Women’s retirement outlook may have declined apace with the rise in the divorce rate — but no one can deny they often face greater financial challenges than men when it comes to planning for the future.
Lower average salaries make it difficult for women to achieve suitable nest eggs — and this is exacerbated for those who take on motherhood and take maternity leaves or longer reductions in the amount of time worked.
Results from the recent Transamerica “Retirement Survey of American Workers” highlight the anxieties that women face.
Sadly, only 12 percent of women are “very confident” in expecting a comfortable retirement.
Some 81 percent are concerned that Social Security will not be available when they retire, while 30 percent expect Social Security to be their primary source of retirement funds.
Almost two-thirds (64 percent) have no backup plan if they must retire sooner than they expected. More than half (54 percent) of women plan to delay retirement beyond age 65, or do not plan to retire at all.
These findings mirror the previous Transamerica survey in showing women’s retirement attitudes and well-founded concerns.
Along with recent polling results, Transamerica offers the following nine steps that women can take to increase their chances of a comfortable retirement.
1. Have a Retirement Strategy
If you don’t know what you want to do in retirement, how can you know how much money you’ll need? Lay out your goals to help you get a reasonable estimate of your required nest egg.
2. Get Into the Savings Mindset
It’s easy to look at other needs and ignore retirement savings, thinking you can save for retirement later. By putting off or limiting your savings in the early working years, you miss out on the effects of compounding.
3. Take Advantage of Employer Plans
Put away as much as you can into any employer-based retirement program, especially when your employer matches contributions. At the very least, contribute up to the matching limit. Matching programs are as close as you can get to free money.
4. Weigh Your Options
Women often adjust their careers to match family circumstances – delaying or modifying their working hours and conditions to raise children, taking care of aging parents, or handling other family duties. Balance your financial needs with your collective family obligations.
5. Stay Educated
How much do you know about investment strategies for retirement? Plenty of resources are available to help you get the most out of your retirement investments and set up a withdrawal strategy to produce a steady stream of retirement income.
6. Stay Financially Involved
Don’t defer financial decisions and strategies to other family members. Contribute to the family budget discussions and make sure that your retirement needs are part of the collective family plan.
7. Have a Contingency Plan
Life seldom goes as planned. What would you do in the case of the loss of your spouse, a disability, or a significant medical issue? Do you have sufficient insurance? Where would you cut expenses? It’s often depressing to think about these things, but it’s irresponsible not to think of them at all.
8. Consider Employment Options
If you’d like to work beyond your full retirement age – or think you may need to – keep your job skills up-to-date. Consider any skills you may need to transition into a second career, a part-time job, or a hobby/skill that you could monetize.
9. Maintain Healthy Habits
Limit your medical costs by living a healthy lifestyle – proper diet, regular exercise, good stress management, regular sleep, and avoidance of harmful activities. Regular checkups are also important. Don’t let a busy lifestyle lead you to ignore symptoms.
Few things are more empowering than a secure retirement. Go into your retirement years with confidence – but take steps now to build that confidence. You’ll be glad that you did.
Regardless of where you plan to retire, the number one factor in ensuring that you can retire on your terms is your 401(k).
This article was provided by our partners at moneytips.com. Photo ©iStockphoto.com/adrian825
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