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WISER: Helping Women Focus on their Financial Future

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Planning for retirement is not an easy task. With jobs, bills, kids, mortgages and other financial commitments, the prospect of putting aside money for use years down the road can seem impractical.

With proper planning though and smart financial decisions, the road to securing a happy retirement does not have to be rocky, especially for working women who sometimes get lost in the financial shuffle.

The Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER) is an organization that is dedicated to improving the financial security and retirement prospects of women through advocacy and education. RewardExpert spoke with Lara Hinz, director of programs for WISER, about the strides that her organization has made in helping women plan for retirement.

Getting Started

WISER was founded in 1996 by its President, Cindy Hounsell, who was working as an attorney on pension rights issues when she noticed there was a need for good, basic, easily accessible financial and retirement planning information for women of any age and income level.

“To this day, the goal of the organization is to provide women with the information, resources and confidence they need to make smart financial decisions, no matter where they are on their journey to retirement,” said Hinz.

WISER helps women plan for retirement
WISER helps women plan for retirement

Accomplishments and Advice

Through WISER’s publications, programs, workshops and other events, the organization has helped hundreds of thousands of women plan for their retirement. In addition, WISER also operates the National Resource Center on Women and Retirement Planning with the Administration on Aging.

“Through this Center, WISER delivers workshops, webinars and presentations across the country, and we train leaders within our partner network to be able to reach out and educate women in their own communities,” stated Hinz. Presentations often include information on pertinent retirement topics including investments, 401ks, IRAs, Social Security and health care options.

Financial Challenges for Everyone

While almost everyone faces some challenges when planning and organizing their finances for their golden years, Hinz says there are unique issues that women experience throughout their lives that can make financial security in retirement even more challenging. These are the issues that lead women to having less in savings and pensions:

  • Women EARN LESS over the course of their lifetime.
  • Women are more likely to TAKE TIME AWAY FROM WORK for caregiving and other family responsibilities.
  • Women are twice as likely as men to WORK PART-TIME, which means not only less income, but often less access to other workplace benefits like health and retirement benefits.
  • Finally, women also LIVE LONGER than men on average, which means they also have a greater likelihood of LIVING ALONE at some point.

A financial planner can be a valuable resource at any stage as a result of these challenges, Hinz said. However, it is important to stay on top of the family finances at all times.

“Women greatly underestimate how long they might live, and this can negatively affect how prepared they are for retirement and the likelihood of living alone at some point,” she said. “Women should be taking an active role in understanding the family’s finances, investments and insurances now so that they are prepared should they find themselves solely responsible for managing it all one day.”

WISER offers financial advice, tools and publications to help women plan for their golden years
WISER offers financial advice, tools and publications to help women plan their future


WISER has a wealth of information that no woman should do without. It is a helpful place for any woman (or man who cares about that woman in his life) to seek useful resources in financial planning and retirement matters. As Hinz noted, “One statistic that always stands out to me is the fact that women make up 65% of the population, of those 85 and older.”

And this number is only increasing with longevity increases. Retirement truly is a woman’s issue since we are spending the most time there. So head over to WISER to see how you can help yourself prepare for what life may have in store.

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