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Retirement: men vs. women

By Jennie L. Phipps · Bankrate.com
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Posted: 10 am ET

My husband is an accountant for an insurance company. Numbers rule his world. I'm a journalist with a left-brain orientation. When it comes to retirement financial planning, I'm from Mars; he's from Venus.

I always thought it was just us, but a recent study by Charles Schwab reports that we're not alone. Men generally see retirement planning differently than women.

The most unsurprising thing about this survey was the news that 47 percent of men trust only themselves -- nobody else -- to make financial decisions, while only 32 percent of women said that was true. The survey also said that only 17 percent of men turned to family and friends for financial advice, while 30 percent of women avail themselves of that kind of help.

Sounds right to me -- at least that's the way it is at my house.

Other gender-related findings from the survey include:

  • As long as it works. Forty-six percent of women say that as long as their investments are working well, they don't need to understand the underlying reasons for success. Fewer men -- 38 percent -- feel that way.
  • Just for me. Sixty-seven percent of women want specific advice tailored to their personal situations, while 55 percent of men prefer this personal approach.

All this really means is that we have to tolerate our spouse's differing approach to retirement planning -- something I find easier to say than do.

***

A thank you to all the people who volunteered for the Social Security experiment I talked about yesterday. I'll be getting in touch. If you haven't responded yet, don't bother -- the slots are all filled.

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2 Comments
Jeanne
January 19, 2011 at 5:41 pm

Wow - that is so interesting, I had no idea. When I read your article the very first thing I thought of (I don't know if this has crossed anyone else mind) was I wondered if it has anything to do with how, traditionally, men and women are raised? I mean women are taught to be the care takers, communicators, listeners, opinion seekers, interactors, peace makers, information gatherers, not confident in math/science arena's etc. While men are taught to be THE decision maker, be strong, make up their own mind - don't ask, be sole provider's, be soley responsible...those kinds of things. It's a very intersteng, this information...makes you think....why? Thanks again for some great information!

Paul Petillo of Target2025.com
January 17, 2011 at 9:09 am

Jennie,

You didn't mention what sort of retirement plan you have in place. I'm assuming there is something and that your husband probably has a 401(k) at his workplace. Of course numbers rule his world but numbers often can be skewed to portray what people want to see.

Rather than take an opposite ends of the world approach, perhaps you should combine your plans as one. His plan obviously has pluses and minuses and yours probably does as well. Consider looking at both plans together. If you make more than he does, your dollar contribution will actually be higher even if the percentages are the same. His might have a better match. Whatever the reason, taking advantage of the nuances of each plan benefits both of you and you more importantly - in part, because if the stats hold up, you'll be the sole beneficiary one day as you outlive him.

His retirement focus should be yours and vice versa. Gender difference add flavor to the discussion and shouldn't draw lines. When brokers/advisers/planners conduct these surveys, it is more of a tool to help their agents sell differently. If the goal is the same and the approach seems different, the meeting halfway, the melding of two plans as one. eliminates those problems.