"His & Her’s: Why Gender-based Financial Planning Matters" By Sibyl Slade, CRPC




I realize we are striving to become a more inclusive society whereby we seek equal, just, and fair treatment of both sexes. However, there are some financial issues as it relates to men and women that are almost impossible to view through the lens of equality. Most of us have come to accept that life insurance is discriminately priced based on age, sex, and health conditions, etc. This is because insurance actuaries are allowed to group us based on our risk class and the time horizon in which a life insurance claim is likely to be filed. But, there are few other financial issues that we tend to overlook and they inherently impact the amount of discretionary income we have to save. Let’s talk about a few of these:

  • Pink Tax

Women who are professionals in the workforce pay an extra $1,300 per year for everyday things - - Dry cleaning costs for a woman’s shirt compared to the cost to dry clean a man’s shirt, cost of men shampoo versus women shampoos, cost of men jeans versus women’s jeans. For a 30 year career, that’s upwards of $39,000 (Report by CBS).

  • Child Support

In 2013, only 40% of custodial parents received their child support payments. Raising a child to age 18 could costs over $245,000 excluding college expenses. According to a 2016 U.S. Census report, only 1 in 6 custodial parents are fathers. Therefore, roughly 86 percent of custodial parents are mothers.

  • Retirement Savings

Women are likely to take breaks for child-rearing and caregiving. Certainly, this inherently impacts income, benefits, and the like. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Reports, P60-245, 2013) 75% of caregivers are women. Women spend as much as 50% more time than men taking care of aging loved ones.


Additionally, women sometimes are conservative investors. Because of this many times their savings might not be on track to meet their financial goals. . (Source: U.S. Department of Labor, "Women and Retirement Savings," October 2011)

  • Health Care and Filing for Medicare

Many married couples have an age gap. The partner who is nearest age 62 should consider the age of their spouse when preparing for retirement. If the oldest partner is the primary health care insurance provider for the couple, this partner may need to continue working to keep health care insurance coverage on their spouse until their spouse is eligible for Medicare. The average couple retiring today can expect to pay $280,000 in health care and medical costs in retirement. Remember, Medicare does not cover vision and dental.

  • Social Security

Women make up nearly 50% of the workforce. Women generally earn less (82% on average to men) and save less. This gap inherently impacts their Social Security benefits, pensions, and overall savings. (Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Women in the Labor Force: A Databook, December 2012)


In looking at married couples, the spouse with the smallest Social Security Benefit should file early (age 62) and the spouse with the largest Social Security Benefit should delay filing (age 70). The largest Social Security Benefit is the income bridge to cover both lives. If one spouse dies, the largest Social Security Benefit is what the surviving spouse would receive. Delaying the larger benefit could potentially double its benefit amount over the 8 year waiting period.

  • Long Term Care

Women tend to live longer than men. Roughly 4.8 year longer which means women have to stretch their retirement dollars further. (Source: The National Vital Statistics Reports, Volume61, Number 4, May 8, 2013)


If you live to age 65, you can expect to live to age 86.6. Men, who live to age 65, can expect to live to 84.3. With that being said, women can expect to spend an additional $22,000 in medical costs during retirement than men who are the same age.


According to Morningstar, 52.3% of people turning 65 will have a long term care need during their lifetimes. The average duration for nursing home stay for men is roughly 9 months and the average duration for nursing home stay for women is 1.44 years. The median annual nursing home cost for a semi-private room is $82,000 per year.


As you can see, we cannot afford to overlook these startling facts. Having a financial professional who understands how each of these lifecycle phases impacts you by gender is key. You do not want to defer to a Roboadvisor or go at it alone when addressing these financial concerns.

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