Why men don't know jack about retirement
Withdraw 10% a year? Yikes! Guys, you've got more to learn than you think about long-range planning.
By Walter Updegrave, MONEY Magazine senior editor

NEW YORK (MONEY Magazine) -- Are men better retirement planners than women? They sure seem to think so.

When New York Life asked 1,002 retirees and pre-retirees to assess their grasp of retirement issues as part of a recent national survey, men thought they knew more than women did.

Care to hazard a guess as to whether that's wisdom or hubris? Well, as much as I hate to say it, after delving into the survey results, I have to admit that my gender's glowing self-assessment doesn't measure up to reality.

The good news, however, is that by focusing on the areas where men come up short, we can all improve our retirement planning.

Men don't take a long enough view

The biggest risk in retirement is that you will run out of money before you run out of time, which is why any good retirement plan must use realistic assumptions about how long your savings have to last.

Men seemed oddly out of touch on this issue.

Only 43% said they were concerned about having to fund retirement beyond age 85, compared with 57% of women. Granted, women have longer life spans, so you would expect them to be more aware of the need for truly long-term thinking.

But come on, guys. Today a 65-year-old man has about a 50% chance of living to 85, and a one in four shot at living to 92. If you figure your assets need only last to 85 and you live a lot longer, those extra years could be pretty grim.

To avoid that scenario, both men and women should plan on living to at least 90, and preferably to 95.

Men really hate to say "I don't know"

Figuring out how much you can pull out of your portfolio without depleting your savings too soon is one of the most complicated issues retirees face.

So it's not surprising that 51% of women said they didn't know how much they could safely withdraw every year.

And how many men made the same admission? Just 29%, which would be fine if the other 71% had a clue about what constitutes a realistic withdrawal rate. But most didn't.

Nearly half who ventured an answer felt they could spend 10% or more of assets each year, while another third thought 5% to 9% was appropriate.

In fact, to be reasonably confident that your money will last 30 years, you should start by withdrawing 4% in year No. 1, and then increase that amount for inflation each year.

Only one in six of the men who answered the question got it right.

Men have a hard time asking for help

Everyone knows that men refuse to ask for directions when they're lost. So it's no surprise that they are also less likely to seek retirement planning help: Just over half the men surveyed said they work with a financial adviser vs. 65% of the women.

True, not everyone needs an adviser. But if you concede that you may be winging it a bit in your planning assumptions, seek outside validation.

If you want more help but aren't interested in a long-term relationship with a planner, you can get advice on an hourly basis. Start your search at garrettplanningnetwork.com.

Confidence is great, but overconfidence is dangerous, especially in retirement planning. By the time you realize you didn't save enough or you've been pulling money out too quickly, it could be tough to repair the damage, no matter how skilled a planner you think you are.

Retire in style

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Sign up for Updegrave's weekly e-mail newsletter at cnnmoney.com/expert. E-mail him at longview@moneymail.comTop of page

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Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer LIBOR Warning: Neither BBA Enterprises Limited, nor the BBA LIBOR Contributor Banks, nor Reuters, can be held liable for any irregularity or inaccuracy of BBA LIBOR. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.