Career opportunities for women have expanded greatly over the last couple of decades. Yet during their lifetimes, women still earn less money than men, primarily because they take time off from their jobs to care for children or aging parents.
Women also have longer lifespans than men, so they may need to fund additional years in retirement with fewer financial resources. One study found that the average retirement savings for a woman aged 65 to 69 was about 22% less than that of a man of the same age.
Given the challenges, it’s understandable that women are 42% more likely than men to express concern about having enough money for retirement (according to a 2012 survey). Focusing on saving for the future and managing retirement plan investments wisely could help many women improve their retirement prospects.
Almost 60% of today’s U.S. college students are women, and the majority of graduates who pursue master’s degrees and doctorates are also women. Income disparity between the sexes has also improved — working women now earn about 80 cents for every dollar earned by men, up from 62 cents 30 years ago. As a result, female breadwinners have become more common than they were in previous generations. Around 40% of wives now earn higher salaries than their husbands.5
To make up for time spent outside the workforce, women may want to contribute as much as possible to employer-sponsored retirement plans, especially if they have the opportunity to benefit from a company match. The maximum employee contribution to a 401(k) or 403(b) plan in 2013 is $17,500 ($23,000 for those aged 50 and older).
Distributions from most employer-sponsored retirement plans are taxed as ordinary income. Withdrawals taken prior to age 59½ may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty, with certain exceptions such as the plan participant’s death or disability.
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- Curtis Willardson, CFP, CLU, Daniel O Palmer, and Stephen Martin CFP, CLU, ChFC are registered representatives offering securities and advisory services offered through Cetera Advisor Networks LLC, member FINRA/SIPC. David Palmer is a registered representative offering securities through Cetera Advisor Networks LLC, member FINRA/SIPC. Cetera is under separate ownership from any other named entity. Registered address: 188 W River Park Drive, Provo, UT 84604.
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