That I Left You Broke and Penniless
Many modern day couples look quite different from past decades, highlighted by the fact that 30 percent of women are now earning more than their husbands. This step towards financial equality has not, however, changed one traditional role; men still remain largely in charge of the family’s finances. 63 percent of women still do not have any knowledge of the family’s investments or long-term financial planning, leaving all of their retirement funds in the hands of their partner. So this Valentine’s Day, give the gift that really says “I love you”: financial security.
While women are the ones who tend to pay the bills and manage the family’s day-to-day budget, they are still taking a hands-off approach with their investments, leaving that very important financial responsibility to their husbands. Many women have no idea how their retirement funds are being invested and how much money these funds are gaining or losing in any given month, or what they are entitled to if anything should happen to their spouse or their marriage. A third of women who become widowed are younger than age 60, and half of all women who will become widowed become so by age 65. For many women, the road to poverty begins after their husbands pass away. As women age, they become more vulnerable to poverty. Nearly a third of single women over age 75 are living in poverty on less than $890 a month. Many women also do not realize that a divorce does not automatically entitle them to part of their husband’s pensions. If you have taken years out of the labor force to raise children or care for family members, this could leave you in a terrible financial situation. The average woman can see her standard of living drop as much as 30 percent after a divorce.
This Valentine’s Day, give the gift of financial security by spending some quality time with your loved one going over your family finances, and vow to remain involved from this point forward. These decisions will impact both of you and so you should be equally involved in the decision-making process.
For information on how to manage your retirement, check out WISER’s What Today’s Woman Needs to Know and Do: The New Retirement Journey. For more information on how to keep your retirement secure in the face of divorce or widowhood, please visit our website and factsheets.