Apparently, women are not as prepared for retirement as are men. At least, that seems to be what is coming out of recent pronouncements and surveys. This includes the U.S. Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau, the AARP, and a new study released from Bloomington, Illinois-based Country Financial. It all points to a gender gap on the subject of saving for retirement. The Country Financial survey, which had some 3,000 respondents nationwide, found that men’s biggest fear about retirement was not having the resources to do what they would like to do while women were closely split between the same concerns and also worrying that they will run out of money. Men, on the other hand, said they were much more likely to have taken adequate steps to alleviate this particular fear. According to Keith Brannan, vice president of financial security for Country Financial, women have to consider that they may have earned less than men and could live some seven to 12 years longer than their husbands. “It takes a lot of planning and prioritizing. If people don’t accept that burden, they won’t feel financially secure for retirement.” One financial advisor told me that he has seen this same concern among his clients where women look to be more troubled about retirement and men are just the opposite, even expressing overconfidence. According to the Labor Department, of the 59 million women currently earning a salary nationwide, only 47 percent have a retirement plan and nearly half of all women working do not have a 401(k). In fact, it is reported that a retired woman’s median income in 2004 was $12,080 compared to $21,102 for men. Another reason for concern. The AARP says that on average, a woman’s monthly Social Security check is around $800+ compared to more than $1,100 for men. So, is it any wonder that women have this concern? Of course, most people do acknowledge a need for early savings toward retirement but in actuality, they don’t do so. Only 42 percent of men and 35 percent of women actually began putting money aside by the time they reached age 30. Brannan says that given all the negative news about the economy, he doesn’t find it surprising that people have become more pessimistic about retirement. “However, the growing disconnect between how men and woman feel emphasizes the crucial need for families to talk about money matters. With proper planning, a secure retirement is achievable for almost anyone, no matter their gender.” For more information on this entire subject, take a look at www.countryfinancialsecurityindex.com.
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