Nightly News   |  October 03, 2011

Baby Boomer women least prepared financially

Single women over the age of 60 are facing retirement, increasingly uncertain about their financial future. Some even say they can no longer afford to retire. NBC’s Chris Jansing has more.

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This content comes from a Full-Text Transcript of the program.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: Back now with tonight's installment of our ongoing series of reports about the American economy hitting home. Tonight, women and retirement and a very challenging financial picture for single women of the baby boomer generation in this country. According to the latest research they are the least prepared financially for their later years. Our report tonight from NBC 's Chris Jansing .

Ms. TERRY DEW: We're going to need some more needles.

CHRIS JANSING reporting: Terry Dew has been a nurse for 42 years, the last 12 at a school where many students have medical issues.

Ms. DEW: That doesn't look bad, Whitney .

JANSING: It's rewarding...

Unidentified Woman: Oh, look at that.

Ms. DEW: Oh -- wow.

Woman: Look at that.

Ms. DEW: One of my kids is in the hospital.

JANSING: ...and exhausting.

Ms. DEW: It's caught up with me. I would really like to slow down a little bit.

JANSING: But at 64, she has no big pension coming, no real savings. After a divorce with two small children she lived paycheck to paycheck.

Ms. DEW: I don't want to be dependent on anybody. That's my biggest fear.

JANSING: So now, she's not sure when she'll be able to retire. Terry lives here in Cleveland , but her story is playing out in neighborhoods across the country. Forty percent of boomer women, 17 million of them, are single. And for many, retirement is a financial time bomb just waiting to explode. Ad they head into retirement, a shockingly low 10 percent of women boomers have pensions; only 32 percent have 401(k)s.

Ms. JANE HAAS (Woman Sage Founder): It's very bad.

JANSING: Jane Haas advises single boomer women, many with little or no savings but an average life expectancy of 85 years.

Ms. HAAS: I don't think any generation of women has faced so many changes at one time.

JANSING: When Nan Crawford 's husband died she discovered they were in debt and had to borrow to pay for his funeral. So at 66 she's back at work in California .

Ms. NAN CRAWFORD: Little girls growing up are told get married, have children, take care of a house and a husband, and that's your future.

JANSING: Nan 's had career counseling and says she's happy to have found a job at all.

Ms. CRAWFORD: It's like going two steps forward and one step back. But you're know you're a little bit further ahead than you were yesterday.

JANSING: A generation that redefined what it is to be a working woman now wondering if a woman's work will ever be done. Chris Jansing , NBC News, Cleveland, Ohio.