Barbara Kim Stanton
Hawai‘i Herald Columnist

When it comes to retirement, men and women are not equal.

In Hawai‘i, older women are 57 percent more likely than older men to live in poverty, according to a recent University of Hawai‘i study. It’s not because women are not as smart with money as men. Rather, it’s because women face challenges that most men do not.

Women live longer — an average of six years more than men in Hawai‘i. That means they need to save more. But they are more likely to leave the workplace early to take care of children or aging parents. And then there’s the wage gap: Women make 83 cents for every $1 that men earn. All of that affects how much they can save for retirement.

That’s why AARP Hawai‘i is hosting the “Women and Money: Secure Your Future” conference on Saturday, July 14, at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i. The conference runs from 8 a.m. to noon. There is a $5 workshop fee and a $6 charge for validated parking at the JCCH.

“Women have to be stronger and bolder to ask for what they want or what they need and what they should get,” said Roberta Lee-Driscoll, a certified financial planner and one of the conference speakers.

“People who come are going to learn about budgeting, how to get better jobs, about investing and estate planning,” she said. “If people don’t understand some of the basic premises of planning and budgeting, they may not be using their savings to their fullest capacity. It’s really hard to know what choice to make if you don’t have basic knowledge.”

The problem of older women and poverty is significantly greater for single women, who are three times more likely than married older women to be living in poverty here, according to the UH study.

Divorce, along with the wage gap, may play a role in that — women typically get fewer assets and more responsibility for childcare. Women are also less likely to have pensions, retirement savings plans and asset income than men.

Social Security is another indicator of the retirement gap. Women are more dependent on Social Security than older men (40 percent versus 29 percent) and get less in Social Security benefits ($12,596 compared to $15,158 for men), according to the UH study.

The conference will cover Social Security and Medicare with advice geared toward women.

Certified financial planner Joanna Amberger will share tips — including teaching women how to be more confident in salary negotiations. She also advises that women limit the amount of financial help they give to their children as well as how much they spend to make themselves feel good.

Men can come to the women and money conference, too, but Driscoll likes that the target audience is women and the unique challenges they face.

“When it comes to money, men are often more confident in talking about it, so they tend to dominate group discussions. At this conference, women will be surrounded by other women in a supportive environment so they can get the answers they want.”

To register for the “Women and Money: Secure Your Future” conference, call 1-877-926-8300 or go to

Barbara Kim Stanton has been the state director of AARP Hawai‘i since 2005. She writes about living a life of real possibilities, where age is not a limit and experience equals wisdom.


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