By: Kat Peach
Updated: March 17, 2019
Maybe it’s because we’re less likely to do dumb, risky stuff like alligator wrestling or trying to ride a bike off the roof, but it’s a fact that women tend to live longer than men. However, studies repeatedly show that women lag behind their male counterparts when it comes to saving money for their golden years — which in itself is dangerous behavior.
So why are women saving less for retirement, and how can we bridge this gender investment divide?
Why Are Women Saving Less?
A recent Willis Towers Watson study asked nearly 5,000 American full-time employees about their financial priorities. While 60% of male respondents ranked saving for retirement at the top, only 44% of the females queried placed retirement as their No. 1 priority. Instead, the women were more likely to give precedence to current financial needs such as meeting daily family living costs or paying off debt.
Studies show that, on average, women have about half the retirement savings that men have. And nearly 50% of female respondents to a Student Loan Hero study reported not having any kind of savings vehicle at all.
Women are more likely to have gaps in their employment history due to childbirth and periods of time when they act as caregivers. That reduces their ability to accrue more money in their employer-sponsored retirement accounts.
Compound all of this with the fact that women still aren’t earning as much money as their male colleagues and it becomes clear that many women just don’t feel they earn enough income to be able to save for retirement. Living paycheck to paycheck, investing seems like a luxury.
So how do we get ourselves on the right path to retirement?
First, Get Debt-Free
First things first. If paying off your debt is taking financial priority, it’s time to take control. Think of paying off high-interest consumer debt as a great investment in yourself. After all, if you’re carrying a revolving balance on a credit card with an APY of, say, 19%, paying it off will be like getting a 19% annual return. Not only that, but you’ll be a lot less stressed out.
There are several different strategies for paying off your consumer debt. Here at Investor Junkie, we recommend using a peer-to-peer lending service such as Lending Club or Prosper.
These platforms consolidate your high-interest debt into loans as high as $35,000 and with rates potentially lower than 7%. This can free you from the never-ending cycle of paying only the minimums and help get your debt paid off much faster. Check out our in-depth guide to paying off your debt.
Start Investing With Robo Advisors
Once you’ve gotten your debt under control, it’s time to start investing. But knowing just how to get going can seem like an insurmountable challenge. Luckily, getting started with investing has never been easier with our How to Invest Guide.
Over the past few years, robo investing platforms have popped onto the scene. These robo advisors, as they’re commonly called, use computer algorithms to custom-design investment portfolios to fit your particular needs.
These services make finding the right balance for your portfolio a no-brainer. Plus, with many of the robo advisors, you can get started without a lot of money. Some platforms don’t even require a minimum investment!
Wealthfront and Betterment are two of the most popular robo advisors, and they’re both great choices if you’re just starting out. For an extra fee, Betterment will even provide you with assistance from actual living, breathing human advisor.
Ellevest: A Robo Advisor Just for Women
Yeah, we know that “just for her” products are often just goofy gimmicks. After all, do we really need separate pens?
It turns out, we just might need separate advice when it comes to investing and saving for retirement.
Ellevest (review here) was founded by former Wall Street exec Sallie Krawcheck with the mission to address women’s unique investment needs.
Unlike many other robo advisors on the market, this service factors human capital factors such as gender, salary, and education level into custom recommendations tailored for each client.
Ellevest adjusts its clients’ portfolios as needed, keeping goal timelines and risk tolerance in mind. Plus, Ellevest is an FDIC-registered fiduciary, so you can be sure it’s working with your best interest in mind.
Ellevest offers three pricing tiers:
- Ellevest Digital — fees are only 0.25% and with no required minimum balance. You’ll receive personalized investment portfolios and can take advantage of the optional Ellevest Impact Portfolios.
- Ellevest Premium — fees are 0.50% and with a required minimum balance of $50,000. You’ll receive one-on-one access to certified financial planners for personal guidance on financial and investment matters, as well as access to Ellevest Executive Coaches who can help you when it comes to careers and salaries.
- Private Wealth Management — a sliding scale of fees and with a minimum investment portfolio balance of $1 million. Here, you’ll receive white-glove service and a dedicated team of financial advisors.
When it comes to saving for retirement, women tend to lag behind men. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Ladies, it’s time to bridge the gender investing gap and secure financially secure futures for ourselves.