The Elephant in the Room

Money is often a sore subject among women, especially since females are still overwhelmingly underpaid compared to their similarly qualified male counterparts. And when it comes to managing investments and long-term planning, many women lack confidence in their ability to get the job done. It's no wonder, then, that 61% would rather discuss their own death than delve into money matters with associates and friends, as per a recent report by Merrill Lynch and Age Wave.

Still, it pays for women to be more open about their financial needs and concerns, especially when it comes to retirement. That's because females generally live longer than men, and as such, they are more likely to be in a position where they're required to manage their families' wealth on their own. And the sooner they get the skills and confidence they need to pull that off, the more secure about money they'll feel.

Though near-term financial concerns are no doubt a problem for women, the real sense of worry tends to kick in when retirement comes into play. That's because women tend to outlive their male counterparts, and therefore generally need more money to fund their senior living expenses. At the same time, women typically earn less than men, so even though they're equally likely to participate in retirement plans, lower wages coupled with career breaks to raise children or care for family members put them at a glaring disadvantage.

In fact, the average woman will spend $194,000 more than the typical male on healthcare in retirement alone, due largely in part to the fact that many women outlive their spouses and therefore need to rely on long-term care in their later years. And that's a gap many women would rather gloss over than openly address.

Still, if your goal is to retire in a place of financial security, you'll need to get comfortable with the idea of talking money and getting a handle on your finances. Otherwise, you risk struggling financially at the worst possible time in life. As women we are collaborative by nature, so don’t be afraid to tap a group of trusted sources to raise your own financial intelligence so you feel more confident in your decisions when it comes to money.

Though money is hardly a comfortable thing to talk about out loud, if you're concerned about your future, it's imperative that you discuss it with the right people. This could include a trusted financial adviser who can help you navigate the ins and outs your retirement plan. With any luck, doing so will help put your mind at ease while giving you a solid plan of attack to secure a comfortable retirement.