4 Ways Women Can Improve Their Retirement Security

Numerous studies have shown that women earn less than their male peers, and this pay gap is exacerbated by the fact that women take more-frequent career breaks than men to raise children or care for other family members.

Over a 30- or 40-year career, this can lead to women having thousands — if not hundreds of thousands — less in retirement savings than men do. A recent study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute found that women, on average, had about 40 percent less in their individual retirement accounts than men.

This “gap” in retirement savings can lead to some long-term wealth-planning issues. Women may not have enough savings to last the span of their retirement. Even for women with a high-earning spouse, a lack of retirement savings can present some financial planning concerns.

Here are four ways women can bolster their retirement savings and improve their long-term financial security.

  • Save a higher percentage of income. Doing this can help women compensate for any short- or long-term absences from the workforce. For example, someone would need to save about $1,000 a month over 30 years to reach a $1 million savings goal. To reach that same $1 million goal in just 20 years, she would need to save about $2,200 per month.1
  • Design a portfolio for growth. Women — particularly younger women — want to ensure that their retirement savings are invested aggressively enough to promote savings growth over time. While investing conservatively may seem safer, the bulk of a portfolio’s growth often comes from growth-oriented investments, such as stocks. Over the last 70 years, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Stock Index had a compound annual growth rate of nearly 11 percent, while 10-year Treasury bonds returned approximately 5.6 percent.2 However, women will want to consider their personal risk tolerance into account when balancing the types of investments to ensure their portfolio is appropriately diversified.
  • Get a raise. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that women earned about 82 cents for every dollar earned by men in 2016.3 Women can try to bolster their income and, in turn, their savings, by getting a raise or a higher-pay job. 
  • Plan your retirement income strategy. Evaluating how income will be generated in retirement can help women determine how much retirement savings is needed, based on their expected expenses and lifestyle goals. Married couples in which a wife has dramatically less in retirement savings than her spouse will want to ensure that she is financially protected throughout her lifetime. They should determine the best time to claim Social Security retirement benefits in order to maximize the benefit amount. Additionally, life insurance and annuities can be used to create a guaranteed income over the course of retirement and protect the financial security of both spouses.

Talk to your Regions Wealth Advisor on how you can determine your retirement savings needs and evaluate ways to improve your long-term financial security.

  1. Save For Retirement Calculator on Regions.com (The calculation assumes investor earns a 6 percent annual return on investment.) 
  2. Sources: Moneychimp CAGR calculator (http://www.moneychimp.com/features/market_cagr.htm); DQYDJ.com calculator (https://dqydj.com/treasury-return-calculator/).
  3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey,” BLS.gov.

This information is general in nature and is provided for educational purposes only. Information provided and statements made by employees of Regions should not be relied on or interpreted as accounting, financial planning, investment, legal, or tax advice. Regions encourages you to consult a professional for advice applicable to your specific situation. Information provided and statements made by individuals who are not employees of Regions are the views, opinions, or positions of the individual who made the statement and do not necessarily reflect the policies, views, opinions, and positions of Regions. Regions makes no representations as to the accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability, or validity of any information presented.