How to close the gender gap in retirement planning

Planning for retirement

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - When it comes to saving for retirement, both men and women are falling behind, but recent studies show women will have a tougher time getting through retirement without going broke.

One study from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found a 26 percent gender gap in retirement shortfall. According to the study, the average 45-year-old woman will be short $522,262 for retirement while the average man that age will be short $267,233.

“Typically, when you have children, who ends up taking a break? Your wife does," said Trey Peterson, a financial adviser at Principal Preservation Services in the Twin Cities. "Whether you're single or married, you end up taking some time off work. Women typically work 12 years less over their career than men do.”

Also, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women make about 83 cents on the dollar compared to men.

Not to mention, women tend to live eight to 10 years longer than their spouses, according to an article in Daily Finance.

All right, that's the why. Here's the how-to-start-making-it-better part.

Peterson says start by saving, like, right now. And this is advice for anyone.

“My recommendation, find out how much your employer matches your contributions to a 401K," he said. "If you have nothing, both of you should start with a Roth IRA account, tax-free money that continues to grow tax free."

Next, push forward by negotiating your salary, something a lot of research shows women do less often than men.

“Would you rather have a moment of being uncomfortable, if that moment could have a six-figure difference over your career?" Peterson said. "The same study showed if you get a $3,000 raise because you asked for it, the next time you get a raise, it compounds."

Third, learn to say no.

Peterson said he had a client who inherited $1.3 million, but spent half of it it very quickly on other people.

“After a year and a half, the $1.3 million that she had was down to $650,000," said Peterson. "She went through half that money in a year and a half, and she didn't spend any of it on herself. It was helping her kids. It was helping her family members. And I had to eventually say to her, ‘You are not going to be OK unless you start telling people no.’ And what I told her is if someone asks for money tell them to see her adviser."

The last piece of advice is to take an inventory of where you are right now in retirement planning.

“You've got social security, IRAs, you have Roths, you have 401Ks, you have savings and checking," Petereson said. "Take an inventory of how everything looks, making sure that you and your spouse know where everything is at.”
 

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