My mother has no idea how much money she has available for her retirement, and she'd prefer to remain ignorant.
She's apparently not the only wife out there who prefers to avoid discussing finances. State Farm recently released findings of a national survey revealing that while 74 percent of American women feel anxious about their retirement and financial futures due to the recent economic decline, only 15 percent have made major changes to their financial plans.
More than two in five (41 percent) of survey participants admitted that going to the dentist is less excruciating than talking to their spouses about their daily finances. "The State Farm survey indicates that women are more aware of their retirement needs, however, too many of them are not taking the necessary actions to secure their financial futures," said Susan Waring, executive vice president and chief administrative officer of State Farm Life Insurance Company.
Women tend to make less than men through their lifetimes, which means they usually save less for retirement than men, Business Week reported in August. In a 2008 survey of more than 1,300 workers or retirees over age 25 by nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) and Matthew Greenwald & Associates, 68% of women and 76% of men said that they "had" saved for retirement.
Vanguard, a mutual fund company that also manages retirement plans, reported that in 2007 the average account balance of more than three million participants in their 401(k) plans was $56,723 for women, compared with $95,447 for men. More recently, Hewitt Associates consultants surveyed nearly 2 million participants in large-company 401(k) plans the company manages and found that women had an average of $56,320 in their accounts, compared with over $100,000 for men.
State Farm advises women to act now and take the following steps to ensure their financial profiles are ready for the unexpected:
* Review credit cards and checking accounts to assess all purchases,large and small, and tally where money is spent. Then, prioritize to identify where to cut expenses.
* Calculate monthly expenses and make sure to have enough money insavings to cover at least three months of costs.
* Seek financial advice from an expert to ensure financial plans are secure.