaller retirement nest egg is her reality.
Health related retirement, a pension, and an encore career
Soon after my father passed, my mom encountered health issues of her own. Back and shoulder surgery left her with limited mobility. As a registered nurse in a large hospital, a requirement for her role was the ability to lift 60 pounds. At that time, my mom was forced to retire several years prior to her plan.
While initially worried about supporting herself financially, she had an income in retirement thanks to her career. My mom has a small pension that she feels is a good compliment to her social security and retirement savings.
Yet even with her financial concerns lessened, my mom wanted more. Not yet accustomed to living alone, she felt lonely and wanted a purpose - eventually addressing both needs in an encore career. My mom is now a very popular, part-time nurse in a small school where two of her grandkids attend. She loves going to work and swears the kids keep her young.
Addressing the gaps
As women, we read these studies and statistics that highlight gaps – whether the gap is related to wealth, pay, longevity, education, or time. Calling attention to these issues is important, but we cannot forget there are faces to these facts and figures. These gaps are made up of mothers, grandmothers, wives, widows, sisters, aunts, and friends.
My strong, intelligent, caring, and resourceful mom is making it all work, and having an income in retirement made a difference. Her pension bridges the gap in her retirement expenses. Not many companies offer a pension these days – in fact only 16% of private industry workers have access to this benefit today.4 But there are financial products designed to provide an income in retirement.
For additional information on creating an income in retirement please speak to your financial professional or visit the Alliance for Lifetime Income. (if you can find some spare time!)