It seems that the differences between men and women extend even into retirement and the planning for it. Here are five things women need to consider:
1. Women live longer.
What this really means is that women need to find the moola to pay the bills for a few years longer than men do. A woman turning 65 today can expect to live until 86.6; a man just has to make the money stretch, on average, to age 84.3, says the Social Security Administration.
The easier-said-than-done solution: Save more.
2. Women are more likely to fly solo in their later years.
Because of the difference in life expectancy and the fact that many women marry men older than themselves, most men will die married while the majority of women will die as widows. More than half the women over 65 are widows, and they outnumber widowers by three to one.
The solution: Look for companions to travel, hang out with, and maybe even cohabitate with. And learn to do more things by yourself.
3. Truth: Stepping out of the work force is easy; stepping back in is not.
Many women decide to take a break from work and stay home when their kids are young. The only financial factor they generally consider at the time is whether their family income is enough to meet their expenses. It's what they don't consider that can come back to haunt them: Their skills get out-of-date, "mommy" experience isn't seen as the same as "work" experience, and at the point they want to go back to work, the market doesn't welcome them back with open arms.
As Deborah L. Jacobs wrote in Forbes, "The corporate world values work experience, and no matter how you spin the story about your PTA service and volunteer work, staying home with the kids is not work experience."
Perhaps an even worse time to opt out of the work force comes at another point in women's lives: when their parents need them to become caregivers. Older women have the additional curse of age discrimination working against them when they try to reenter the work place.
The solution: Just be aware that your choices today could result in extended consequences tomorrow.
4. Retired women are poorer than retired men.
As the result of a lifetime of reduced income, the average woman has less in savings and retirement benefits on which to live. In 2009, the median income of women over age 65 was $15,282 -- roughly 59 percent of the median income ($25,877) of older men, said the Administration on Aging.
The solution: This is a result of the continuing gender wage disparity. How is it that we are even still talking about it after all these years? Equal pay for equal work.
5. Part-time work rarely leads to a solid retirement.
Working part-time has been the compromise choice for many women who limit their work hours in order to better balance their family obligations. The problem is that part-time jobs generally don't offer a retirement plan. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, out of the 62 million working women in the U.S. more than half -- 55 percent -- do not participate in a retirement plan at work.
The solution: Start socking money away in an IRA if you don't have access to a pension or 401k plan at work.