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Issues Specific to Women
Issues Specific to Women
21st century women have gained new status and economic power, yet the events that shape our lives are relatively unchanged. Whether single, married, divorced or widowed, women generally live longer than men, so that at some point, the woman will be the sole financial decision maker. Therefore, it's critical to build the financial knowledge that will enable you to make informed decisions.

An independent financial advisor can help you evaluate your situation and set up a plan for lifelong financial security. Consider these factors:

The Relationship between Gender, Longevity and Poverty
For every 100 women over 65, there are only 77 men because a higher proportion of men die at every age. Women over 65 are three times as likely as men to be widowed. Nearly three-quarters of all elderly persons living below the poverty line are women. (Source: U. S. General Accounting Office and Bureau of Census.)

Women over 65 are much poorer than men - because they generally earn less throughout their careers and because widows receive only two-thirds of their husband's Social Security benefits.

The Real Cost of Divorce
Alimony and Property Divisions: In 1989, a Washington State Task Force on Gender and Justice in the Courts found that only 10% of wives being divorced were awarded maintenance (alimony) and the average amount was $432 per month for an average length of 2.6 years. A poorly thought out financial division at divorce can quickly lead to poverty, particularly for the female partner.

Child Support: In 88% of all divorces, mothers have primary or sole custody of their children. Yet only 60% of men pay spousal support after the first 2 years, and only 39% of women receive the full child support awarded.

Social Security: Remarriage may affect your right to collect benefits.

The Real Cost of Caregiving
Women are most often the caregivers in their families. While the emotional costs are widely recognized, the financial expenses are rarely mentioned. Unfortunately, the role of caregiver is more expensive than one might estimate at first glace.

A recent study suggests that two-thirds of workers who care for elderly relatives have lost out at work by forgoing promotions, pay raises and training opportunities…for workers in the study who were able to quantify the impact, the care has cost an average of $659,000 over their lifetimes in lost wages, Social Security and pension contributions, because they have to take time off, passed up promotions or "plum assignments", quit their jobs or retired early. (New York Times, May 7, 2000.)

Widows and Singles
Statistics show that the plight of the surviving spouse is largely a woman's ordeal. According to AARP, of the estimated 13 million widowed Americans, more than 11 million of them are women. While the U. S. Census Bureau puts the average age of widowhood at 55, an estimated 500,000 widows lost their spouses before age 45.

In general, women are more likely than men to depend entirely on Social Security for retirement income. Statistics show that the Social Security payment for women is 31% less, and the average monthly pension for women is 44% less, than for men.

For Social Security information tailored especially for women, please check out the following website: Social Security Online for Women. It addresses the various stages of a woman's life: bride, new mother, divorced, widowed, and care giver.