Women in mid-life and beyond cannot help but be concerned with their financial well-being as they become older. Considerations differ for women who are single, married, divorced, widowed, disabled or in non-marital partnerships. Prospects also differ substantially for women of various ages due to changes in societal norms around work, mothering, and pay equality. Finally, level of education and participation or lack of participation in the workforce are very potent factors in determining a woman’s financial situation in older age.
Many women are exceedingly vulnerable financially due to their career and relationship status. In past decades, most women have been dependent on a spouse’s benefits, savings and investments or survivor benefits to have even a modest fixed income. Women who work may continue to work or work for the first time to make up the difference between what they receive and what they need to live comfortably, while others rely on children and other family members for partial support during their retirement years. Women who are married but don’t want to stay with their spouse may remain married simply because they cannot afford to live on their own should they divorce. There are many dilemmas women face around finances.
There are also women, particularly in more recent generations who have been in the workforce out of desire or necessity and some who have established careers that enabled them to earn a pension or save on their own for retirement. Social Security and Medicare remain vital social safety nets for women in all situations, but especially for women lacking independent resources. Learning to save, invest, even simply to track and manage one’s finances are key skills that no woman can afford to be without.
The women in our group vary a great deal in their financial situations. In this discussion, I invite our group to share, without judgement, their thoughts, feelings and concerns about finances and aging. No one will be asked to disclose the specifics of their situation, but you are welcome to share whatever you are comfortable sharing. Here are some questions to stimulate our discussion:
- What kinds of factors, including relationship status, education level, work opportunities, parenting choices or family of origin situations have affected your financial well-being?
- If you have developed money-related skills over your lifetime, how did you learn or acquire these skills?
- Do you have children or others who remain dependent on you financially?
- What is your level of concern about your own financial future? What are the primary concerns you have about finances and aging?
- If your money situation is tight or your resources are becoming depleted, have you found any resources or practical solutions to help you get by as your resources diminish?