Planning · March 17, 2022

4 Reasons Women Don't Save for Retirement and How to Overcome Them

Women face a unique set of financial hurdles when it comes to retirement planning. In most cases, women earn less over their careers and spend less time in the workforce. In addition, women generally have longer livespans than men, meaning they need to be mindful of how they allocate their money over the years. Overall, this leads to fewer funds to put aside for retirement.

With these persistent obstacles, it's crucial for women to start retirement planning early. Unfortunately, too many women may also need to overcome mental barriers—developed through no fault of their own⁠—to saving for retirement.

In this article, we'll break down some of those mental barriers women face in planning early and often for retirement. Whether you're a woman trying to learn more about planning for retirement or a man trying to look out for the financial well-being of the women in your life, there's something for you in this article.

Reasons women may not be saving for retirement

1I'm too busy

Planning for the future takes a lot of energy⁠—it's complex, emotional and not fun at times. It's for these reasons, among others, that it's easy to tell yourself you're too busy to sit down and plan for retirement. And because retirement planning doesn't have a due date like paying your taxes or bills, it's even easier to push off for another day.

Just like setting out to achieve large goals, breaking up your retirement planning into smaller chunks can make the endeavor seem less daunting. Here are a few small chunks you can think about breaking your retirement planning into:

  • Lifestyle: Have a casual conversation with your partner about what kind of lifestyle you want to have in retirement—that will likely open up even more regular conversations between you two about how much you're each saving and how your vision of retirement shifts over time.
  • Diversification: Look into other retirement savings opportunities, such as opening and contributing to a traditional or Roth IRA.
  • Action: Log in to any old retirement accounts you may have with other employers to know how much you have in each account and see which of the four options for distribution for your retirement account(s) makes sense to act upon.

2My partner manages our finances

Division of labor is critical in any household, but a couple's finances aren't something that should be on that list. Too often, couples leave the responsibility of financial planning and investing⁠—or at least the coordination of those activities with a financial professional⁠—to one partner. What this tends to mean is the other partner is largely unaware of what the family's full financial situation looks like. In the event of a death or divorce, this could leave one partner in a position where they may rush to make financial choices that prove to be costly later.

Instead of seeing one partner as the guardian of the household's financial activities, couples should have joint meetings so both partners understand the full financial picture. Try suggesting to your partner that you both participate in financial management discussions. Those conversations can also help you both uncover what kind of lifestyle you want to have in retirement and other financial goals you may have along the way.

3I'll save more after my kids graduate

Many parents cut back on their retirement contributions to put aside money for their kids' college funds. But with so many options available for funding a child's college education⁠—grants, scholarships, 529 plans and loans⁠—reducing your retirement plan contributions is not necessary. If you need another way to look at it, you can get a loan for college, but not for retirement.

If reducing your retirement fund contributions to help with your children's education is necessary, have an honest conversation with your partner about how much you both have saved for retirement currently. If one of you has significantly more, it might make more sense for that partner to cut back on their contributions by a bit more than the other.

4I don't know where to start

As we mentioned earlier, planning for retirement can be overwhelming, especially if you have a lot going on or haven't spent as much time as you would like on learning what financial tools make the most sense for you. Analysis paralysis happens all too often when it comes to managing household finances and retirement planning.

The good news is there are many credible resources available online to help you learn more about specific strategies and products you can use for retirement planning. You can even find financial resources that address and help overcome many of the specific hurdles women face in retirement planning and financial well-being.

Another resource women can consider tapping into is a financial consultant. Having a trained professional guide you through a conversation about your current retirement plan status and where you want to go can, in and of itself, be helpful. But a financial consultant can also take financial tasks off your plate once they know what you want your lifestyle to look like.


As we've just covered, many of the reasons why women defer retirement planning are surmountable. When examined closely, there are actions women can take to break down these reasons in their minds. Small actions on a regular basis can put women on a path to a stable retirement savings plan.

But women don't have to go at it alone. Working with a trusted financial professional can help you make sense of your retirement goals and how to use the right planning tools to make them reality.

There are simple and actionable steps you can take to build a financial plan, which is a natural precursor to a retirement plan. To get started, watch a replay of our webinar, 5 Strategies to Kickstart Your Financial Plan.

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