I've saved more than my husband for retirement at age 40. That's a good thing. According to experts, women shouldn't think like a man when it comes to saving for retirement. They need to think smarter.
A recent Daily Finance article suggests there is a whopping $849,000 gender gap that makes it more challenging for women to have what they need in retirement.
Living a long time
Statistically women live longer than men. If my husband and I are like average couples, I'll outlive him by five years. Because I have ancestors who lived well into their 90s, I may need to tack on another five years since the life expectancy for the average woman is just 81. In order to compensate for a longer life expectancy, I save an additional 5 percent in my 401(k) plan.
Taking time off of work
Women are usually the ones who take time out to care for children or for an elderly baby-boomer parent. According to the article, women are absent from the work world an average of 11 years over the course of their career due to family issues. I worked at home as an independent contractor in my 20s so I could care for my sons. I didn't have a full-time job with a retirement account until I was 30. To compensate for that lost decade, I now contribute to a Roth IRA. If I stop working again in the future, my husband and I agreed to make spousal IRA contributions so I wouldn't fall behind.
Getting less pay for similar work
I'm the first to admit my husband's work is more complex than mine. He also earned a master's degree while I have been satisfied with my bachelor's degree. Women still earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man. In our household, the income gap is even greater. We manage our wage disparity by using my husband's income to pay our monthly mortgage payment. We use my income to pay extra toward the mortgage after meeting our retirement savings goals.
Expert say shrinking the gender retirement gap comes down to numbers. My husband and I have figured out how much need to save as a couple to retire comfortably in another 25 years. Our target retirement savings number is $1 million. It may be more difficult for me to come up with my fair share of the $1 million. I'm sure on our many retirement excursions; he will bump me up to first-class if all I can afford is to fly coach.
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More from this contributor:A Gen-X Working Plan for Retirement
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