Women more at risk financially in retirement than men

Posted at 7:44 PM, Mar 14, 2017

New findings may be a wake up call for women. When you retire, you have a much higher risk of financial ruin than men.

From the cash register to catering Denise Wightman has a game plan for getting her job done at this Denver café. But her strategy when it comes to her retirement?

"To be honest none," Wightman says. "My plan is to be married still to my husband." 

Wightman is like many women who's husbands handle their financial future.

"It makes me feel uncomfortable because if anything happened I'm not sure where I would stand," Wightman says. "I don't know what I'm entitled to. I don't know what share of my husband's pension I would be entitled to. I have no idea about the figures." 

Experts say Wightman and women like her need to take control of their finances now more than ever. A recent survey found retiring women are at greater risk for financial collapse than men.

A big factor is higher medical costs. 70 percent of nursing home residents are women according to AARP. And when it comes to out of pocket health costs, retired women pay about $600 more a year than men.

Another factor? Lower wages. Women earn 79 cents to the dollar compared to men, meaning women generally have less money to pay for long term health care. Women also spend more time out of the workforce to care for children or aging parents.

"I gave up my career to have my children and so that automatically put me into a position where I wasn't going to be able to contribute as much to pension as if I had carried on with my career," Wightman says.

So what can you do? Experts say focus on your health, everything from preventative care to working out.

Also, experts say find a financial adviser who understands your specific financial needs.

And from experience, Wightman offers this advice.

"I would say try and invest, try and save some money if you can you know?" Whitman says. "And educate yourself. And I'm saying that having not done that myself."

Another factor for the discrepancy between men and women in retirement is women are living longer than men.

A 65-year-old woman can expect to live to be nearly 87 years old, compared to an average male lifespan of about 84 years.