Many men and women approach money management and financial wellness differently and this difference often extends to planning for retirement. From facing unique challenges to having a lower risk tolerance, women do not always have the same outlook or needs as men when it comes to saving for the future. If you’re not where you want to be on your retirement planning journey, don’t worry! Here are four steps every woman can take today to prepare for the road ahead:
- Understand the challenges
Saving enough for retirement can be challenging for anyone, but unfortunately, it can be even more difficult for women. On average, a woman turning 65 today can expect to live until approximately age 86.7, meaning a potentially lengthy retirement with greater expenses. Without proper planning, you may not have enough income to last as long as you do. In addition, women typically earn less than men, take more time away from work to care for children or elderly parents (sometimes simultaneously) and may have higher health care costs in retirement due to longevity. While these hurdles may feel overwhelming, understanding and preparing for them can help you diffuse the risks and determine the amount of savings you will need to meet your goals. Remember, the planning you do today will help determine how you live tomorrow.
- Get involved
While the tide is definitely changing, the traditional gender roles within financial planning can still run deep. Men typically take the lead when it comes to money management and spouses step aside; with 85% of women who defer to their husbands believe their spouses know more about financial matters. Since women are living longer than men, it’s crucial to be more engaged in long-term planning and ensure you have a well-thought-out retirement income strategy. If you’ve been hands-off up until now, there’s no time like the present to get in the game. Take time to get up to speed on your current finances, educate yourself through online resources and have a financial professional answer your questions. By making an effort to get involved, you will not only feel empowered, but you will play a vital role in securing your financial future.
- Envision your retirement
An important exercise in preparing for retirement is picturing what you want those golden years to look like and who you will be as a retiree. Connecting with your future self can bring the importance of financial planning to the foreground and inspire you to take care of the person you’ll one day become. Help plan for happiness by writing down who you want to be in 20 or 30 years, what your day-to-day life will look like, what activities you will be doing and who you will be spending your time with. By making the future less of a stranger and creating a detailed image of your life, you’ll likely become more of an advocate for your older self and take the steps necessary to create a retirement strategy that will work for you.
- Find a financial professional you respect and trust
Finding a financial professional you can go to for guidance can be an invaluable resource when planning for the future. When you connect with someone who you trust and has your best interest in mind, you are more likely to make confident decisions that have a lasting impact. Don’t hesitate to ask friends for a reference or talk to a few financial professionals before you find someone who is right for you. It’s important you feel open to ask as many questions as needed, have a clear voice in creating your retirement strategy and know that as life changes, you can update your plan as needed.
Retirement planning is a team effort and you are an essential member of that team. Find someone who is in your corner and who will show you how to turn your retirement dreams into reality.
While women face unique challenges, you don’t have to let those obstacles stand in your way. By taking steps to educate yourself, become involved and form your team of advocates, you will be on your way to creating a more financially secure retirement.