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An Age-by-Age Guide: Key Financial Questions Every Woman Should Ask

Use our answers to help you take charge of your financial future

YOUR MONEY SHOULD BE WORKING HARD to help you create a secure financial future. That’s true for everyone—but maximizing your financial power is even more important if you’re a woman. According to Lorna Sabbia, head of Retirement & Personal Wealth Solutions at Bank of America, women need to take several unique factors into account as they plot out their financial future: The likelihood they won’t be paid as highly as their male counterparts, possible career breaks to take care of family, higher health-care costs, and a good chance of a longer retirement due to the greater life expectancy of women than men.

“For all these reasons,” Sabbia says, “women should pay careful attention to every financial decision they make.” Use the following questions—and answers—as a starting point for thinking about how you can seize the opportunities available to you and put your money to best use at every stage of your life.

Your 20s and 30s are critical years for saving toward your retirement. Starting to save as early as possible allows your money the greatest amount of time to compound—which is perhaps the most important factor in accumulating enough to retire comfortably.

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Graphic showing a photo of a woman reading in bed. The text next to it reads- your 40s and 50s

During your 40s and 50s, life is whizzing ahead, both personally and professionally. You may be married, raising young children, managing the household finances, funding college tuitions, paying a mortgage and tending to a demanding career. How can you best plan for potential needs later in life, and take advantage of opportunities to advance your progress toward your life goals?

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At this stage, perhaps you’re eyeing retirement, ramping up travel or time with grandchildren, pursuing hobbies, starting your own small business or getting involved in philanthropic endeavors that help you give back and find meaning.

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1 Pew Research Center, “The Narrowing, but Persistent, Gender Gap in Pay,” March 22, 2019.

2 Bankrate, Kelly Anne Smith, “Half of parents financially helping their adult children say it’s putting retirement savings at risk,” April 24, 2019.

3 U.S. Government Accountability Office, “Retirement Security: Women Still Face Challenges,” July 2012.

4 Center for American Progress, Sarah Jane Glynn, “The Rising Cost of Inaction on Work-Family Policies,” January 21, 2020.

5 The National Bureau of Economic Research Conference Report, “Women Working Longer: Increased Employment at Older Ages,” April 2018.

6 Urban Institute, “What is the Lifetime Risk of Needing and Receiving Long-Term Care Services and Supports?” April 4, 2019.

7 Merrill/Age Wave, “Widowhood and Money: Resiliency, Responsibility, and Empowerment,” 2018.

8 Ibid.


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