By Joanne Poh , MoneySmart.sg
Ladies, listen up—while your male counterparts are often fretting about how they’re expected to be the chief earners in the household or wondering how to impress girls with what’s in their wallets, you too have to something to worry about. In fact, there is evidence to show that women need to be even more worried about retirement than their male counterparts.
No matter how many times your friends tell you that women don’t have to worry about money as much as men, here are a few reasons you need to start stashing away some cash starting today, and not spending it all at Gucci and Prada.
Longer life expectancy
It is now an established fact that women have a longer life expectancy than men. Those of you who are ethnic Chinese might be tempted to cheer, as the culture tends to be obsessed with longevity.
Unfortunately, in Singapore where 2/3 of the citizens don’t believe they can retire at their desired age, living longer simply means having to toil longer, since your retirement savings will have to be spread out over more years.
Women in Singapore have a life expectancy of 85 years, while men can expect to live to 80. That means you’ll need to make sure you have enough money to last you an extra 5 years, which is quite a significant amount.
Women get paid less than men
While women in Singapore have some of the highest labour force participation in the world, there is still a significant wage gap. Based on 2014 statistics, women were earning less than men in virtually all types of jobs except support services and clerical jobs, often over 10% less.
In addition, many women choose to stop working due to childrearing duties, which puts them at a disadvantage if and when they reenter the workforce.
Better work-life balance, encouraging family friendly practices and getting men to pull their weight in the home would definitely help, but at the moment women have to be prepared for the possibility of lower overall lifetime earnings than men.
So women are finding themselves in the position where they can reasonably expect to live longer than men, but earn less. That makes saving for retirement all the more daunting.
Less CPF savings
The current CPF system is bad news for women who are homemakers or have left the workforce for whatever reason. Unlike a pension scheme, the CPF system only benefits those who have been earning wages throughout their lives, the more the better.
This means that housewives might are effectively left with zero CPF contributions during the years they stay out of the workforce.
Add to that the fact that women earn less throughout their lifetimes than men, and it’s not hard to see why relying on the CPF system for retirement can be very dangerous for a woman.
While husbands and children can choose to make top-ups to a housewife’s CPF account, this is completely voluntary and leaves many women with the very real possibility of having no CPF savings.
This could surely be one of the reasons so many middle aged or elderly women choose not to get a divorce even when their husbands are clearly having affairs—the lack of financial security means there is no way they could survive on their own after having spent decades as homemakers and without a single cent in their CPF accounts.