You’ll probably live longer than you think

Women often don’t score as well as men in surveys of financial literacy. One area where we seem to do better is “longevity literacy,” or understanding how long we’re likely to live.

Longevity literacy is essential to smart retirement planning. Overestimate your longevity, and you could retire too late or scrimp too much. Underestimate it and you could run short of money.

In a recent TIAA Institute study, 43% of women correctly estimated the life expectancy of 60-year-old women in the U.S. (The right answer was 85.) Only 32% of men chose the correct answer for the life expectancy for 60-year-old men, which was 82. Men also were far more likely than women to underestimate life expectancy — and that’s a huge potential problem for both sexes.

A man who expects to die in his 70s might draw too much from retirement funds or start Social Security too early. That could leave him — and the spouse who may outlive him — with too little income later on.

In my latest for the Washington Post, learn what you can do to protect against longevity risk.