A woman's retirement reality -- what she really must know

By Steven Delaney

American Annuity Advocates


Note: This article is directed towards customers, and explains what women can do to empower themselves to ensure a retirement lifestyle they can enjoy. It is intended to help producers stay ahead of the curve and offer timely guidance to female clients.

Sure, a life of leisure filled with family and friends, shopping and travel, is preferable to being left financially stranded in retirement, but it requires proper planning. You will see that even when accustomed to a high level of income, and/or a high standard of living, many women are eventually left to fend for themselves.

Consider this piece to be a financial re-orientation for women relative to their ability to retire. This article will discuss what she knows to be true, as well as what she can do to empower herself to ensure a retirement lifestyle she can enjoy.

This short story, as told by Dr. Babbel, Fellow, Wharton Financial Institutions Center, and Professor of Insurance and Finance, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, is based in part on the policy brief, "Personal Finance, Lifetime Income for Women: A Financial Economist's Perspective." I believe this should be viewed as required reading for all women, and those who love them.

Regardless of your marital status, you, your spouse, your partner, or your significant other, should embrace a strategy today to ensure a safe plan for retirement.

Unfortunately, what you are about to read happens far too often and, as a woman, you owe it to yourself to invest a few minutes of your time, and learn what you can do to ensure that this all-too-typical story doesn't happen to you. I am willing to bet that this story can change everything for you. You deserve a much happier retirement than that portrayed in this story, and you have the ability to make better decisions, jointly or alone -- and place yourself on a course towards a safe plan for retirement.

In our brief story, Dr. Babbel wants you to know that he speaks from both personal experience and statistical realities. Women really do face greater retirement challenges than they may know, and are in danger of living out their retirement years unprepared -- these are facts. Without proper planning, women may find themselves as members of the working poor, or even worse. In order to prevent such dire circumstances, men and women must change their planning strategies before it is too late. My hope is that you may be enlightened by taking to heart the real-life economic outcomes discussed in the story.

The upside here of course, is that you don't have to end up like the women in our story. As you are already well aware, women and men are different in terms of money. They make different decisions for different reasons, and women usually outlive their husbands and often end up facing the world alone, without ample retirement savings or income. On a regular basis, women are forced to endure the effects of bad financial decisions made years ago, and many times, those decisions were made by a spouse.

Everyone has different expectations of retirement, meaning there will be various levels of "hoped for" comfort. These expectations are not necessarily based upon a couple's level of education, or whether or not they had a career with higher or above average income. Keep in mind that folks who make more money may tend to spend more, and may take on more financial risk. Thus, they find themselves or leave their spouse, in even worse shape. They end up with greater debt and greater monthly maintenance costs than those who earned less and lived more moderately. Often, it is presumed that others are in better shape, but; a) it doesn't matter, b) they probably are not, and c) you must take care of yourself anyway, especially since men often die before women do.

What should you do? After reading this brief story --and getting a dose of retirement realities pertaining specifically to women -- take action and get organized in an effort to get a snapshot of your current financial position. After that, you can assess your needs and wants, and your ability to live with the ups and downs of the stock market with a financial advisor you trust.

Take the time to find out what you need to do to reposition assets, ensuring that your retirement income needs are met. Make an appointment, review your situation together, and view an income plan analysis to see where things stand for you.

You will learn that there is something that can be done to secure your future. Women and men alike have only one shot at astute preparation and execution of a safe plan for retirement.

Click here to download the study "The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, the Policy Brief of Personal Finance, Lifetime Income for Women: A Financial Economist's Perspective"