Women are 80 percent more likely to live in poverty in retirement than men. To combat this savings shortfall, AARP and the Ad Council have launched the "We Say Save It" campaign to help women save more for retirement.
The campaign name has another meaning. It encourages women to say “Save it” to those who offer old-fashioned (and incorrect) information, such as “Women aren’t good with money.” “That false narrative does not line up with the strength women show every day,” says Mary Liz Burns, communications strategies director at AARP. “Whether it be juggling family and finances during the pandemic or taking on new challenges, women always find a way to rise to the occasion. Now is the time to focus on their financial futures, and we’re here with resources and support along their journey.”
Women and retirement
Poverty hits women in retirement harder than men. For example, the average Social Security benefit is a modest $1,555 a month. Among retirees who draw Social Security benefits, 42 percent of women get more than 50 percent of their income from Social Security, compared with 37 percent of men. Fifteen percent of women rely on Social Security for 90 percent of their income, compared with 12 percent for men.
The pandemic has only made things worse. Women are more likely to say that their financial situation is worse than it was a year ago, and with good reason. More than 1 in 5 women (22 percent) prematurely dipped into their retirement savings or stopped contributing altogether since the COVID-19 pandemic began, jeopardizing their retirement security.
And although 86 percent of women say that achieving financial security in retirement is very important to them, just 33 percent think they are very likely to do so.
One reason women are struggling with retirement is that they tend to earn less than their male counterparts. But another reason is that women have long been given antiquated advice about money, says Michelle Hillman, chief campaign development officer at the Ad Council. “This latest iteration of the Saving for Retirement campaign focuses on shutting down negative and false stigmas related to women and money, with the goal of urging women to take action and utilize the helpful resources offered on WeSaySaveIt.org, to better prepare for their retirement.”
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It’s never too late to save, and even small steps in saving can make a big difference in your retirement. The public service announcements that are part of the campaign urge women to save 2 percent of their income for retirement, or to save 2 percent more than they are currently saving.
The messages also tell women where they can get help figuring out how to save more for retirement. Of those women who plan to work on their finances over the next 12 months, nearly 73 percent expect to reach out for financial information.
AARP offers numerous online resources for women and men who want information about saving for retirement, including a free online three-minute chat with “Avo,” a digital retirement coach that offers users a free personalized action plan for retirement saving. WeSaySaveIt.org, a site developed by AARP, offers additional resources to help women boost their retirement savings.
Since its July 2017 launch, AARP and the Ad Council’s Saving for Retirement campaign has received over $90.6 million in donated media support. Hundreds of thousands of people have chatted with Avo on the campaign’s website, resulting in more than 335,900 personalized retirement savings action plans.
John Waggoner covers all things financial for AARP, from budgeting and taxes to retirement planning and Social Security. Previously he was a reporter for Kiplinger's Personal Finance and USA Today and has written books on investing and the 2008 financial crisis. Waggoner's USA Today investing column ran in dozens of newspapers for 25 years.