Don't Sabotage Your Retirement with Kindness

Women often put the needs of others first, especially when it comes to providing love and support for their family. Does that generosity put their own retirement savings and lifestyle in jeopardy?

For women who are helping loved ones financially, the threat to their own financial security is a real one. That's because many already face an uphill battle in saving enough for retirement.

In general, working women earn less, on average, than men over the course of their careers,1 so they have less money to save for retirement. Also, many take career breaks to provide care for children, aging parents and grandkids. This can cut into the time they have to sock away money in a 401(k) or 403(b) retirement savings plan or to benefit from any matching contributions their employer may offer. Finally, women live longer, on average, than men (86.7 years for a woman turning 65 this year versus 84.2 years for a man2), which means their savings will need to last longer, too.

How can women avoid shortchanging their retirement? Consider these three tips.

1. Take a Pause

Before you offer financial support to family members, consider your own situation. Do you have enough saved to retire comfortably? Will lending or giving money to others mean that you must cut back on your own retirement dreams? If so, look for other, nonfinancial ways to help.

2. Put Yourself First

The best gift you can give your loved ones is to focus on your own financial security – especially if providing financial support today means you could become a financial burden to them later. Sometimes saying "no" to a request for assistance is the wisest decision in the long run for you and your family.

3. Set Expectations

If you decide to give a loved one a hand, be clear about expectations. Are you giving the money outright or making a loan? If you're making a loan, set a realistic repayment schedule, discuss what will happen if your loved one doesn't repay the loan as agreed, and put it in writing.

When a family member asks for financial help, often the best answer isn't to rush in with money. Instead, look for ways to provide advice or emotional support. In the end, you'll be doing everyone a favor by fostering financial independence for your loved one – and yourself.

If you have questions, please call your Mutual of America Regional Office representative today.


Center on Education and the Workforce, Georgetown University,


Social Security Administration,

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