A Moneyweave article, “Women’s History Month: The Paradox of Women & Money” offers statistics about the finances of women in the United States. Over time, women in the country have made strides in education, in pay (although women still likely earn less than men), and in expected life span. This all sounds great so is there really a problem? Yes: part of the paradox is that “While women today control about half the country’s privately held assets, nearly three in four Americans living in poverty are female.”
Women earn less, live longer, are more likely to have a chronic health condition, and also tend to be less financially literate than their male counterparts. Women are also more likely to both be caregivers throughout their lives and need to receive care as they age. Women who are caregivers for their families may sacrifice potential earnings; women who work as caregivers are often not paid well. Overall, nearly 3/4 of older Americans who are poor are women.
The article mentions that there are a lot of studies done to talk about the wealth gap between men and women; what it implies is that while the problem is being recognized, the studies do little to change the reality that many women end up in poverty because of the way our society functions.
The article makes it clear that many financial advisors are not even aware of these issues and that those who are aware may not want to discuss this with clients: “Without good planning and far too often, women unintentionally assume financial risk. Risk mitigation begins with awareness.”
You need to make sure that you have a Fee-Only financial advisor who is willing to address these issues. Talk to your friends and loved ones, ask them what kind of plans they have in place for retirement since financial planning can help women avoid poverty. Perhaps none of you want to have an in-depth conversation about this. That is okay because change begins with awareness. Just checking it with the women in your life to see if they are even aware of their financial outlook for retirement is a start.