Mostly, we see eye to eye. But although there are several commonalities, according to recent research conducted by MIT AgeLab, men and women have very different perspectives about retirement. In addition, numerous studies reveal that gender strongly influences the path that men and women take to plan for their retirement.
Here are five ways men and women see retirement differently.
- Who Will You Focus on After Retirement?
Empirical evidence shows that men and women share the same dreams and goals for retirement: better health and more free time. However, the people we choose to spend time with after retirement are an integral part of planning for the future. Let’s look at the differences between men and women:
Men: Men tend to focus on their spouses. Their first priority for retirement planning is often to secure their partner financially. They tend to be concerned about their partner’s health and security, rather than that of other family members.
Women: In addition to work, women’s identities are very closely tied to the relationships they have built nurturing their families. Often, a lifetime of caregiving equips women with a sense of purpose to serve others that will last into retirement. Hence, women are more likely than men to report adult children, grandchildren, siblings and close friends as part of their financial planning for retirement.
- How Will You Spend Your Time in Retirement?
This question is fundamental to financial planning. It determines how much you will need to save to retire comfortably while addressing future goals and pursuits.
Men: Men see retirement as a reward. They see it as an opportunity to pursue activities they may have delayed for years. For instance, after retirement, they look forward to leisure and travel time. This ties in perfectly to why men report they need more for retirement: almost one in three Canadian men say they will need $1 million or more for retirement. Among those who expect to work past the age of 66, most men say they’ll do so “because they want to”.
Women: Women tend to continue with their roles after retirement. They perceive retirement as continuing to pursue the roles they are already involved in, such as part-time work, volunteering, and taking care of loved ones. They frequently describe retirement in terms of specific tasks and activities. Hence, most Canadian women say they will need less than $500,000 to retire – since they plan to continue with part-time work and other opportunities.
- How Do You “Feel” About Retirement?
Interviews reveal that men are much more enthusiastic than women about retirement.
Men: After men have retired, their children have grown, and they no longer have the obligation to work full-time, they are excited to see large amounts of leisurely time that they never had available before. This often gives them a sense of optimism and confidence for the future.
Women: On the other hand, although women view retirement as a potentially joyous and exciting phase of their lives, they use the word “worry” when they talk about retirement. Women often report being more worried about having enough money to retire comfortably. This may be due to the fact that the average lifespan of a Canadian woman is generally higher than that of their counterparts, and hence, women are more likely to outlive their male partners. In fact, the average age of widowhood for women in Canada is 56.9. With the passing of the spouse, women often experience a steep drop in income, which explains their financial worries. However, fear is sometimes the greatest motivator, and women seem to have a healthy dose of concern about their future, which allows them to plan ahead.
Your Next Steps
It’s important to recognize that there is more to retirement than money. It’s about exploring how you truly feel about the life stage, defining who is most important to you and your retirement plans, what activities and roles you will pursue after full-time work has ended, and most importantly, having a detailed discussion between couples of all types and ages on how they envision an ideal retirement and constructing the plan to get there.
Talk to your advisor today to schedule a Core Conversation to discuss your expectations for retirement and how they can complement your partner’s. The key lies in learning from each other and how to work together to build a dream retirement.