Women's History Month: Tips for Women to Prepare for Retirement

Posted on 03/19/24 by Mandy Stanage Shoptaw

During Women's History Month, it is crucial to acknowledge the strides women have made toward equality in our country. The disparities in financial equality can still be seen, however, which makes it even more important for women to take the time to educate themselves on financial literacy topics. In my early twenties, I vividly remember a conversation with my grandmother. She told me to always make sure my name was on property and to have my own money. What initially was meaningful advice was later recognized as wisdom my grandmother gained from her first-hand observation of women’s progression and their ability to become financially independent. You see, my grandmother, Ina LeCroy Stanage, was born in 1926 and passed away in 2022. Her mother, Ruby Lloyd LeCroy was born in 1896 and lived to be 80. During my grand- and great-grandmothers' lifetimes, they witnessed some incredible strides forward for women.

The author's grandmother in her 1960s kitchen talking on a phone.
Circa 1960s, Ina LeCroy Stanage in her home kitchen which doubled as the family's office.

Let’s review some key dates that advanced women’s financial rights:
1920 - 19th Amendment: The 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified, granting women the right to vote.

1963 - Equal Pay Act: The Equal Pay Act was signed into law by President John F. Kennedy, prohibiting wage discrimination based on gender.

1974 - Equal Credit Opportunity Act: The Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) was passed, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex (among other factors) in the extension of credit.

1988 - Women's Business Ownership Act: This legislation eliminated state laws requiring women to have a male relative co-sign business loans and opened up more opportunities for women in entrepreneurship.

2009 - Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act: The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was signed into law, easing the requirements for filing pay discrimination lawsuits and allowing more time for individuals to seek remedies.

While I am grateful to live in a time when women have more financial independence, one only has to look back to see how recent this history truly is. Let us place this into a more modern perspective, I was born in 1974, the year the Equal Credit Opportunity Act was passed. I was in eighth grade when the Women’s Business Ownership Act went into effect, and I was mom to a six-year-old when the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act passed.

The author and her grandmother in 2017; two women look at the camera.
The author and her grandmother in 2017.

What can you do to strengthen your financial literacy as a woman?

Educate Yourself: This is something we can help with! AARP Arkansas continues to provide outreach opportunities throughout the year to share knowledge about planning for retirement, Social Security benefits, and more. Our latest events are posted on our website. The AARP website is filled with wonderful free resources too.

It is Never Too Early: One of the most powerful tools for retirement planning is being proactive in your younger working life. How much should you save? AARP's 401k Calculator is a great place to start when it comes to setting realistic retirement goals.

Consult an Insurance Expert: Is long-term care insurance right for you? Women, who often live longer than men, may face increased healthcare costs in retirement.

Social Security Strategies: A significant aspect of retirement planning for women is optimizing Social Security benefits. Stay up to date on the latest Social Security information, such as claiming age and marital status, through the AARP website.

Pre-planning: Estate planning is important for everyone and as we have discussed in our previous blog on women as caregivers. You do not want to leave your loved ones in a bind. Review the documents in our Prepare to Care guide for information on wills, trusts, and other essential documents to safeguard financial interests and healthcare wishes.

Financial literacy is important across the board, but especially for women. Understanding the basics of investing, budgeting, and retirement savings is the first step toward a secure future.

This story is provided by AARP Arkansas. Visit the AARP Arkansas page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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