Two crucial realities have a profound impact on women and their finances. The first is that women are likely to outlive their male partners. Scientific American says, “in the U.S. male life expectancy was 73.4 years for males and 80.1 years for females, a difference of 6.7 years.”
The second reality is that nearly half of marriages end in divorce. A 2014 study out of the University of Minnesota said, “the ACS [American Community Survey] data reveal a continuing and dramatic increase in the risk of divorce since 1990. The rise of divorce is especially striking among older adults: among those aged 55 to 64, the divorce rate has quadrupled over the past three decades.”
What This Means for Women and Their Finances
What does that mean for women? It means most women will find themselves handling their own finances at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, women too often abdicate financial decisions to their spouses. This practice leaves many women ill prepared to manage their financial lives.
Today, many use the buzz word “gray divorce” to describe the increasing divorce rate for older couples in long-lasting marriages. However, it also applies to those married multiple times or for fewer years. Echoing the study mentioned above, a Pew Research Center report said the divorce rate among people 50 and over has roughly doubled since the 1990s. That leaves many women in that age group suddenly handling their own finances.
Unfortunately, chances are good for a woman to become a widow. Most women outlive their spouses. In fact, widowhood has been found to be one of the most prevalent links to poverty in women. So, by not taking an active role in the finances, ill managed assets and debt sometimes blindside widows.
Takes Steps Toward Financial Independence Now
It is imperative that women and their spouses discuss retirement accounts and keep their beneficiaries up-to-date. Both spouses should have updated wills in place.
With the gray divorce rate climbing, and 80% of women finding themselves widows, it is vital that all women become educated about and involved in their family finances. Get involved in your finances now, no matter your stage of life. Attend meetings with your family’s financial advisor. Educate yourself. Take a class on investing, or find a webinar, if that’s more convenient. Find your voice, get involved and empower yourself to be prepared to competently handle and understand your financial health.
PHOTO: Pixabay / CC0 Public Domain