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Getting women to talk about money

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Posted: 3 pm ET

My mother would roll over in her grave if she knew that I wrote about money and occasionally put my personal experiences with it in print for anybody to read.

So I thought it wasn't at all surprising when the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies asked women in their 50s and 60s if they ever discussed saving, investing and financial retirement planning with friends or family, the answer they got was a big NO from 30 percent of respondents and a tepid "occasionally" from 62 percent. Only 8 percent said "frequently."

Most women I know only talk about money when they are squabbling over how to divvy up the check when somebody ordered a drink. That reluctance is one of the reasons that women make less than men. Men ask for a raise -- women hope they'll be given one.

Anyway, Transamerica's study found that 60 percent of women in their 60s think that Social Security will be their primary income in retirement. Social Security says that in 2009, the average annual Social Security income received by women 65 years and older was $12,155. That's a little more than $1,000 a month. I don't know about you, but I can't live on that.

If there's a woman in your life and she's getting older and she's not talking about money, chances are there's a reality gap there that you ought to be nudging her to confront. Here's a few questions that Transamerica says you might ask to get the conversation started:

  • How do you get information about saving for retirement, and what is your decision-making process?
  • Do you know how much money you'll need to retire at the age you want to retire?
  • Do you know how you’ll reach your retirement savings goals? What would happen if you lost your job or got sick before your planned retirement age?
  • Who do you talk to or where do you go to learn more about saving and investing for retirement? Why?
  • Have you ever heard of the Saver’s Credit or Catch-Up Contributions? Do you know if you’re eligible?

Good luck.

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1 Comment
A daughter-in-law
January 18, 2012 at 1:59 pm

My mother-in-law is 67 and has serious health problems that limit her mobility. However, she works two jobs because she has nothing saved, a mortgage, and 50,000 in credit card debt. Were it not for her two children who are now taking over the credit card debt for her, and who willingly shoulder the burden of her impending retirement, she would be a destitute divorcee with nothing to her name. Talk to your parents about money - even when they don't want to. My in-law was embarrassed about opening up about her financial misdeeds, but better now than when that 50k debt balloons up to 80k in a few years. Having staged the intervention now, hopefully she will right her financial ship enough to enjoy some semblance of retirement in the next few years.