Americans as a whole are unprepared for retirement, with 34 percentadmitting to zero savings and 35 percent saying that yeah, they’vesaved, but haven’t gotten to $1,000 yet.

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But for women, the situation is worse than it is formen—and, according to a report from NerdWallet, they’ve got some prettyhefty obstacles to climb over on their way to retirementsavings.

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Related: How much should employees save forretirement?

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Men have bigger account balances, put away more money overallthan women and have other resources to draw on, while women have tocombat a laundry list of handicaps to make sure they won’t beliving on the street and eating cat food when they finallyretire.

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The sad thing is that women are actually better investors thanmen, reports Money.

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According to a Fidelity Investments survey, female investorsoutperformed males last year by 0.3 percent, and if that’s notenough, the firm’s research actually found that for the last 10 years they’ve done the same.

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Related: 3 big trends driving retirement planningin the 'new normal'

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Investment tracking app Openfolio backed that up with findingsfor the last three years—since it began tracking results—that womenoutperformed men.

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Women also take on less risk and don’t trade as often as men,which cuts into men’s returns.

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In fact, during the 1990s, Terrance Odean, a professor atBerkeley's Haas School of Business, found that men traded 45percent more than women. He cited male overconfidence as thecause.

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So if women are such great investors, why don’t they have moremoney saved for retirement? Here are 7 reasons women need to uptheir game to protect themselves in retirement.

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Women are more likely than men to lack confidence in making financial decisions. (Photo: iStock)

7. They lack confidence.

According to Vanguard, 73 percent of women employees participatein retirement plans, while only 66 percent of men do.

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Their dire straits at retirement aren’t due to a lack ofeffort.

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But although women are proactive about participating inretirement savings plans—when they have the opportunity, thatis—they often lack confidence about investing and that can makethem stick to too-safe investments.

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And while safety is, of course, a good thing, that cuts down thereturns they can make on their investments.

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Reading up on the principles of investing and the rules ofretirement plans can lay this problem to rest, enabling them to bemore proactive about how, and how much, they save.

6. They have lower salaries to save from.

Men’s average 401(k) balances are more than 50 percent higherthan the average for women, according to a 2015 Vanguard study.

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It’s that old glass-ceiling effect again, and according to arecent NerdWallet study, to build a comparableretirement fund, the average American woman must invest theequivalent of $1.25 from her wages for every $1 the average maninvests.

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One way to get a jump on that is to start as early as possible,even if it’s small.

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And to get the most bang for the buck, they need to do as muchas possible to at least make sure they get 100 percent of anyemployer matching funds provided in a 401(k) plan.

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Women face more obstacles than men in saving for retirement. (Photo: Getty)

5. They’re plagued with indecision.

Because many women lack a strong understanding of the morearcane ramifications of finance, they can be plagued withindecision about whether to choose this investment or that, orwhether to roll over a 401(k)—or even whether to open a Roth.

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And, human nature being what it is, this can result inprocrastination, leaving them decisionless about when to increasecontributions, how to allocate them, or even when to join aplan.

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A determination to take action, coupled with a thoroughunderstanding of the educational materials provided by a retirementplan, can help them make (better) choices instead of postponingthem for another day.

4. They have less access to retirement accounts.

Not only are women working for less pay, but because of theirproclivity to have children and care for elderly relatives orperhaps finish a degree later in life than they might have chosen,they don’t always have jobs that even offer retirementaccounts.

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The need for flexibility in the work schedule for caregiving(assuming they can still work while providing care) can restrictthem to part-time or lower-paying jobs that offer few, if any,benefits.

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And that’s not accounting for all the un- and underemployedpeople, including in the gig economy, who simply can’t findanything else.

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That means they’ll have to be even more proactive and open anIRA, then stretch that income to cover not just regular expensesbut retirement savings, too—yet another challenge to meet.

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And IRAs aren’t exactly at the top of their list; IRS figuresindicate that the average end-of-year fair market values for IRAswere nearly $63,000 more than for women.

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The good news is, women live longer than men; the bad news is, women live longer than men. (Photo: AP)

3. They live longer.

Women live longer than men, so they have to make their moneystretch farther.

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And even though Vanguard says women put 7 percent of theirsalary into retirement savings while men only save 6.8 percent,thanks to the glass ceiling syndrome, that’s just not going to cutit.

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According to a report from Yale Insights, while women may keepthat longer lifespan (about 2½ years) in mind when planning forretirement, married women probably don’t consider that whilethey’re likely to outlive their husbands, they probably will do soby considerably more than 2½ years.

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The report cites Social Security and LIMRA data indicating that“if a husband and wife retire at the same time (the husband at 65and the wife 63), after the first spouse passes away, the secondspouse is likely to live about eight years.”

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However, it adds, “Fifteen percent of the ladies are going tolive 20 years or more after their spouse dies.”

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And in 2014, according to the Social Security administration,nearly half of elderly unmarried women receiving Social Securityrelied on those benefits for 90 percent or more of theirincome.

2. They’ll need more money for health care expenses.

Women not only live longer than men, they usually end upalone—which means that if they need care during ill health, they’llprobably have to hire someone to provide it. (They’re usually thecaregivers for spouses who fall ill late in life, but there’sseldom anyone available to provide “free” care to them when they’rethe only ones left.)

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And that will eat up retirement money faster than anythingelse.

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Women are most likely to be the ones who leave the workforce to take care of others -- losing the chance to add to their employer-sponsored retirement plan. (Photo: iStock)

1. They take time off from the workforce.

The Yale report poses this question: “Let’s say that a man and awoman both graduate from the Yale School of Management, and theyeach get a great new job (of course they do). They start with thesame education, at the same company, at the same pay; their defaultinvestment will put them on their way to saving forretirement.”

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However, “If the man saves 10 percent of his income, for thewoman to have the same amount of savings at the moment ofretirement, she literally needs to save 18 percent—a factor of1.8.”

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This is assuming women are starting on an equal financialfooting with men—which they’re not.

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And, since women do take time off from the workforce to havechildren or provide care, they’re not only not saving as much aswhen they’re working, they’re not saving anything.

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To reinforce that, bear in mind that recent IRS estimatesindicate that on average, men contributed about 22 percent more toindividual retirement accounts of all types in 2014 than women.

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