Women's New Retirement Conversation

Although men and women enter retirement in tandem, women have a very different retirement experience from men

Women enter retirement with less saved due to a lifetime of lower earnings. The average pay for a woman is just seventy-seven cents for every dollar earned by a man, and even less for black and Hispanic women. The Center for American Progress estimates that over the average working woman's 40-year career, this difference may add up to $431,000.


Women also tend to work fewer years in the workforce than men due to childcare, many living as single moms during their wage-earning years. The result is that women have secured fewer promotions. They end their careers with smaller pensions, if they get one, and lesser retirement benefits. This reduces the amount they are able to save for their retirement years. According to a 2014 Aon Hewitt annual retirement survey, women had saved 40% less than men in their 401(k)s — $59,300 for women versus $100,000 for men.


Women also are more likely to leave the workforce as the primary caregivers for elderly parents. Caretaking in this "sandwich" fashion drains their resources of time, money, energy, and opportunity.


When women leave the workforce for childcare and eldercare, it may reduce their Social Security benefits - often the only pension they will receive. Women on average receive one-fourth less than men in Social Security benefits.


Women live longer than men. This is just a simple, actuarial fact. But what it means for women retirees is that their already lessened savings, and purchasing power, are more seriously depleted by inflation each year of their lives.


Because women live longer than men, they often out-live their spouses. Unlike men, who are statistically more likely to remarry after the loss of a spouse through death or divorce, women are more likely to live alone, and therefore have higher per capita household expenses.


In short, women live longer, with fewer resources, and are more likely to be financially challenged in retirement, especially in their later years.


Women need to take a new and different approach to retirement planning.


  1. Women need to create Stackable Income Streams to Empower Retirement Security (SISTERS). Women need to create enough stackable income streams to meet their retirement spending needs. Some income streams may disappear, such as alimony or a primary earner's income. The more reliable income streams women can "stack" up, the more secure their retirement will be. These might include income from:


    •Part-time jobs
    •Social Security


  3. Women should consider non-traditional residence sharing, such as renting out empty bedrooms, getting a roommate and downsizing if necessary, and using their savings to invest.

  5. Women should consider delaying their retirement start date and working longer. Women are living longer and may need more than they think. Women should also consider working part-time in retirement.

  7. Women should learn how to optimize their Social Security benefits, possibly with spousal benefits.

  9. Women will always need income, so they should create income for life (IFL). Some annuities may provide income that is guaranteed by the insurance company to pay income for life.

  11. Women need to always be earning (ABE). Strategies may include taking income from bonds, dividends from stocks and profits from mutual funds.

  13. Women should monetize their hobbies and develop profitable home-based businesses with the skills, tools and talents they already possess.


Women need to start a new retirement conversation. Women should start talking to each other about retirement planning. How will women thrive in retirement without running out of money?


Women need to start SISTERS Clubs. A SISTERS Club is similar to a book club, but the sole purpose is to discuss how to create Stackable Income Streams to Empower Retirement Security (SISTERS).


What do you need to start a SISTERS club? You need a place to meet, a few friends, a pad of paper and some perseverance. Pick those friends with whom you are compatible, and who share your enthusiasm.


A SISTERS Club creates an environment where women can come together to brainstorm ideas, share their skills and experience, pool their talents, and create income generating investments and business ventures - either individually or as a group — that will provide on-going retirement income. What do an artist, a bookkeeper and a marketing person have in common? The makings of a start-up!


A SISTERS Club is a community of women helping women and helping themselves to improve their retirement planning success.

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