The sixth annual Transamerica Small Business Retirement Survey
of employed adults shows that women in the United States are less
prepared for retirement than men and face continuing challenges in
planning for a financially secure future.
Despite similar participation rates between men and women in
company-sponsored retirement plans, the survey found that female
workers are less confident that they will be able to retire in a
lifestyle they would consider comfortable and have less money saved
for retirement compared to male workers ($71,800 for female workers
versus $122,700 for male workers).
"Many women are suffering from a confidence crisis. They're much
less likely than men to believe that their personal finances or the
economy will improve in the next twelve months," says Catherine
Collinson, retirement and market trends expert for the Transamerica
Center for Retirement Studies. "More than half of women surveyed
believe that they could work until age 65 and still not have saved
enough for retirement—and if they don't take action, they
may be right."
Women May Be Selling Themselves Short when It Comes to
Though women are less prepared for retirement than men, they
feel just as strongly that a 401(k) plan is an important benefit.
In fact, when asked to choose between excellent retirement benefits
or a higher salary, women were more likely to choose the security
of excellent retirement benefits.
While recognizing the importance of savings, women may not be
taking full advantage of available savings vehicles. Although the
survey results show that employed men and women started saving at
the same age (27 was the median for both) and both participate in
their company retirement plans at similar levels (76 percent of
women and 75 percent of men), women lag behind men in several
- Women report contributing a median of 6 percent of their pay to
their company-sponsored retirement account, compared to 7 percent
- Women report spending just five hours a year monitoring and
managing their retirement accounts, compared to 10 hours for
- Women report lower current retirement savings ($71,800 for
female workers versus $122,700 for male workers). · Women report
not knowing as much as they should about retirement investing (80
percent for female workers versus 67 percent for male
- Despite having increasingly longer life expectancies, women
estimate that they will need to save an average of just $639,000 to
meet their retirement goals—one-third lower than men, who
estimated they would need an average of $941,000.
- Unfortunately, in assessing their needs for retirement, women
may not be taking into consideration the additional challenges they
face when it comes to saving.
"Women statistically live longer than men, are more likely to
take time off from their careers or work part-time, and often earn
less, said Collinson. "These circumstances create added challenges
for women when it comes to saving, planning for retirement and
budgeting for post-retirement expenses."
Small Changes Can Yield Big Results
The good news for women—as well as men—is that
small changes in their savings strategy can make a big difference
in helping to meet retirement savings goals. For example, by saving
an extra $100 a month, a 30-year-old worker could increase the size
of his or her retirement nest egg by over $200,000 at the age of
At the same time, both men and women could benefit from more
careful planning. According to the survey, about one-third (31
percent) of both men and women are guilty of basing their estimates
on guesswork, rather than on a worksheet or calculator (12 percent)
or with the help of an advisor (9 percent).
"Although saving and planning for retirement may seem daunting,
it can be quite empowering," concludes Collinson. "Women have the
ability to positively influence their financial destinies. Timely
actions taken today will ultimately enable women to achieve a more
comfortable and secure retirement."