Retirement Planning Challenges for Women

Do women feel prepared for retirement? According to a Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies survey, only 12% of women are “very confident” in their ability to fully retire with a comfortable lifestyle. If women do not feel confident about saving enough for retirement, it is because they face significant economic challenges.

More than half of the YMCA Retirement Fund’s participants are women. We believe it is important to highlight the factors contributing to women’s struggles in retirement planning and to offer insight into the steps women can take to prepare themselves for their financial future.


The gender pay gap is a well-known financial hurdle for women. For every dollar men earn, women earn 78 cents¹. If women earn less than men, they will also save less for retirement. According to the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, 73% of women are saving for retirement through employer-sponsored retirement programs compared to 82% of men.


Women are more likely than men to assume the role of the family caregiver and put their career on hold to care for a loved one². Career disruptions have a huge impact on women who not only sacrifice their income but are unable to participate in employer-sponsored retirement programs. If a woman leaves the workforce between ages 30-40, she will have 32% less retirement savings than a woman who continues to work during that time period.


With a longer life expectancy than men, women also face more long-term care expenses in retirement. A Fidelity analysis estimates that women will need $147,000 to cover health care and medical expenses in retirement while men can expect to pay an estimated $133,000. Women are also 50% more likely to enter a nursing home, which costs an average of $85,800 per year³.


Although women face daunting challenges, they should not feel discouraged about planning for retirement. Here are some tips to help women take charge of their financial future.

  • Start a conversation. Many women feel uncomfortable talking about money, but it’s important to make retirement planning a topic of conversation. An open dialogue with trusted friends and loved ones can spark new ideas and help you take action to save more for retirement.
  • Do not guesstimate, calculate. This easy-to-use, intuitive tool allows you to create customized monthly income payment estimates by combining current account information with Plan provisions. Log in to your account to access the Lifetime Income Tracker.
  • Save more with each paycheck. YMCA professionals have the opportunity to save more for retirement by opening a 403(b) Smart Account with the Fund. Simply fill out this form and submit it to your Human Resources Department to start saving tax-deferred through payroll deduction.

We hope this information is helpful. The YMCA Retirement Fund is proud to be your partner in planning and saving for retirement.

1. U.S. Census Bureau & Labor Statistics
2. Pew Research Center, 2013
3. AARP, 2018

November 1, 2019