Americans overall aren’t saving enough for retirement, and as a group, women especially seem not to be prepared. Only 8% of women workers believe that they’re building a large enough retirement fund for themselves, according to the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies.

The Center surveyed more than 1,800 American women workers for the study, a part of its annual retirement survey.

One of the biggest reasons women aren’t getting ready for retirement: they’re not talking about it enough, according to the Transamerica Center’s research. Family and friends are main sources of retirement planning and investing information, according to 37% of the survey respondents. However, only 8% of women say they talk about retirement planning “frequently,” and 30% say they “never” talk about it with family and friends.

Changing these seemingly entrenched habits will require concrete measures. “An important first step toward helping women build retirement confidence is to raise awareness about the issues and then highlight ways that women can take greater control of their financial future,” says Catherine Collinson, president of the Transamerica Center.

Based on its research, the Center developed some questions that family, friends and advisors can use to help get women talking about retirement. Only 31% of women use a financial advisor, with another 29% saying they prefer to do their own research and make their own decisions, according to the survey. So one question to ask, according to the Center, is: How do you get information about saving for retirement and what is your decision-making process?

Since 60% of women are just guessing in order to figure out what their retirement savings goal should be, according to the survey results, another question to ask is: Do you know how much money you’ll need to retire at the age you want to retire?

Very few women (7%) have a written plan for their retirement strategy, including a backup plan, according to the survey results. A majority — 53% — have no plan at all, written or otherwise. Another pair of conversation-starting questions to address these points might be: 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?

It might be interesting to ask women about where they’re going for retirement planning advice and information, and why they use those sources, the Center suggested in its report. In addition to the 37% of women who rely on friends and family, according to the survey, another 29% talk to a financial planner or broker, with 27% using their retirement plan provider’s web site and 25% relying on other financial web sites.

Finally, it seems as though anyone trying to help women save more for retirement should ask them what they know about the saver’s credit or the ability to make catch-up contributions. According to the survey, just 22% of women are aware of the saver’s credit and a little less than half (48%) know they can make catch-up contributions.

Danielle Reed writes for Financial Planning.




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