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Retirement for Women – Get Out Ahead

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There are a lot of areas where women are making waves in the fight for equality and acceptance. But one area women still seem to be slacking is in the arena of planning for retirement.

According to a Wells Fargo Retirement Fitness Survey released in December, 2010, Americans have less than seven percent of their required retirement funds saved away by the time they need it.

Whether women rely too much on their male counterparts for retirement savings or they just don’t know how to properly put money away for retirement, somewhere there is a clear disconnect.

A major issue for couples trying to save money is their lack of understanding what effect widowhood plays on the other. Anna Rappaport, co-author and researcher on a study from the Society of Actuaries on the Impact of Retirement Risk on Women, noted that 85 percent of women over age 85 are widows, compared to 45 percent of men.

Unless a couple has a substantial fortune, when one spouse dies and doesn’t leave the necessary transitionary money (cost for funeral, medical bills, etc.), it can really take its toll on the living spouse. Often, that living spouse is the woman.

Because women have longer life expectancies and often marry men several years older than themselves, it is not uncommon for women to have periods of widowhood of 15 years or longer. For many, the death of a spouse is accompanied by a decline in their standard of living.

While better planning for retirement is not solely a woman’s issue or something women need to improve on, the special set of circumstances women face do make it particularly challenging for women.

Another trend occurring more and more is that women don’t participate in keeping the family finances and thus, have no clue how much savings the couple has or how to further those savings when that time comes. Financial advisors are having to help women with damage control over their finances because once the male spouse passes, most women have no clue aboutthe state of their funds and often, the funds are dwindling fast.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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