financial planning

Twelve Facts About Women’s Retirement Outlook…and Five Steps to Improve It

Select Findings from the 18th Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey of American Workers

Despite progress, women continue to be at greater risk of not achieving a financially secure retirement than men.

Factors contributing to women’s challenging retirement outlook include women’s annual income continues to lag behind men’s — which leads to lower lifetime earnings, lower lifetime savings, and reduced Social Security benefits. Women are also more likely than men to take time out of the workforce to care for children and/or aging parents; a high percentage of women work part-time and do not have access to workplace retirement benefits; and women have longer life expectancy and, therefore, greater savings needs.

These 12 facts are designed to raise awareness of retirement issues women face:

  1. 71 percent state traveling is their number one goal for retirement.
  2. Only 12 percent of women are “very confident” in their ability to fully retire with a comfortable lifestyle.
  3. 54 percent plan to work after they retire, including 11 percent who plan to work full-time and 43 percent part-time
  4. 64 percent do not have a backup plan for retirement income if forced into retirement sooner than expected.
  5. Paying off debt is a financial priority for almost seven in 10 women (68 percent). Only 51 percent of women cite saving for retirement as a priority.
  6. 73 percent are saving for retirement through a workplace plan and/or outside of work in an IRA, mutual fund, bank account, etc. Women started saving for retirement at age 27 (median).
  7. 81 percent of women are concerned that Social Security won’t be there for them when they are ready to retire.
  8. 66 percent of women are offered a 401(k) or similar employee-funded retirement plan. However, 28 percent work part-time so are less likely to have workplace retirement benefits.
  9. Women believe that they will need to save $500,000 (median) in order to feel financially secure in retirement; among those who estimated their savings needs, 55 percent say they “guessed.”
  10. Women’s total household retirement accounts is $42,000 (estimated median).
  11. Women’s emergency savings is just $2,000 (median).
  12. Only 26 percent of women consider their long-term health when making lifestyle decisions.

(Select Findings from the Here and Now: How Women Can Take Control of Their Retirement Select Findings from the 18th Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey of American Workers, March 2018)

With planning, you can increase your probability of achieving your retirement goals. Here are five specific steps that women can take to greatly enhance a successful retirement:

  1. Start saving for retirement and get into the habit of saving on a regular, consistent basis. Save as much as you can, knowing that both small and large amounts add up and compound over time.
  2. If your employer offers a retirement plan, participate. Be sure that your contribution rate takes full advantage of employer matching contributions, if available.
  3. Develop a Financial Roadmap strategy. Formulate a goal for how much you will need to save each year (be sure to include employer-sponsored retirement plans and outside savings) – and hold yourself accountable for saving.
  4. Maintain your ability to continue working past age 65. Keep your job skills up to date or learn new ones.
  5. Take care of yourself and safeguard your health. Make a habit of eating healthfully, exercising regularly, getting plenty of rest, and managing stress. Be sure to get routine physicals and recommended health screenings. Seek medical attention when needed.

To arrange a complimentary Financial Roadmap meeting and retirement analysis, schedule an appointment at

About the survey.  The survey was conducted online in the U.S. by The Harris Poll on behalf of Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies (TCRS) between August 9 and October 28, 2017 among a nationally representative sample of 6,372 workers including 3,917 women. Potential respondents were targeted based on employment status and company size. Respondents met the following criteria: U.S. residents, age 18 or older, full- or part-time workers in for-profit companies, and employer size of 5 or more. Results were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with the population of U.S. residents age 18+, employed full-time or part-time in a for-profit company with 5+ employees, and to adjust for attitudinal and behavioral differences between those who are online versus those who are not, those who join online panels versus those who do not, and those who responded to this survey versus those who did not. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.