We know that in general men make more than women. We also know that in most cases, if a couple marries and one spouse chooses to stay at home with the kids, more often than not that spouse is the wife. If the wife eventually returns to work, chances are her pay is going to reflect the number of years she worked and not the number of years she worked and then took off – meaning her pay, of course, will be much less than it could have been had she remained in the workforce.
In addition, while mom was working from the home, chances are she wasn’t socking away tons of money for retirement. In fact, retirement may have been the farthest thing from her mind during that time. After all, we are busy caring for our children, our homes and our spouses. We are thinking about kindergarten and middle school, not the golden years.
Ah, but we should be. The facts alone are rather frightening:
- Women live longer than men
- Women make less than men
- On average, women in the US work 12 years less for pay than do men
So what does that all mean when you add it up? According to this article, women are not really considering these facts, which in turn means that when retirement comes, the money that should be flowing – or at least trickling – into our pocketbooks is nowhere to be seen.
So what can we do about it?
First, we must save. How much are you saving each month? I’ll be frank with you: I have not been saving anything. Sure, I keep a little in my business account, but this is mainly to cover costs that I know will arise, for equipment, licensing, advancing, training, and the like. The rest of the money goes back into my family: for trips, for necessities, and sometimes for fun things that I want, like a new shirt or a pair of running shoes.
Secondly, we must prepare. What is in your retirement savings plan folder? Again, in mine: Nothing. I have no idea what amount of money I will have when I retire (well, nothing if I keep going at this rate). I don’t know what I should be saving each month or the best way to go about this. I have been living in pleasant oblivion for a while.
Thirdly, we must be honest. It’s a fact: Women on average liver longer than men. It’s a fact: Couples divorce. It’s a fact: You may find yourself alone at the time of retirement, whether that concept seems real to you right now or not. If we are not honest with ourselves about this fact, it’s likely we will continue to live with our head in the financial sand.
So, working mothers, I believe our next challenge should be this: To begin to look at our finances and understand what it is we will be facing when we retire in 10, 20 or 30 years, and figure out today how we can best prepare for that.
If you have some great tips for how we can best prepare for retirement, so that our wallets don’t wind up empty when that day comes, please share! In the meantime, I will do my best to find some sources for you to read about this subject, so that you can locate references as you make your financial plan for the future. The article I referenced above offers some great tips, and is a good place to start.