By Echo Huang, CFA, CFP®, CPA
Recently I heard a story from a 67-year old woman who had gotten divorced after twenty years of marriage. She had raised her daughter at home while she was younger and she didn't get much at all from the divorce. She is now collecting about $900 per month from Social Security income and working part-time to get by while sharing an apartment with others. She is fearful about her financial future because she has never managed money before and it's hard for her to find a job at her age. This month, I also heard another story about a woman who confided to her granddaughter in college that she had stayed in an abusive marriage for many years because she didn't have any control of money. Later, this woman's death resulted from falling down the stairs and was later confirmed not to be an accident. In fact, her abusive husband pushed her down the stairs. Staying because of money had literally cost her her life.
There are many stories like these that made me feel sad, but they have also made me more certain than ever that a man is not a plan.
Women face unique challenges in planning for a secure financial future while going up against these facts:
- Women earn less than men even though more women have a college degree than men. According to statista.com, in an impressive increase from years past, 35.3 percent of women in the United States had completed four years or more of college in 2018. This figure is up from 3.8 percent of women in 1940. A significant increase can also be seen in males, with 34.6 percent of the U.S. male population having completed four years or more of college, up from 5.5 percent in 1940. More women in the US have a college degree than men, but the average woman's unadjusted annual salary has been cited as 78% to 82% of that of the average man's as of 2015 (and hasn't changed that much today).