Study Underscores Savings Differences Between Men and Women

While both men and women overwhelmingly agree they are not saving enough for retirement, their overall savings habits and reasons given for not saving enough appear to be starkly different, according to a new study.

MassMutual’s internet-based Middle America Men & Women Finances Study polled 1,010 middle-income Americans and found that 44% of women report that they cannot afford to save for retirement compared to just 14% of men. The findings further show that men tend to be slightly more confident when it comes to feeling financially secure when they eventually retire. Nearly half (47%) of Middle American women say they are “not very” or “not at all” confident about being financially secure in retirement compared to 39% of men.

As to reasons why they are not saving any money on a month-to-month basis, 73% of women and 62% of men say all of their income goes toward monthly expenses and bills. In addition, 25% of women respondents say they do not save because their employer either does not match retirement plan contributions or does not offer a compelling match, while 21% of men say the same. Women were also found to be less likely than men to use any extra money to pay off debt (38% to 47%, respectively).

When they do save, men and women typically take different approaches, the study notes. Women are more likely than men to save “whatever is left after expenses” (47% for women versus 34% for men), while men are more likely to save a set amount each month (33% for women compared to 44% for men).

“Men are more likely to ‘pay themselves’ first, an effective habit for saving money,” says Teresa Hassara, Leader of MassMutual’s Workplace Solutions. “While educating women about effective savings strategies can help, women often face bigger challenges because they are typically paid less than men for the same work,” adds Hassara.

Financial Education Programs

The study further notes that a majority of both men and women say obtaining employee benefits through their employer contributes to feelings of greater financial security. Both genders expressed strong interest in employer-provided financial planning services, with 64% of men and 71% of women saying they are either very or somewhat interested. Respondents also showed interest in Social Security counseling, with 60% of men and 57% of women being either very or somewhat interested in such services.

“Employers can make a difference in how financially secure their employees feel, not only by offering a broad menu of health and welfare benefits but by offering education programs to help workers make better financial decisions,” Hassara noted.

The online survey of Middle Income Americans through Research Now’s panel was conducted by Greenwald & Associates on behalf of MassMutual. The survey was conducted from Feb. 28 to March 14, 2017.

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