This New Report About Retirement Savings Should Be a Wake-Up Call for Women

Saving for retirement
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Attention, ladies: How does your retirement savings look?

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

I get it: You’re afraid to admit your savings isn’t as robust as it probably should be.

A new report illustrates this problem for American women, but not with the goal of making us all feel bad.

It’s a motivator for better saving and planning.

Transamerica’s new report “Seventeen Facts About Women’s Retirement Outlook” pulls information from the nonprofit’s annual Retirement Survey of Workers that had more than 4,000 respondents.

The group released the bonus report on March 1 to correspond with National Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day on March 8.

Because nothing says, “I’m every woman,” quite like, “Not every woman is doing a good job preparing for retirement.”

Ladies, Why Haven’t You Gotten Your Retirement Savings in Formation?

First, the alarming stats:

Only 10% of women surveyed admitted they’re “very confident” in “their ability to fully retire with a comfortable lifestyle.”

Meanwhile, 19% of men reported being very confident, because, men. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

In addition, 64% of women don’t have a backup plan if they have to retire sooner than they planned. Men aren’t good at this either: 57% reported not having a backup plan.

The estimated median for women’s total household retirement savings is a paltry $34,000, compared to $115,000 for men.

Meanwhile, the women surveyed have an estimated median $2,000 in the bank for emergencies, compared to the estimated median of $10,000 in men’s accounts.

Ladies, I don’t really understand that one as I have been telling you (pointed glare) to bump up your savings game for a while now. If it’s just moths and dust bunnies in your emergency fund, we have a guide for getting it in shape.

If You Have to Cry, Go Outside

Put away your Kleenex. There’s good news in this report, too.

It turns out 72% of women are saving for retirement through a workplace plan or outside of work, and started doing so at a median age of 28. Men started a hair earlier, at median age 26.   

Good work, everyone.

Of those women who can, 75% of women participate in a retirement plan through work, and contribute a median 6% of their salary. Men contribute a median 10%.

Transamerica’s report isn’t meant to scare us. It’s a wake-up call to remind women it’s never too early or late to start saving for retirement, even if it’s just a few dollars each week.

“Save as much as you can, knowing that both small and large amounts add up over time,” Transamerica Institute president Catherine Collinson advises in the report.

What to Do Today for a Better Retirement Eventually

If you aren’t saving for retirement, start ASAP. 

Not sure how to start? The U.S. Treasury offers the myRA account, which you can think of as a starter retirement account before upgrading to a Roth IRA.

If you are saving (good for you!), take a few minutes to check your progress. Are you saving enough for your anticipated needs? Are you satisfied with your contribution through a work 401(k)? Have you automated your savings to an IRA?

Another strategy for women: Prepare yourself for the likelihood that retirement may not happen until you’re well past 65.

“Maintain your ability to continue working past age 65. Keep your job skills up to date or learn new ones,” Collinson writes. “Many employers, community colleges and nonprofits offer classes in the latest technologies and careers. Networking groups offer opportunities to meet more people in particular professions.”

By taking care of your career, it seems, you may have a better chance of taking care of yourself comfortably when it’s (finally) time to retire.

Your Turn: Are you saving enough for retirement? Ladies, what’s your reaction to this new report?

Lisa Rowan is a writer and producer at The Penny Hoarder.