Halloween is a time that it’s actually fun to be scared. It comes in small doses and we can always tell ourselves it’s not real if we get really scared. So brace yourself for a haunted list of numbers that paint a ghoulish picture for women’s personal finance. You may have heard some of them before. Even if they aren’t precisely correct, they add up to a scary challenge for women preparing for retirement: $.77, 11, 5, 80%.
First is the gender disparity in pay. Women earn 77 cents (or 78, or 80) for every dollar that men earn. There are supposedly areas where the gap is closing, but for most women it is a huge headwind to being able to save sufficient amounts. Over a lifetime of work this amounts to a big difference in the amount saved for retirement. When it come to pay it seems particularly important when receiving your very first job offer to ask the simple question, “Is it negotiable?”
Next, eleven years is the time women spend out of the workforce to care for children or ailing elders. This is time off when women are not climbing the ladder, keeping skills current and receiving pay increases. The result is fewer years to contribute to a 401k or other retirement savings vehicles.
Five years is the amount of years that women tend to outlive men. Five years to spend money in retirement that men aren’t around to worry about. They are now ghosts in this haunted house.
Lastly, the sobering statistic that they didn’t tell you years ago; 80 percent (I’ve recently seen 90%) of women will be solely responsible for their financial well being at some point in their lives. Yes at some point you will be on your own. Count on it.
Any one of these numbers suggests a retirement planning challenge. Put them all together and it feels like the horror movie moment when the zombies are just outside the door and they are coming in.
It’s not like me to harp on the negative but I keep coming across these numbers in my reading. From a planning perspective it is imperative to take a more active role in your money life. It is scary to do that. Frankly, it can be scarier not to.
We all have emotions around money and our own personal fears. Face them head on, seek education and help and acknowledge that it will require diligence to adequately prepare for being on one’s own.
Sometimes getting scared is fun and sometimes it can be motivating. Staring it down and taking action can be the best and most empowering experience of all.