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At least they know who to ask for help

Ladies, it’s time to get out of the car and ask for directions. Destination: Retirement.

Two-thirds of women in or on the cusp of retirement are pretty sure they don’t know a lot about money planning for their twilight years, and 80 percent failed a basic quiz on managing their nest eggs.

And yet, most of them are undaunted and expect to sail comfortably through retirement with plenty of money, says The American College of Financial Services.

The college conducted its online survey of more than 1,200 women and men ages 60 to 75 in February. And to be fair, the men didn’t blow the doors off this quiz either, with passing rates under 50 percent in multiple categories. As a whole, three in four failed.

But the women did worse in 10 of 12 subjects — a problem, when you consider women tend to live longer and will likely be left managing that pot of money on their own.

It’s not all bad news

Before we go getting down on women and their financial acumen, let’s consider that in some matters, women have been killing it.

study from Fidelity earlier this year revealed women are not only better at saving money from an early age, but also at investing it — even while doubting their own abilities in this arena.

The skills tapped for retirement go beyond saving. The retirement survey in this case looked for an understanding of strategies to sustain income, life insurance, company retirement plans, annuities, and investments.

The two aspects women understood better than men were tied to health: Medicare planning and paying for long-term care.

“Women face considerable challenges when it comes to preparing for retirement, and lacking financial literacy certainly does not help the cause,” says Jocelyn Wright, a women’s studies professor at The American College of Financial Services.

Researchers did find what they called a silver lining: Women aren’t as likely as men to turn to friends or the internet for help, but they will seek a professional — one versed in financial planning — more often.

Sixty percent of women surveyed said it’s important “to receive education from an advisor about investment management” while only 47 percent of men agreed.

Generational or gender divide?

The divide could be something that fades with each upcoming generation.

An Equifax survey of financial literacy found that 41 percent of consumers relied on their parents to deliver vital financial lessons. That was more than courses delivered in high school and college, more than what’s available online and in news sources, and more than their significant others.

Ninety percent of those same folks surveyed believed the lessons should be taught alongside math and reading in grade school.

It seems part of the problem women have in planning retirement is their complicated relationships with men.

Most women believe they are making decisions with their spouses — splitting responsibility. But most men don’t think they are sharing. They believed they were the primary decision maker, the survey found.

Only 20 percent of women said they were the ones making most of the decisions — and when they were clear on that, they did a lot better on the quiz.

“Women cannot depend on their spouse to hold the keys to their retirement,” Wright said. “It is time to get smart on how to navigate this complex and extremely important stage of life.”

Want to get started on your retirement education? Check out these nine retirement myths.

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Meet the Author

Michelle Bryan

Michelle Bryan

Public Relations and Communications Manager

Ms. Bryan is the Public Relations and Communications Manager for


financial literacy, money management, save money, seniors

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