Single Women Don't Save Enough for Retirement

On average, women will need at least $500,000 before they stop working.

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The Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies has some scary news for single women: Many aren't saving enough to fund the kind of retirement they might want.

On average, the center estimates that a single woman needs to have saved $500,000 by the time she reaches retirement. But according to its annual survey, most are on track to store up far less than that. One-third of single female respondents had saved less than $25,000 and only 1 in 10 had saved more than $100,000. Only 6 percent had calculated how much they will need to fund themselves once they stop working.

One mistake women—as well as other demographics—make is prioritizing higher pay over benefits packages, which can make it easier to save for retirement through 401(k) matches. Most single women said they'd prefer a job with higher pay over one with "excellent" retirement benefits. Among those who do have retirement benefits, 70 percent participated with a median contribution rate of 6 percent of their income.

Not saving enough for retirement is certainly not just a single women's issue. According to the Fidelity Research Institute, the typical American household is on track to replace only 58 percent of its income in retirement.

Depressed enough yet? Here's what you can do:

  • Use an online calculator to figure out how much you need to be saving.
    • Save even more than you think is necessary. Whatever money you can manage to put into your 401(k) now, especially through automatic deductions, will grow by the time you're ready to retire, turning what would have been a few $4 lattes into a $4,000 cruise.
      • Recalibrate your budget. Saving for retirement should be up there with providing yourself with food and shelter. But the Transamerica Center survey found that it was the greatest financial priority for only 17 percent of single women.
        • Use fear to encourage action. Almost half of the women surveyed cited "outliving their money" as one of their greatest fears.
          • Check your benefits. When applying for a new job or even settling into your current one, make sure you know what your benefits are, and that you're taking advantage of any matches your employer offers.