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Do Men or Women Have More Retirement Savings?

Although equally important for men and women, retirement planning is often seen differently by the two genders. A lot of statistics point toward the lack of retirement savings among women. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), 50% of women between the ages of 55 and 66 years have no personal retirement savings, compared to 47% of men. Only 22% of women have $100,000 or higher in personal retirement savings compared to 30% of men. It is also now widely known and acknowledged that women earn less than men. The lack of savings may be because of women’s lower earnings. However, retirement planning in women can also be impacted by other factors like marriage, education, profession, parenthood, etc.

If you’re looking to grow your retirement savings, a financial advisor can help assess your financial situation and suggest suitable recommendation to grow and manage your finances. This article also delves into the differences between men and women when it comes to retirement planning.

How do retirement savings differ for women?

Retirement savings can differ by gender, and women usually tend to have the following:

1. Longer life expectancies

On average, women tend to live longer than men, meaning they must plan for a longer retirement period. This longer retirement period requires more savings, as they will need to support themselves for a more extended period of time. Women must consider factors such as inflation, healthcare costs, and long-term care. They also need to factor in any income sources, such as Social Security benefits or pensions, to determine whether they will be sufficient to meet their retirement needs.

2. More risk-averse investment attitudes

Women tend to be more risk-averse than men and may be more likely to choose conservative investments. While this can help  protect their savings, it may also mean that they miss out on potential returns that could help their savings grow over time. Gender stereotypes play a huge role here. Women are often taught to be more cautious and avoid risks from a young age, while men may be encouraged to take risks and be more adventurous. These gender stereotypes can influence investment decisions later in life. Women may have a longer-term perspective when it comes to investing. They may focus more on preserving their wealth and building a secure financial future rather than taking on high-risk investments that could result in potential losses.

3. Lower earnings

On average, women tend to earn less than men over their lifetime, which can result in lower savings, Social Security benefits, and less disposable income. The pay gap is prevalent in most industries and professions. Women earn less and may be less likely to climb the ladder and be promoted to high-paying positions. This can impact their attitude and confidence, pushing them towards being savers but not investors. As explained above, this creates a ripple effect in how they invest money. With lower income and conservative investment approaches, women may create smaller retirement pools than men.

4. More time out of the workforce

Women are more likely to quit their education and careers for their children or elderly family members, which can result in fewer years of contributions to retirement savings plans. In most cases, mothers quit their jobs or leave their degrees mid-way to focus on their families. This may result in no income or less income over the years. Women may also suffer from physical and mental health concerns due to pregnancy and childbirth, affecting their ability to earn and save money.

5. Varying attitudes towards financial planning

Men and women may have different attitudes towards financial planning, with men more likely to take the lead and women more likely to depend on their partner or a financial advisor. While hiring a financial advisor can be beneficial, women may not always gain when they rely entirely on the men in their families for financial advice.

How does marriage impact retirement savings in men and women?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), marriage can impact retirement planning to some extent. The survey found that only 35% of married couples have no retirement savings. This is relatively low compared to 60% of people who never marry and 40% of people who were married once. The survey also found that married people are more likely to have at least $100,000 or more in retirement savings compared to people who have never been married.

Marriage can positively and negatively impact retirement savings for both men and women. Here are some of the ways marriage can affect retirement savings:

1. Shared expenses

Married couples can often share expenses, which can lead to savings on housing, utilities, children’s education, and other costs. This can free up more money for retirement savings for both spouses. However, this may be true only for couples where both partners work and contribute to household expenses. Marriages, where only one spouse earns, may experience relatively more financial strain as the responsibility to earn and save is on one person alone.

2. Dual income

If both spouses work, they can contribute to retirement savings plans such as 401(k)s, Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), and other investment vehicles. This can increase the amount of retirement savings for the couple. This also brings more peace of mind for the couple, possibly leading to fewer health concerns and more savings.

3. Pension benefits

Married couples may be eligible for spousal benefits from pension plans and Social Security, which can provide additional retirement income. This can ensure financial security for both spouses.

4. Caregiving responsibilities

If one spouse has caregiving responsibilities for children or elderly parents, they may need to take time off or reduce their work hours, impacting their ability to contribute to retirement savings. In this case, the financial load again comes on to one partner.

5. Divorce

Divorce can have a negative impact on retirement savings, particularly for women. Women are more likely to have lower retirement savings and benefits than men, and divorce can further decrease their retirement security. Divorce may also impact men if they have to pay alimony, which can interfere with their individual financial goals. Moreover, the mental repercussions of divorce can also be severe in men and women, leading to poor financial decisions.

How does having children impact retirement planning in men and women? 

Having children can significantly impact retirement planning for both men and women. Here are a few ways in which it can affect retirement planning for each gender:

1. Career interruptions for women

Women often take time off from their careers to have children and later to care for them. Dropping out of college or work can impact their earnings, retirement savings, and Social Security benefits. This leads to less financial independence, fewer savings, and limited prospects of earning money later in their lives.

2. Increased expenses for men and women

Raising children can be expensive, making it challenging to save for retirement. Additional children's expenses can impact both men and women and push them towards leading a relatively lower standard of living. Expenses like education, clothing, food, housing, etc., all increase when you have children.

3. Caregiving responsibilities for women

Women are more likely than men to be responsible for caregiving, making it challenging to balance work, family, and retirement planning. This impacts their ability to earn money and pay attention to their individual financial needs, as mothers may gravitate towards putting the well-being of their children first.

4. Reduced savings for men and women

Men and women may need to reduce their retirement savings to pay for expenses related to having children and save less for their retirement. Often, couples use their IRA funds and other investment returns to fund higher education or co-sign loans with their children and are burdened with paying the high-interest payments in retirement. This can negatively affect their lifestyle in retirement. 



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What is the ideal average retirement savings by age? 

The ideal average retirement savings by age can differ based on several factors, including your lifestyle, retirement goals, and where you live. There is no specific rule or figure for what percentage of income should go to retirement that can apply to all people. However, here are some general guidelines that can help you set your targets:

  • You can have at least $10,500 in your 401k account balance between the ages of 20 and 29 and contribute 7% of your income to your account.
  • You can have at least $38,400 in your 401k account balance between the ages of 30 and 39 and contribute 8% of your income to your account.
  • You can have at least $93,400 in your 401k account balance between the ages of 40 and 49 and contribute 8% of your income to your account.
  • You can have at least $160,000 in your 401k account balance between the ages of 50 and 59 and contribute 10% of your income to your account.
  • You can have at least $182,100 in your 401k account balance between the ages of 60 and 69 and contribute 11% of your income to your account.
  • You can have at least $171,400 in your 401k account balance between the ages of 70 and 79 and contribute 12% of your income to your account.


Here are some savings goals to keep in mind with regards to your annual salary:

  • By the time you turn 30, you should aim to have saved an amount equivalent to your annual salary.
  • By age 40, the ideal amount is three times your annual salary.
  • By age 50, the goal should be to have six times your salary saved.
  • By age 60, it is recommended to have eight times your salary saved.
  • By age 67, your target should be accumulated retirement savings equal to ten times your current annual salary.


What can men and women do to enhance their retirement savings?

Retirement planning is essential for men and women in equal measure. Here are some ways you can enhance your retirement savings:

1. Start saving as early as possible

The earlier you start saving and investing for retirement, the more time and opportunities your money has to grow. Even small contributions made early on can compound over time and make a significant difference. This includes contributing to retirement accounts like a 401(k), IRA, etc. These accounts offer tax advantages and can help your savings grow faster. They also provide employer-matching contributions that can boost your retirement savings considerably.

2. Increase contributions over time

As your income grows, it is essential to increase your retirement contributions too. You increase your savings rate with age and as you move up the ladder in your career. It is also necessary to make catch-up contributions if you are over 50 to accounts like the 401(k) and the IRA.

3. Consider working longer or getting back to work after sabbaticals

Working longer can increase your retirement savings and reduce your retirement when you will be dependent on your retirement savings. Men and women can work longer. If either of the two is taking sabbaticals to focus on their families and children, they can eventually return to work, whether part-time or full-time. Women can explore work-from-home opportunities to prioritize their work and families.

4. Get professional advice

Consider seeking advice from a financial advisor or retirement planner to develop a retirement savings strategy tailored to your needs and goals. This is essential for everyone, irrespective of gender, age, or marital status. 

To conclude

It is important for all individuals to balance their personal and professional lives to ensure they stay on track to meeting their retirement goals, while also not compromising on their familial responsibilities. One may have to adjust their retirement goals along the way to reflect the added financial responsibilities of sharing their life with a partner, or while raising a child. However, by saving consistently and making informed investment decisions, it is possible to build a strong financial foundation while also balancing other responsibilities. It is advised, as always, to start planning early and to seek advice from a financial advisor to help ensure that your retirement plans always align with your needs.

To hire a suitable financial advisor, consider using the free advisor match service. All you have to do is answer a few simple questions based on your financial needs, and the match tool will help connect you with 1-3 advisors best suited to meet your financial requirements.

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The blog articles on this website are provided for general educational and informational purposes only, and no content included is intended to be used as financial or legal advice.
A professional financial advisor should be consulted prior to making any investment decisions. Each person's financial situation is unique, and your advisor would be able to provide you with the financial information and advice related to your financial situation.