7 ways men and women see retirement differently

We already know most men are from Mars and women are from Venus.  John Gray’s book told us that and in doing so offered up many suggestions to improve relationships between men and women through various communication styles and responding to the hard-wired general biases of the opposite sex.  Maybe surprisingly then, men and women differed very little in their responses to a recent study about the subject of retirement and money.  Here are seven ways the two genders see retirement differently from Sun Life Financial’s Understanding Unretirement here.

Men are more likely to be satisfied with their retirement savings

We asked respondents how satisfied they are, and 33% said either “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied.” Not a bad number, given the capital market volatility we’ve seen in recent years. Men appear in better shape, however, with 38% saying they were “very” or “somewhat” satisfied. Among women, the total is 29%. Almost half of women (47%) are “very dissatisfied” or “somewhat dissatisfied” with their savings. By comparison, just 36% of men said the same.

More than a third of women expect to be working part-time at 66

While men and women expect to work past 65 in roughly equal numbers, women are more likely to be planning on part-time work while men are more likely to keep working full-time. We asked respondents what they thought they’d be doing at 66; 34% of women said “working part-time” (versus 29% of men) and 31% of men said “working full-time” (versus 21% of women).

Men are much more likely to work past 65 by choice

Among those who expect to be working at 66, 42% of men said they’ll do so “because they want to” (versus 31% of women). Almost seven in 10 women expect to be working at 66 “because they need to.”

More men pay themselves first

It’s one of the principles of personal finance — put a sum of money aside in savings each month before paying your living expenses and making discretionary purchases. About three in 10 (29%) men said they do it every month, while 23% of women said the same. One third of men and women do it sometimes.  And 41% of women said they never do it (versus 34% of men).

Saving for retirement is a top priority among many more men

We asked respondents to name their top financial priority. Among men, 27% said it was “saving for retirement.” Just 19% of women said the same.  In both cases, the highest percentage said their No. 1 priority is to “pay down personal loan(s) or other debt(s).”

Men are more likely to be confident about their understanding of financial matters

Well over half (56%) of men answered yes to our question: “Do you feel you have the financial knowledge to be able to make a plan for your retirement?”  Among women, 48% said yes.

Yet men are less likely to worry about dying in debt

Surprisingly, 27% of Canadians said “no, it does not matter if I die in debt.” The gender split adds to our understanding: 35% of men aren’t worried about debt in the afterlife, while just 20% of women said the same.

That last item aside, it’s hard to look at these numbers and not feel it supports an argument that too many Canadian women are at a disadvantage economically (relative to men at least).

You can read this article and others in Sun Life Financial’s Understanding Unretirement here.

This article was published with permission and thanks to Kevin Press, author of Today’s economy blog and fans of My Own Advisor, BrighterLIfe.ca.

My name is Mark Seed - the founder, editor and owner of My Own Advisor. As my own DIY financial advisor, I'm looking to start semi-retirement soon, sooner than most. Find out how, what I did, and what you can learn to tailor your own financial independence path. Join the newsletter read by thousands each day, always FREE.

20 Responses to "7 ways men and women see retirement differently"

    1. Perhaps, but I would think because of their inflated egos, the desire to trade and be “one up” on the market or their buddies, on average, men could learn a few things from women when it comes to patience and investing. Thoughts?

      1. Inflated ego isn’t a men thing, and women and patience hahahahaha, yeah right 😀
        On a more serious tone, when B.Graham talked about the irrationality in the markets and the crowd behavior in these, he talked about this human race at large, not toward women or men. For me there are no differences in the gender, because egocentrism, self-deceiving, cognitive dissonance and irrationality strike whatever of it.
        Remember when Bernays began his work with big corporations in the fields of crowd behavior and consumerism, created the infamous PR, and how he helped to manipulate women by saying “Yes you are free! You can smoke too now!” and they believed and continue to believing it.
        The problem is deeper and wider than a false gender war as our so politically correct and weak societies tend to try to brainwash us with.

  1. A lot of men want to keep working after 65 because they don’t know what to do with themselves. Their sense of value is gone.

    My hubby, I am thinking, will want to keep working after 65, although maybe on a more limited basis. We will have to see. After all, he works constantly and rarely takes holidays now, so what will change?

    He wouldn’t have a clue about retirement savings, as I handle all the finances. After this year is over, we will have a better handle on it all, as I am tracking spending and saving this year in detail.

    1. Ha, I won’t have that problem Barbara. There are many things I want to do and learn to do. You seem to have a great grasp of the finances, good on you. Do you find the diligent spending tracking is helping to determine the “enough” number?

      1. Mark, it is great to have hobbies and interests outside of paid work, good for you.

        Your columns have inspired me, and I enjoy them a lot. This year is the first year I have tried to account for where we spend our money. I will tally it all up at year end–my January project–which will give me some peace of mind I believe.

        One thing I have realized, is that our hobbies and interests are fairly cheap–we like reading, gardening and the outdoors. All those years of not being able to afford restaurant meals (3 kids, one income) has left us thinking that so many of them are way too expensive to partake in often.

        I love travel but fortunately the places i like to go are inexpensive destinations and I prefer small family run hotels. So even a 9 week trip to Central America and southern Mexico, like I did in 2013, doesn’t cost much.

        Next year I will be able to determine our “enough” number. I have a sorta number, but it possibly is too high. I don’t want to miss out on too much now, to have extra money later…..my mom died when she was only two years older than I am now. I definitely do not want another stock market crash to derail things!

        1. Thanks for the kind words Barbara.

          No doubt the tally will give you some peace of mind. I also have cheap hobbies, I enjoy gardening and mountain biking in my area.

          Travel is great, but it’s expensive. We stay at B&Bs when my wife and I travel, that keeps the costs down and it’s also fun.

          I suspect you and many other near- or retirees don’t want to see another market crash. I suspect it will happen again I just can’t predict when!

          Sounds like you have solid plans in order, great stuff to read.

    2. It’s not a men thing;because a large portion of the active population, whatever the gender, has nothing to do beside their children, TV, so called social media and other small talk and gossip. Nothing that cultivate the knowledge, self-improvement and spirit of discovery.
      It’s more a problem of our “civilized” and “so connected” societies than something else.

  2. Saving for retirement is waaaaaay more important for myself than it is for my wife. Not to say she doesn’t think about it. She does. But with a gov pension she basically just needs to ut her time in and can’t control nearly as much of the details

  3. I wonder about the sample size of this survey and the different age categories. I bet the answers would be slightly different if you ask someone in the 25 – 35 age group vs the 35-45 age group. Also like others have mentioned, men probably lie more on these surveys than women. 🙂

    1. I’ll see if I can get that information from Kevin Press or other folks at Sun Life, re: sample size.
      No doubt different cohorts will have different answers for sure. Thanks for the comment tawcan!

    2. Hey tawcan,

      Thanks to the great folks at Sun Life, I got some answers…

      Here is the information Kevin’s team provided, I hope this helps.

      (1) The survey referenced in the gender section was fielded in 2012 and
      reported upon in 2013 – The sample size was 3017 of which 1,448 (48%) were
      male and 1,569 (52%) were female.

      (2) The ages of the respondents ranged from 30 to 66. We did not ask people
      under the age of 30.


  4. It’s tough to interpret these results because men and women differ in the types of questions they’re likely to lie about (or lie to themselves about). The question about working past 65 by choice seems like the type of thing that many men would lie about.

    1. I don’t have the statistical data handy (from the survey/index used) but I would think the deviation is definitely higher for men – lying to themselves I would think is right up there coupled with I already know the answer 🙂

      Thanks for the comment. Need to check out what you wrote today.


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