THE HEADLINE GRABBED my attention—because it seemed to speak to my situation: “Planning for Retirement: Women in Two-Income Households at Highest Risk.” The article suggested that women in their 50s in two-income households are at greater risk of being unable to maintain their preretirement standard of living when compared to single women and women in one-income households.
A big factor: Dual-income households tend to save a smaller percentage of their income compared with single-income households. The article also cited less-generous Social Security benefits for dual-income couples than for those with only one wage earner. In addition, the research found that two-income households tend to spend more on fixed expenses such as mortgages and car payments.
I don’t dispute the findings. As someone who in the past decade has been both single and married, I know I managed to save a larger percentage of my salary when I was single. That was because I chose to lower my standard of living, opting for an apartment and a used car, rather than owning a house and buying newer vehicles.
Where the study is flawed: It assumes I wouldn’t be willing to lower my standard of living again. When I leave working life behind, I’ll be willing to forgo certain luxuries. In planning for retirement, my husband and I don’t expect to maintain a dual-income lifestyle. Our goal is simply to have more time together doing activities we both enjoy.