Women and Retirement; Fear Becomes Action

On a scale of one to ten, how high would you rate your retirement angst? If you are a woman, you’re likely to rate your worry higher than men rate theirs, according to this new study by MIT AgeLab. This begs the question; are women just more inclined to worry, or are their fears justified?

The answer to that question would seem to be the latter.  According to Dr. Joseph Coughlin, a woman is “likely to outlive her male counterpart, remain active longer, and be responsible for caring for him and others.” What Dr. Coughlin seems to be saying is that women aren’t just worried about retirement, what they fear is actually a myriad of issues having to do with finances, health, caretaking, and social concerns, none of which can be separated from the others.

What this means is that there won’t be one simple solution for women to their retirement fears. Any “solution” will have to consist not only of a simple financial solution, but also of a plan to address issues such as:

  • How to make up for a retirement income that is, on average, 58% of men’s.
  • How to adjust if you end up caring for a family member in declining health.
  • How to weather future inflation and changes in health care coverage.
  • And what to do if your spouse passes away.

Women know that fear can be productive and motivate us to find solutions. Hopefully by naming this fear women will be inspired to take action to protect their futures.  Men can take action to help protect their wives and mothers as well.  It’s no exaggeration that women will live longer than men, and are likely to take on the burden of caring for aging family members.  Planning for these eventualities when you’re young, and planning with your spouse and family can ease the burden later on.

If women out-worry men on the subject of retirement, let their planning reflect that.  Nothing eases anxiety like preparation.  Don’t let your fears paralyze you, let them motivate you instead.