5 Reasons Women Fear Retirement

posted on 06-07-2019

A new study by Ameriprise Financial puts the differences between how men and women worry about retirement under the microscope.

In the New Retirement Mindscape City Pulse index, the firm finds even though men are 5% more likely to be planning for retirement, women are the ones stressing the most about having a nest egg large enough to sustain them in their golden years. 

According to Bill Losey, a certified retirement coach and author of Retire in a Weekend, there are a handful of factors pushing women to the edge about retirement planning.

"There's so much information and so many different opinions, that I think women at this point really don't know who to trust," he says. 

[InvestingAnswers Feature: 4 Tips to Finding the Perfect Retirement Formula]

Here are five things making women nervous about retirement:

1. Fear they'll outlive their money 

This is less about crunching numbers and more about pure biology. Women typically have longer lifespans than men, meaning they'll need to spread out their savings over a longer period in retirement, Losey says. (See how to stop getting ripped off by your retirement plan.

2. Failing health

In a poll of 5,000 baby boomers, Losey said women overwhelmingly cited fears about possible health complications that could take a fair chunk out of their retirement savings. Ameriprise's study backs up his results, finding more than half of women said they're planning on keeping healthy in retirement and are more likely to say healthcare options and facilities a big factor choosing where they'll retire. 

[InvestingAnswers Feature: How Our Aging Brain Affects Our Financial Decisions]

To ease fears, Losey recommends investing in a long-term care insurance plan, especially given the way medical costs are soaring these days. Most purchase long-term plans in their 50s, he says, but they only get more expensive as you age. 

#-ad_banner_2-#3. Keeping up with inflation

You'll need a crystal ball if you want to predict what the Consumer Price Index will look like thirty years from now, but one area where ladies could be stepping up their game is at the investment table.

Only 46% of women said they've been setting aside money for stocks or IRAs, according to Ameripise, but a keeping a diversified investment portfolio with 30 to 40% of your investments in the stock market is one way to protect your savings against inflation. "Over time the stock market has been the only asset class that has consistently kept pace with or outpaced inflation," he says. 

4. Distrust in the stock market

This might explain why women are falling behind men in their investments. Losey's survey found women reported fear and lack of faith in the stock market. Once again, the key is a diversified portfolio and trying not to obsess over news headlines. 

"We know stock market volatility is a normal part of the stock market," Losey says. "You want to pay more attention to how you have your money allocated between stocks and bonds. Stocks fluctuate. If you can't stomach that risk, then have less stocks and more bonds." 

5. Paying too much in taxes

Much like inflation, no one can predict what the tax rate will be decades down the road. Losey recommends putting yourself in the best position possible by downsizing or simplifying your home to pay lower taxes or moving to a state with more favorable tax rates. 

You could also think about taking out a Roth IRA, which charges today's tax rate and can be withdrawn from tax-free after retirement. 

"Financial preparation can help instill confidence in reaching your retirement goals – and rightfully so – but thinking about how you’d like to spend your time and where you’re going to live can have a dramatic impact on your overall readiness," says Suzanna de Baca, vice president of wealth strategies at Ameriprise Financial.

Focus on what you can control. The common thread of women's fears surrounding retirement lies in uncertainty for their own and their family's future, Losey says. 

"People get into this mode where they want to control things and the more they try to control things they more stressed they are until they realize things are out of their control," he says. 

In a recent LearnVest study, women said what they really want is sound, unbiased information that doesn't talk down to them, and a financial planner to help them navigate the confusing landscape.

But the real work starts by changing the things you can control today: How much you save, where your investments lie, how you budget, where you live, and how you handle your health

Mandi Woodruff is a reporter for Your Money at Business Insider

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