Jump-Starting Savings for Women

Cait Klein
  • Posted on 6/16/2015
Of the 62 million women between 21 and 64 in the workforce, only 45% participate in a retirement plan. Since women outlive men by at least two years, on average, an even bigger nest egg would be recommended.
We’re approaching the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment’s passage and ratification, guaranteeing American women the right to vote. Yet in many ways there’s still much work to be done – particularly when it comes to personal finances. Women earn just 77 cents to every dollar earned by men. This shortcoming in earnings hamstrings the ability to save for some women.

Of the 62 million women between 21 and 64 in the workforce, only 45% participate in a retirement plan. Since women outlive men by at least two years, on average, an even bigger nest egg would be recommended. Here’s a primer on how to take control of your financial future.

Top 3 accounts to have

Marriage is not a good retirement plan, particularly with the national divorce rate hovering around 50%. It’s important for women of all ages to take charge with three critical types of accounts.

Retirement. Fund your own 401(k) if your employer offers one, or if it doesn’t or you’re self-employed or don’t work outside the home, start an individual retirement account, or IRA, at a financial institution like Consumers Credit Union. Aim to build a nest egg of 80% of your annual pre-retirement living expenses multiplied by 20. (The average number of years a woman lives in retirement.) If that number seems unattainable, reconsider what the last third of your working life may look like, such as more saving and less beach time. Having a retirement fund is key to getting on the right track for saving and may have the added benefit of reducing the taxes you pay.

Emergency savings. Misfortune is unpredictable. Medical emergencies, job loss, a roof leak, whatever the event, make sure you’re prepared financially. A good rule of thumb is to maintain three to six months’ worth of living expenses in an emergency savings account. This will let your money grow steadily but keeps it immediately accessible if you need it.

Saving for goals. Finally, consider your own personal goals. Whether saving for education, for an exotic trip or for a future family, make sure you’re building toward that dream with savings. Set a target for yourself, even if it’s small. And be sure to reward yourself, within reason, when you reach a goal.

Additional resources

The federal government has developed many programs to encourage financial awareness among women. One example is the Wi$eUp program, designed specifically for younger women. You may also want to consider going through a Savings Fitness program, available online.

Planning for retirement should be in every woman’s repertoire of skills. By getting your own plan up and running now, your goal of taking control where your future finances are concerned can be within reach.

Cait Klein, NerdWallet