Maybe It’s Time to Let Your Wife Drive

Smiling young woman driving a car.

No, I’m not saying it really is time to turn over the keys to your car. Granted, the next generation has already figured out that “sharing the driving” isn’t a bad idea. What I AM saying, is the new generation may have discovered that the BEST resource for retirement planning is NOT the guy wearing the pants. If this offends you, talk to your kids. They’ve already figured it out.

A recent study by DailyWorth reports that 76% of women are the main retirement planner in their household. Okay, hold up. How is this possible? No, I’m not saying that women will prevent the next (inevitable) financial disaster. Nor am I implying that women always do the right thing with money all the time. More women investing is a good thing for all of us.

There are always two distinct viewpoints when a couple enters my office with the fear of financial peril on their faces. Both are understandably frustrated meeting another financial advisor who could, yet again, leave them disappointed, frustrated about their retirement forecast and just plain resigned that anything is going to make any difference.

However, the male viewpoint is often blind to the risk of hanging in there to score big before the game is over. Maybe it’s the testosterone, or maybe it’s just poor judgment. Maybe it’s just the thrill of possibly outsmarting the rest of society. “Yes, maybe I can get that last 5% out of the market before I declare I’m down on my bets!” Or, if you’ve never been in a casino, “It’s time to lock in my gains.”

The female viewpoint is a little more cautious about potential financial peril. In general, women will actually look at the map when driving and are willing to ask for directions. It seems this is true for both driving and planning retirement. The more grounded and pragmatic investors there are, the better. On a micro-scale, more women making key financial decision for their families could mean fewer investors taking on high-risk mortgages, high-risk investments, and fewer households overextending themselves when it comes to retirement. Treasury Secretary Geithner’s quote this past April says it all: “Most financial crises are caused by a mix of stupidity and greed and recklessness and risk-taking and hope… You can't legislate away stupidity and risk-taking and greed and recklessness.”

Somewhere between the bank and the stock market lives a little-known fact that can appeal to both men and women investors. Fixed Index Annuities offer accumulation potential based on growth in a market index, while receiving protection during downturns. That’s because Fixed Index Annuities are insurance products, so they are protected from losing principal and credited interests as a result of any market downturn. Yes, it’s true that Fixed Index Annuities involve surrender charges, which may result in loss of principal, if the contract is surrendered prematurely. This, in fact, needs much consideration. However, if your intent for this money is to create a long-term income stream, a Fixed Index Annuity may be the perfect vehicle for you.

For those testosterone-driven investors, returns capped at 3 to 18% (based on allocation options) may not be very appealing, especially given the lack of any risk from market downturns. But you know what is appealing? Being able to sit around with your friends and boast that you never lost a nickel when the next market drop happens. And then casually throwing in to the conversation that you and your spouse have secured a guaranteed income you will never outlive.

Fixed Index Annuities vary greatly, and, much like any great decision in your life, you want to sit down with a knowledgeable professional before making any decisions. Being educated on your options is the first step in creating your successful retirement.

I get it. Men don’t like to stop and ask for directions. I certainly don’t. But, when a woman does finally insist, it’s amazing how much faster we get to where we’re going.