By Mary Harris, CFP®


We women live longer than men, and many of us will be on our own at some time in the future.  At age 65, we can expect to live another 20 years on average, and we will need to depend on ourselves more than ever to successfully navigate the retirement landscape.  Most of us cannot afford to make a major mistake and still ensure there will be time to recover.

The Pennsylvania-based American College of Financial Services conducted a retirement literacy study with 1,244 Americans age 60 – 74.  Startlingly, only 18% of the women surveyed were able to pass this quiz with a 60% score by answering correctly at least 23 of 38 questions focused on retirement topics.  The men did better, but still only 35% of men answered 23 or more questions correctly.


Other startling results from this quiz:

Only 34% of all respondents had a written financial plan, even though two-thirds reported having met with a financial advisor.

Women were more likely than men to want education on budgeting and investment management.

Women in the survey were more risk adverse than men, and less likely to invest in equities after a market downturn.  These traits may be linked to lower levels of confidence and lack of financial literacy.

Participants posted their lowest scores on questions about annuities, company retirement plans and long term care.


Try five of the 38 questions to see how you do (full quiz link is below):

  1. A 25% negative single year return in a retirement portfolio would have the biggest impact on long-term retirement security if it occurs:

A. 15 years prior to retirement
B. At retirement
C. 15 years after retirement begins
D. The timing doesn’t matter
E. Don’t know

  1. A retiree who is working part-time can generally continue to contribute to a Roth IRA.

A. True
B. False
C. Don’t know

  1. Nationally, who provides the majority of long-term care services?

A. Family members
B. Nursing homes
C. Assisted living facilities
D. Hospitals
E. Don’t know

  1. Historically, which one of the following generates the highest returns over a long time period?

A. Dividend paying stock
B. Large company stock
C. Small company stock
D. High yield bond funds
E. Don’t know

  1. Social Security workers’ monthly benefits are increased for each year that benefits are deferred from age 62 to age …

A. 65
B. 66
C. 70
D. 75
E. Don’t know


It’s one thing to desire financial education.  It’s quite another thing to actually secure it.

At Harris Financial Advisors, we provide personal financial education to clients and friends.  We instill confidence through advisor and client meetings and group educational events.  By closing the education gap, women can make informed, confident decisions and ensure their retirement years stay on a secure path.  Learn more at

Click here to take the full American College quiz.




Answers to above:   1. B,   2.A,   3.A,   4.C,   5.C