3 Important Retirement Planning Steps for Single Women
There are more than 55 million single women in the United States, and new research shows that those women may face unique challenges that single men aren’t as likely to encounter. A study from the National Institute on Retirement Security found that women age 65 and older are 80 percent more likely than men to be in poverty in retirement.1
The study points to a number of factors contributing to this finding. However, one of the biggest may be the ongoing wage gap that exists between men and women. Whether through actual lower wages or due to the obligation to take time off to raise children, many women continue to earn less than men. Those reduced earnings often directly lead to reduced levels of savings and lower employer contributions to retirement plans.
If you’re a single woman approaching retirement, it’s important that you are aware of the challenges you may face. By identifying those challenges today, you can develop an action plan to protect yourself and your finances in retirement. Below are three planning steps that are important for all retirees, but especially important for single women:
Create a detailed income projection and budget.
Data and information can be your most valuable assets when planning your retirement. The more information you can accumulate and organize, the more prepared you’ll be in retirement.
In particular, you’ll want to focus especially on your retirement income and expenses. It’s often helpful to create a retirement income projection, in which you list all of your income sources and estimate the amount of income you’ll receive from each source.
You also may want to create a retirement budget, in which you list all of your possible expenses, again with estimated figures. When you’re done, compare the projected income with your total projected expenses.
Do you have more monthly income than expenses? If so, you may be in good shape. If not, you might need to either cut back on spending, work and save longer, or consider part-time work in retirement. Your projected income statement and budget can help you make these decisions.
Maximize your guaranteed income.*
Many married couples have the benefit of dual incomes, which usually also means they have dual savings plans and two sources of employer retirement contributions. That naturally gives them a savings advantage over single people, particularly women.
If you don’t have as much personal retirement savings as you would like, you may need a higher amount of guaranteed income*, such as pension payments or Social Security benefits. You can increase your Social Security payments by delaying benefits as long as possible, up to age 70. Also, if you’re divorced, you may want to look into claiming benefits based on your ex-husband’s Social Security earnings, as that benefit could be higher than your own.
You also may want to explore ways to convert some of your savings into a guaranteed income* stream. There are various types of annuities that can help you do just that. More guaranteed income* may reduce your vulnerability to market swings and volatility.
Develop a health care safety net.
Fidelity recently found that the average 65-year-old couple can expect to spend $245,000 out of pocket in retirement on health care expenses like premiums, deductibles, copays and more.2 That figure does not include costs for long-term care, which can also be sizable.
You may not be part of a couple, but you will still likely face significant medical expenses as you age. Without a spouse to help with care and support, you could become more reliant on health care professionals and in-home care providers.
Develop a strategy to pay for the level of care you want for yourself. Long-term care insurance may be an effective tool. Also consider maxing out your contributions to your health care savings account. It can help you pay for out-of-pocket expenses in retirement in a tax-advantaged manner.
For more information, contact us at Ambrose Financial & Insurance Services in Walnut Creek, California. We welcome the opportunity to help you develop and implement a sound retirement strategy. Let’s connect and start the conversation today.
*Guarantees, including optional benefits, are backed by the claims-paying ability of the issuer, and may contain limitations, including surrender charges, which may affect policy values.
Ambrose Financial and Insurance Services, LLC does not offer legal or tax advice. Please consult the appropriate professional regarding your individual circumstance.
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