Millennial women: Health takes a back seat to money

Given a choice between sound health and wealth in retirement, young women will go for solid finances.

Seven out of 10 millennial women say that having enough money to enjoy retirement is more important than being healthy through their later years, according to a survey from Schwab Retirement Plan Services.

In comparison, 30 percent of women said that their health later in life is the greater concern.

Despite suffering from a past heart attack and diabetes, Kentucky resident Mary Blair was able to receive medical coverage through Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

Luke Sharrett | The Washington Post | Getty Images
Despite suffering from a past heart attack and diabetes, Kentucky resident Mary Blair was able to receive medical coverage through Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

Schwab’s data is based on an online poll of 288 people, all of whom were current 401(k) participants aged 25 to 35.These individuals were surveyed in June.

About three in 10 of the women said that they think they will be working at age 70, compared to 22 percent of men who felt the same way.

“Women expect to have longer careers,” said Catherine Golladay, Schwab’s senior vice president of 401(k) participant services and administration.

Caring for others

One of the reasons why young women expect to spend more time on the job is because they have other responsibilities that pop up during their careers.

“The thing that they may be thinking about as they look toward the future, is the time that they’re spending outside of the workforce and their financial obligations, including student debt and caring for their relatives,” Golladay said.

Millennial men, meanwhile, were more evenly divided when choosing either health or money as their top priority in retirement.

Just over half of the young men said that their health was most important. Meanwhile, 46 percent of men surveyed said having enough money mattered most.

Longevity matters

Don’t forget that women are likely to have longer retirements than men, considering their greater life expectancies.

The average woman turning 65 can expect to live another 20.5 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The time frame is a little shorter for men who are celebrating their 65thbirthday, as they have 18 more years to go,according to the CDC’s data.

Lack of confidence

Schwab’s data also found that few millennials were confident about whether they are on the right path to a sound retirement.

About a quarter of the polled women said they felt “very” or “extremely confident” about the investment choices they themselves made in their 401(k) plans, compared to 57 percent of men.

However, professional investment guidance seems to make a difference for both men and women.

Three-quarters of the participants in both groups said they would feel “very” or “extremely confident” with investment advice in their plans.

“The best practice and most comprehensive solution is to make that investment advice automatic, especially for millennials,” Golladay said.

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