Women Face Financial Challenges Despite Workplace Success


NEW YORK (MainStreet) — About 66% of women have either primary or shared financial decision-making responsibility with their partners, according to a recent study by LPL Financial. But even as women earn more and gain power in the workplace, many still fear becoming a bag lady in their old age.

"Society is beginning to realize the severity of the challenges women face in achieving long-term financial security but they are still so significant that women have to do even more in order to overcome them," said Liz Davidson, CEO and founder of Financial Finesse.

Women still lag behind significantly when it comes to saving and investing.

"Because women tend to be more conservative investors, they may not be generating enough income to last throughout retirement and they may not even be keeping up with the rate of inflation," said Peg Webb, a financial advisor with Wealth Enhancement Group in Plymouth, Minn. "The main danger here is outliving your income stream and not being able to maintain the quality of life you desire in retirement."

Also See: What Men - And Companies - Can Do to Please Women

Some 62% of men compared to only 47% of women who have an emergency fund, according to a recent Financial Finesse study./p>

"The greatest challenge facing women is a lack of interest in investing because it is sometimes perceived as a hobby," Webb told MainStreet. "Investing is not a hobby. Your livelihood very likely depends upon it."

Part of the problem is that women with college degrees make on average $1.2 million less than a man during her career.

"Women today need to have the confidence that their contributions matter and they need to be diligent about communicating their impact," Webb said.

Regardless of gender, people between the ages of 30 to 49 are more likely than any other age group to have no emergency savings, according to a new Bankrate study. Even among the highest-income households with annual income of $75,000 or above, only 46% currently have a six-month savings cushion. "Americans continue to show a stunning lack of progress in accumulating sufficient emergency savings," said Greg McBride, chief financial analyst with Bankrate.

Surprisingly, 18- to 30-year-olds are the most likely to have up to five months' expenses saved up. In addition to earning less money than men on average, women have fewer years in the workforce, lower Social Security payouts in retirement and outlive men by an average of five to seven years.

"This means that at some point in most women's lives they will have sole responsibility for the household finances," said Diane Winland, resident financial planner with Financial Finesse. "That's what makes the gender gap in investing knowledge we're seeing so alarming because investing has a direct impact on their retirement preparedness."

While 90% of all women will be solely responsible for their finances at some point in time, 20% of divorced women aged 65 or older live in poverty, according to recent data from the Social Security Administration.

"The key to being prepared is to pinpoint financial goals, protect savings, determine how much is needed for retirement and building savings," Webb said.

--Written by Juliette Fairley for MainStreet

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