Work or Retire Among women who intend to keep working, 85% cite financial reasons, but they’re also concerned about health issues. (Photo: Shutterstock)

More than half of women plan to keep working in retirement, or not retire at all, and a lot of the motivation is thanks to the financial challenges they face.

According to findings from the 18th Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey, only 12% of women in the workforce are “very confident” that they will be able to retire to a comfortable lifestyle—and 53% say they’ll keep working or not retire at all.

Among those who intend to keep working, 85% cite financial-related reasons for doing so. But they’re also concerned about health issues, with 71% also citing healthy-aging reasons (staying active, keeping their brains alert, having a sense of purpose, etc.) as reasons to continue working.

Not that they don’t dream about what retirement could look like, with 71% envisioning a future of travel, 61% spending more time with family and friends and 48% devoting themselves to hobbies they may not have time for while working. In addition, a substantial 28% are looking forward to a retirement filled with volunteer work, while 25% still focus on doing some kind of paid work; among the paying opportunities they envision are an encore career (11%), starting a business (9%) and continuing in their current field (9%).

Women are also preoccupied by financial and health fears, with 55% afraid they’ll outlive their savings and investments, 53% fearing that Social Security will be cut or eliminated altogether, 48% afraid they won’t be able to meet their families’ basic financial needs, 47% dreading ending up in long-term care and 42% fearing lack of access to adequate and affordable health care.

And while they are saving for retirement, short-term needs take priority, with 68% focused on paying off debt; credit card debt is the bugaboo of 46%, while 30% are paying on a mortgage, 18% student loans, and 16% shelling out for other consumer debt.

And while 51% say retirement saving is a priority, 58% say that building savings — not for retirement — is one of their top-of-list items. Scarily enough, 41% say their priority is “just getting by to cover basic living expenses.”

Among the 73% of women who are saving for retirement, in an employer plan and/or outside work, the median contribution is 7% of their pay — with median household retirement savings a paltry $42,000.

And they don’t have emergency savings. The median emergency savings accounts held by women only have $2,000 in them against a car or home repair, loss of a job or a medical emergency. More than a quarter — 27% — have less than $1,000 in that emergency account, and 26% don’t know how much they’ve saved.

— Check out ‘Financial Advisors’ May Tell Women Less About Insurance on ThinkAdvisor.