As women take on retirement planning, they have a lot riding against them.
Study after study show that women earn less than men and typically take more time away from the workforce to care for children and aging family members. Women, more often, work part-time, making them ineligible for benefits such as job-sponsored retirement funds. And they usually live longer than men -- which means they need more money to support themselves as they age.
Once you add up those smaller paychecks, fewer benefits and extra golden years, by the time they reach retirement age, many women are unprepared to leave the workforce.
In fact, a 2018 study from the nonprofit TransAmerica Center for Retirement Studies found that only 12 percent of working women are “very confident” that they can eventually retire and live comfortably. It also found that 53 percent of women plan to work after age 65 or don’t plan to retire at all.
“Despite the progress made in recent decades in terms of higher levels of educational attainment and career opportunities, women continue to encounter financial risks that put them at a distinct disadvantage compared to men with regard to retirement security,” said Catherine Collinson, the center’s president, in a news release.
Outliving their savings and investments is women’s No. 1 retirement fear, according to the survey. Worries that Social Security benefits will be cut, they won’t be able to meet the basic needs of their families, their declining health will require long-term care and they won’t have access to adequate and affordable healthcare round out the list, according to TransAmerica.
But all is not lost. TransAmerica’s experts also listed ways women can take control of their retirement planning. Here are six tips for women who wonder if they’ll be able to make ends meet once they reach 65.
Talk about it
According to TransAmerica, only 13 percent of women “frequently” discuss saving, investing and planning for retirement. But talking about the topic with friends and family can help women identify new opportunities forsavings, spark action and set expectations going forward. So, start having those conversations.
Do the math
Do you know how much you will need to retire comfortably? The TransAmerica survey says many women simply guess the total amount, believing they’ll need about $500,000 saved up to retire financially secure. But more than half of women -- 55 percent -- arrived at that amount by simply guessing. TransAmerica’s experts recommend using a retirement calculator to land on the actual number.
Put together a retirement plan
And put it in writing, so you can mark down your goals and strategies moving forward. If you do this, you’ll be ahead of nearly half of all women, who say they have no retirement strategy at all. CESI Solutions Comprehensive Guide to Personal Finance includes a how-to section on planning for retirement.
Know what your spouse or partner is doing
Money can be a tricky subject for spouses and partners. Even still, it’s critical to take the time to chat with your spouse or partner about their own retirement savings. In TransAmerica’s survey, only 32 percent of women were “very familiar” with their other halves’ retirement and savings.
Take steps to work past 65
If working after the traditional retirement age is in your future, TransAmerica’s experts say it’s important to prepare yourself now for the future job force. Do well in your current job, keep your skills up to date, network, learn new skills and look ahead to future opportunities, they say.
Focus on your health
The sicker you are in old age, the more expensive your retirement will be, yet, only 22 percent of women are “very concerned” about their health as they near retirement. TransAmerica experts recommend taking steps like managing stress, getting regular physicals and health screenings, exercising regularly and avoiding harmful substances such as tobacco and alcohol as ways to help prepare for healthier retirement years.
Retirement might seem like years away, but that doesn’t mean you can put retirement planning off. It’s smart to start taking the steps now to ensure you can retire when you’re ready.
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