Women's History Month is celebrated every March and honors the contributions women have made to history and to the betterment of society. In the spirit of this notable celebration, a look at LIMRA consumer research provides clues as to what contributions women are making to improve their personal financial future.
LIMRA research consistently shows that Americans' top financial concern for both women and men is saving enough for retirement. Women track slightly higher on this question at 83 percent compared to men at 77 percent. For other financial goals, women prioritize establishing an emergency fund, getting out of debt and maintaining a good credit score higher than men do.
Taking action on savings goals presents a formidable challenge for women. Only 20 percent of women are comfortable with their level of financial knowledge, which often contributes to a lack of planning or taking action. In fact, LIMRA research finds that women are less likely than men to have done basic retirement planning activities. (chart)
There are valid reasons why saving is tougher for women. According to Bureau of Labor statistics from 2014, the median wage for women was 83 percent of men’s wages. Lower salary over a working career, combined with breaks in employment to care for children and other family members affects retirement savings and results in lower Social Security income. The fact that women usually live longer than men only adds to the challenges women confront when planning for retirement and mitigating their longevity risk.
Yet, all is not doom and gloom because women recognize they need help. Six in 10 agree that professional advice is needed for retirement and evaluating current savings plans. Fifty-one percent of women also said their need for professional advice has increased over the last few years, compared to 45 percent for men.
While plenty of challenges lie ahead, recognition of the problem is the first step to solving it. Women who begin taking action to create a savings plan can make a difference in their contributions to their financial future.