MONEY retirement planning

Why Same-Sex Families Lag Straight Families on Retirement Savings

A new survey finds that gays and lesbians with kids have about 20% less socked away than straight couples.

Same-sex couples with kids lag behind their heterosexual peers in funding retirement savings accounts, found an Allianz study released this week.

Gay and lesbian couples with kids had an average of $210,700 in their retirement accounts, compared with $251,100 for heterosexual couples with children. (Meanwhile same-sex families without kids lapped both groups, with $310,700.)

This disparity becomes even more significant, though, when you consider the median ages of these couples. The average age of a person in the same-sex families with kids surveyed was 50, and a third of the spouses were already past that age. Their straight counterparts average 45, and only about 1 in 4 are over 50. What that means is that same-sex families have less time to play catch-up with their savings before they hit retirement age.

One possible reason why these couples may have less saved, according to Katie Libbe, vice president of consumer insights for Allianz: About two thirds of same-sex parents are female. “It’s the glass-ceiling issue,” Libbe adds. “Women tend to have lower wages, and thus can’t afford to put away as much for retirement as males can.”

The study did also find that the average household income for a same-sex parent family is about $10,000 less than for a straight family.

An Employee Benefit Research Institute study from May of this year supports Libbe’s theory, as well. The research found that women were just as likely to put away money for retirement as men, but that the total amount in their retirement savings account tended to be about $58,000 less.

New York City financial planner Jennifer Hatch, who specializes in wealth management for gay and lesbian couples, says there isn’t anything unique that same-sex couples should do to plan for retirement. “If they want to build up their savings, they should max out their 401(k) and IRAs,” says Hatch, “and strive to save 25% of their annual income, which I know is hard, but focus on making small cuts to your consumption to boost the amount available for saving.”

For more retirement strategies, see our Ultimate Retirement Guide.

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