We tend to think of Kiplinger as a reliable source for straightforward, fairly conservative financial reporting. So when Kiplinger sounds the alarm, it might be a good idea to pay close attention.
That was our reaction when we read this article that was published very recently on this authoritative financial website. The title, over a scary photo of ominous storm clouds, reads “Baby Boomer Women Have a Big Retirement Problem Ahead.” The author, financial planner Linda Gardner, writes, “A perfect storm of financial factors related to caregiving and careers has created a looming retirement crisis” for women. The article explains “why women in or near retirement should be especially worried, and what they need to do now.” The gist of the article, as we’ll see, is that for a variety of reasons women are approaching retirement age ill-prepared financially for what lies ahead, and in Gardner’s view, there are financial steps these women boomers can take immediately that might put them in better financial condition when they officially stop working for a living.
Before we dive into the article itself, we do want to state our reservations up front. There’s an old saying that goes, “If you’re a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” Here at AgingOptions we would amend that to say, “If you’re a financial planner – like Linda Gardner writing in Kiplinger – every problem looks like a financial problem.” Finances are critically important to a secure retirement, it’s true, but they’re not the entire picture, not by a long shot. Whether you’re a man or a woman, married or single, planning for sound finances alone will not guarantee you a truly secure retirement because you can have all the money you could want and still face retirement disaster. The answer is a LifePlan from AgingOptions, which we’ll describe below.
In the Kiplinger article, Linda Gardner states that, “In survey after survey, people who are in retirement — or close to it — say their No. 1 worry is running out of money. They should be worried,” she adds. “Especially women.” Part of the challenge in her view is that “Attitudes and expectations about what women hoped to accomplish with their finances aren’t exactly matching up with reality” – or in other words, in spite of the promise of better education and better jobs than their mothers and grandmothers had ever dreamed of, many boomer women today are facing retirement with far fewer resources than they might have anticipated. Linda Gardner gives several reasons why she believes this disparity exists, and why today the poverty rate for women 65 and older is double what it is for men. The possible reasons include:
- The fact that women remain, statistically, their family’s primary caregivers – interrupting careers to raise kids, and now facing similar interruptions to care for elderly parents, often with devastating results to their ability to set aside retirement money
- Many of today’s boomer women actually faced limited career choices three and four decades ago, taking jobs offering lower pay and fewer (if any) retirement benefits
- While the numbers are improving, women have participated in retirement plans at a far lower rate than their male counterparts, partly due to job changes and partly due to the fact that “mom’s salary” often went to pay for immediate family needs and not long-term saving
- It’s still true that fewer women than men pay close attention to financial planning, says Gardner, even though women may manage their household finances and pay all the bills. Getting both spouses on the same “planning page” is vital in order to make sure each will be able to manage their affairs independently should the other pass away
- Gardner writes that the average age for women taking Social Security benefits is the lowest age possible – 62 – while for men it’s 64. This permanently locks women into a reduced monthly payment, crimping their financial health for the rest of their lives
- More women than men will one day wind up living on their own. Some never marry and some experience divorce. As for the woman who stays married, Gardner writes, “Statistics say she’ll likely outlive her husband and could lose some or all of her husband’s monthly pension payment, if he had one, as well as some of their Social Security benefits. In these scenarios, her income is reduced while the living expenses go on, more rapidly reducing her savings and her retirement lifestyle.”
- Because women outlive men, they’re more likely to require long-term care at some point in their lives.
Gardner’s article in Kiplinger ends by saying, “For the average woman, a long life is likely, and planning for it is a necessity.” We agree completely – only all the planning bullet points she cites are financial. As we said above, you’ll need a far more comprehensive plan than that to retain your assets in retirement, avoid becoming a burden to those you love, and escape the fate of being forced against your will into institutional care. If you are a woman – or a man, for that matter – contemplating retirement, we urge you to investigate the power of a LifePlan from AgingOptions. LifePlanning means your finances, legal affairs, housing strategies, and medical needs are all carefully woven together to create a plan that is robust, well-rounded, and complete. We even take into account the essential element of communication with your family, to guarantee that they understand and will support your retirement goals and wishes.
No matter whether you’re well set financially or deeply concerned about your resources, the time is now to learn about an AgingOptions LifePlan. Join Rajiv Nagaich soon at a free LifePlanning Seminar – our highly popular, information-packed, interactive sessions which we offer at locations throughout the Puget Sound region. Bring your spouse and adult children, and get your questions about retirement answered by the Pacific Northwest’s foremost retirement planning expert. Click here for details and online registration, or contact us during the week and register by phone.
For a clearer view of your retirement future than you ever thought possible – and greater peace of mind than you’ve experienced in years – join us soon. Age on!
(originally reported at www.kiplinger.com)