Men and women are still different. We didn’t really need to read 1992’s Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus to know that.
But what’s discussed more these days are how those differences (and many other issues) may be even more pronounced in how we prepare for retirement.
TIAA (formerly TIAA-CREF) recently released ts new Voices of Experience Survey, which measures the changing attitudes on life in retirement and how people prepare.
The 44-page report covers a lot, but you might be particularly interested in the section that focuses on women in retirement — or more specifically how men and women differ both in planning for retirement and living in retirement.
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In an earlier column, “On women’s paths to retirement security, there are plenty of hurdles,” I wrote how women face a number of unique challenges before and during retirement. Longer life expectancies, lower average wages and more time out of the workforce due to caregiving for both children and parents can undermine their savings.
Some highlights of the TIAA report:
Men start planning for retirement earlier. Twenty-two percent of men said they began planning before age 30, versus only 12 percent of women.
Men were more likely to be very satisfied with their financial health (58 percent) than women (46 percent).
Women were more likely than men to spend time alone for personal interests (80 percent vs. 70 percent), spend time with family (80 percent vs. 67 percent) and socialize with friends (75 percent vs. 52 percent).
Women were also more likely to volunteer (58 percent vs. 42 percent), care for family members (43 percent vs. 26 percent) and participate in religious activity (36 percent vs. 25 percent).
Although women and men were equally concerned about being a burden to others, women were twice as likely to say that their biggest concern in retirement was running out of money (29 percent vs. 15 percent of men). They were also more concerned about being lonely (19 percent vs. 11 percent).
The report said it is the responsibility of employers and the financial services industry to create new and innovative programs that will give women new confidence in their ability to save for a secure retirement.
Roger W. Ferguson, TIAA CEO, says the full survey looked at how feelings about retirement have evolved over the past 30 years, and a lot has changed. “But nearly all of the retirees we surveyed said they feel satisfied with their life in retirement,” he said. “They are planning better, retiring earlier and able to approach their retirement with excitement and optimism.”
As my Washington Post colleague Jonnelle Marte wrote, one Social Security strategy disappeared last week. As Marte wrote:
“The filing strategy, known as file-and-suspend, could increase lifetime retirement benefits for some high-earning couples by as much as $60,000. The approach allows one spouse - typically the higher earner - to file for benefits and then suspend the payments. That makes it possible for their husband or wife to begin receiving spousal benefits while waiting for their own Social Security benefits to grow as much as possible.”
To learn more, you might look at a New York Times bestselling book on Social Security, Get What’s Yours: The secrets to maxing out your Social Security. An updated edition to reflect the changes came out on May 3.