Women clearly have gotten the message that they are likely to spend at least some of their retirement years alone because of divorce or the high probability of outliving their husbands. The U.S. Department of Labor has estimated that nearly 90 percent of women will end up managing their finances alone. Unfortunately, this realization has not translated into concrete steps -- including frank financial discussions with their husbands or partners.
According to the sixth annual Allstate "Retirement Reality Check" survey, which measures Americans' attitudes toward and savings for retirement, almost half of women have considered the financial implications of retiring alone, compared with 36 percent of men.
Not surprisingly, the Allstate survey showed that women are slightly more likely than men to say they are planning for retirement separately from their spouse or partner (37 percent of women vs. 32 percent of men). The steps these women are most likely to take include making sure their spouse or partner has adequate life insurance (84 percent of women vs. 75 percent of men) and a will (54 percent of women vs. 52 percent of men).
Among women, 49 percent said they invest money separately from their spouse or partner, compared with 43 percent of men. And 42 percent of women said they maintain a separate savings account, compared with 28 percent of male respondents.
But the survey also highlighted two potential barriers between women and a financially comfortable retirement. First, almost half of the women respondents said the husband or partner takes the lead in planning for retirement. Second, couples appear to believe that a simple conversation keeps their plan on track; 48 percent of women and 58 percent of men said that's all that is needed to get their partner to take a specific action regarding saving for retirement. But, that confidence may conceal serious defects in planning for retirement.
More sobering, few respondents said they feel very prepared financially for retirement, although men are a bit more optimistic than women (23 percent of men vs. 19 percent of women).
For the full report, please visit www.allstate.com