A Retirement Guide for Her
CFP Board’s Consumer Advocate Provides Retirement Planning Tips for Women
As we commemorate the countless women who beat the odds, shattered glass ceilings, and shaped history and society during Women’s History Month, the fact remains that many women still face an uphill battle, including in preparing for a financially secure retirement. Women must overcome obstacles to reaching their retirement goals that don’t exist for men, including longer life expectancy, shorter careers, lower pay, and a higher likelihood of living single during retirement.
“As women, we face unique and sometimes overwhelming challenges when preparing for the retirement that we envision,” says CFP Board’s Consumer Advocate Eleanor Blayney, CFP®. “Men are typically well ahead of women in terms of financial security and the resources they bring into retirement. Given this reality, women must plan with equal parts strategy and tenacity in order to reach our retirement goals.”
In her latest contribution to LetsMakeaPlan.org, Blayney recommends several key steps every woman should take to ensure that she is prepared for retirement.
- Prioritize her financial needs – Even ahead of children and elderly parents, a woman must ensure she is prepared financially for the future, making sure that her resources are not overextended or depleted. She should invest in a retirement plan before funding a college savings plan, or tap parents’ own assets for their care rather than paying out of her own pocket.
- Build her own retirement assets – When a woman is not working, she should still set aside funds for her future and in her name, separate from her spouse or partner. This can be done through spousal IRAs, or even in after-tax savings accounts.
- Invest in her skills – Having relevant and marketable skills affords valuable career opportunities and can ease reentry into the workforce for women who have been away for a time. Employment means participation in a retirement plan, building up more Social Security credits, and getting disability and long-term care insurance coverage.
- Pay attention to Social Security – There are two numbers she needs to be concerned about – 35 and 10. Her Social Security benefits are calculated on the highest 35 years of earnings and she is eligible for a spousal benefit as long as she has been married for at least 10 years.
- Increase investment risk – It’s important that she takes advantage of equity growth more than relying on the safety of fixed income, particularly in the early years of investing.
“Lastly, women shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help,” says Blayney. “No one – man or woman – should go about planning their retirement alone. A CFP® professional can be a trusted partner in growing and managing wealth and retirement savings, including investment advice and risk mitigation, helping retirement dreams become reality.”