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The Sandy Spring Way

Retirement Planning for Women: Four Tips for Getting Started

August 12th, 2014 | By Sandy Spring Bank

By Jennifer O. Cumming, Vice President, CFP® and Senior Investment Advisor

Retirement Planning for Women

I recently had lunch at Sandy Spring’s new Bethesda Financial Center and with two of my colleagues, Laurie Kramer, CFP® and Senior Vice President and Barbara Mulitz, Vice President.

As we discussed information we had recently read about women and retirement planning, we all agreed that retirement planning for women should be different than retirement planning for men. Why? During retirement, women have different, and often greater, economic needs from men. Women are retiring in greater numbers every year with varying degrees of financial security, so we want to ensure they are equipped with the information they need to make informed retirement decisions.

To start, here are some of the gender differences to take into consideration¹:

  • Women, for the same work, make less money than men.
  • Women work fewer years outside the home. This limits lifetime wages and impacts savings for retirement.
  • More women seek part time employment. This results in lower earnings and little or no corporate benefits, all of which impact retirement resources and access to employer retirement benefits.
  • Women are more likely to outlive their spouses by seven years.

Because women are likely to be the surviving spouse, there is a greater possibility that health care costs for an ailing spouse will deplete already limited resources. Simply put, women need more money in their retirement savings accounts than men.

However, only 45% of working women participate in a retirement plan¹. Why is this?

While we know that women understand the importance of investing, saving, and building a strong financial program, they often aren’t sure where to begin. This is a long-term commitment, so women also need to receive clear and relevant information throughout the entire journey.

So, what are our four tips for getting started?

  1. Set a timeline. I set a timeline for gathering a statement for every one of my financial accounts by Labor Day 2014
  2. Review every statement for contributions, rates of return, fees, and investment options.
    I made a date with my statements for Monday afternoon on Labor Day weekend. I actually blocked it out on my calendar, so I can take the time to review every statement.
  3. Set a budget. I committed to a budget, on paper, that accounts for ALL spending, not just the bills. I am tracking everything I spend, from now through Labor Day, so I can see where I really stand.
  4. Create a plan of action. I devised a savings plan that is a line item in my budget. I contribute to my savings FIRST, because my cable, mobile plan, and shoe purchases really are negotiable.


This is just the start of the conversation. We will continue to discuss financial issues for women, including more about retirement planning, in upcoming blogs. But, this is not a one-way conversation. We invite you to join our ongoing discussion, and we welcome your questions, suggestions and comments. Look for us here, as we continue to share information through our blog, and watch for invitations to join our in-person seminars starting in the fall of 2014.

¹US Department of Labor, Women and Retirement Savings Publication.