How Saving for Retirement is Different for Female Entrepreneurs

Americans of all stripes rightly worry about saving enough for the long haul. As life expectancies lengthen, the average retiree needs more than ever before. The irresistible actuarial forces that make it possible for millions of Americans to meet their great-grandchildren are simultaneously putting pressure on their investments for retirement.

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Women entrepreneurs have it harder than most. Entrepreneur Magazine has a good primer on what business owners can do to save and invest for their later years, but women who own their own companies need to do more to guarantee their security as they age out of the workforce. And, no, working ‘till you drop is not an effective strategy.

Special Worries for Women Entrepreneurs

Women entrepreneurs face a host of unique concerns. They’re responsible for the “retirement gap” between male and female entrepreneurs. According to Guardian Life, just 45% of women entrepreneurs are confident about retirement, versus 55% of their male counterparts.

  • Low investing confidence: Many women approach investing tepidly or put it off entirely. Some leave it to their spouses or professional money managers, but for many, the default is simply to do nothing at all.
  • Extra demands on time and energy: The household division of labor remains frustratingly uneven. Women wrestle with cultural expectations that they’ll shoulder disproportionate domestic burdens: childcare, household chores, logistical tasks and more.
  • Tighter cash flow: The gender pay gap has been well documented, and there’s some evidence that it extends to self-made entrepreneurs as well. On average, women entrepreneurs aren’t as well capitalized as men.
  • Longer life expectancy: On average, women live longer than men. Accordingly, they’re likely to live outside the workforce for longer, and therefore require greater financial reserves. Unfortunately, many women spend their later years in declining health, necessitating tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings for medical care and assisted living.
  • Less support later in life: Women are more likely than men to outlive their spouses and siblings. More than one in three women over age 65 live alone. Many lack close relatives to provide for their care or even check in on them regularly.

What Women Business Owners Can Do to Save, Invest & Thrive

The good news is that it’s never too late to save for retirement. Nor is it too late for women entrepreneurs — no matter how busy — to educate themselves about the importance of financial planning. Women who follow these three simple tips are more likely to thrive in their golden years:

  • Raise financial IQ: Investing is intimidating, but it’s well within the grasp of smart women entrepreneurs. Savers can start by devoting an hour per week to reading financial literature and tutorials.
  • Invest in equitable partnerships: It’s 2016. It’s no longer defensible for male spouses to demand that their partners disproportionately shoulder childcare and household tasks.
  • Assess financial needs: Women entrepreneurs can’t be shy about clinically assessing their long-term financial needs, and their progress towards their goals, even if the news isn’t good. It’s never too late to change course.

How are you saving for retirement?