Planning for retirement is important for everyone, of course, but it’s especially critical for women. Why? Because studies have indicated that when compared to men, women often don’t save as much money for retirement.
According to a recent Vanguard report, the average 401(k) balance for women is about $75,000 while the average for men is about $123,000. The news is even worse for single women: About 40 percent of them have saved less than $1,000 for retirement, according to the 2016 Retirement Confidence Survey conducted by the Employee Benefits Research Institute and Greenwald and Associates.
In comparison, 34 percent of unmarried men have saved less than $1,000 for retirement, while just 22 percent of married women and 12 percent of married men have saved this small amount of money for retirement.
A report from the National Institute on Retirement Security found that the income of women age 65 and over is 25 percent lower than that of men of the same age. This gap widens to 44 percent for men and women age 80 and over. In light of these and other statistics, it’s not surprising that women are 80 percent more likely than men to be impoverished in retirement.
One of the ironic things is that while women in general are saving less money than men for retirement, they often face greater retirement risks than men do. For example, women tend to have longer lifespans than men, which means they may be left to support themselves in retirement after their spouse has passed away.
Bucking the Trends
So what can women do to buck these statistics and trends and help ensure that they will have a financially secure retirement? Here are 5 ideas:
1. Devise a plan. It all starts with planning. First, set some goals for your retirement, such as at what age you’d like to retire and what kind of lifestyle you want to live in retirement. Then estimate how much income you’ll need to support this lifestyle for a retirement that could last 20 to 30 years or longer.
Next, determine how much money you can save each month in a retirement account such as a 401(k). Arrange for this money to be automatically deducted from your pay and deposited into your account, or automatically transferred from your bank account into your 401(k). When it’s done automatically, you’re more likely to be consistent in making contributions.
2. Work together with your spouse in household financial planning. Often, wives leave the finances up to their spouses, including retirement planning. If the wife is widowed or divorced, she has no idea about the household budget, expenses, investments or savings accounts. Assume an equal partnership with your spouse when it comes to household financial planning, including saving for retirement.
3. Also plan independently from your spouse. At the same time, you should establish your own financial identity that’s separate and distinct from your spouse’s. For example, open and contribute to your own 401(k) or IRA in your name. This way, you’ll have something to fall back on if you suddenly find yourself widowed or divorced.
4. Monitor your plan regularly and make adjustments as necessary. Life circumstances change and your retirement plans may have to change with them. Therefore, it’s a good idea to take a fresh look at your retirement plan on an annual basis to see how you’re tracking against your goals. Market fluctuations could put you ahead of or behind the curve — be prepared to adjust your plans accordingly to help get you back on track.
5. Think about more than money. There’s more than just money involved in your retirement financial picture. For example, is your estate plan and last will and testament up to date? Are your life, health and disability insurance coverages adequate? You might want to consider purchasing long-term care insurance to help cover major assisted living or nursing home expenses after you retire.
If you have more questions about planning for retirement or need assistance, please give us a call. We’d be glad to assist you in devising a plan to help ensure a financially secure retirement.