BLOG: ‘Sandwich Generation’ women’s finances too thinly spread
Most, unfortunately, make for pretty depressing reading. Women struggle to manage debt. Women are massively underinsured. Women lack confidence when it comes to investing.
But one email left me feeling particularly disheartened. It came from insurance firm Aegon and said that ‘sandwich generation’ women – those aged 40-59 – face a triple whammy of low private pension savings, low state pension and the gender pay gap.
Figures from the TUC last week revealed that women have barely half the pension savings as men.
Aegon’s own research found that 45% of 40-59 year old women don’t have a retirement action plan at all and more than half (53%) will rely on their partner for financial support in retirement.
Regarding the State Pension, millions of women in their late 50s and 60s have been affected by changes to the State Pension Age and will have to wait longer than they thought to claim it.
As for the gender pay gap, MP Maria Miller, chair of a parliamentary select committee set up to scrutinise gender equality, told The Guardian it remained a particular problem for women over 40 because of a “lack of quality part-time work and a lack of effective shared parental leave policies”.
It would be easy to take the ostrich approach to these problems, but the good news is there are some practical steps women can take to improve the outlook for their retirement income, according to Aegon.
The first is to get informed.
If you’re over 50, ask for a New State Pension statement and find out when you’ll be eligible to start claiming it. Ring 0345 3000 168 or go to gov.uk.
Find out how many years National insurance Contributions you have from HMRC. Under the new rules coming in on 6 April, you’ll need 35 years of NI contributions to get the full State Pension. If you’ve had career breaks you can top up your contributions before you reach State Pension age.
Other things you can do include staying automatically enrolled in your employer’s pension scheme and benefiting from tax relief on your contributions and your employer’s contributions, and consolidating all your pensions in one place.