When our parents retired, living to 75 amounted to a nice long life, and Social Security was often supplemented by a pension. The Social Security Administration (SSA) estimates that today’s average 65-year-old woman will live to age 86½. Given these projections, it appears that a retirement of 20 years or longer might be in your future.
Are you prepared for a 20-year retirement?
How about a 30-year or even 40-year retirement? Don’t laugh; it could happen. The Society of Actuaries predicts that an average healthy woman that reaches age 65 has a 44% chance of living past 90, and a 22% chance of living to be older than 95.
Preparing for retirement can look a little different for women than it does for men. Although stereotypes are changing, women are still more likely to serve as caretakers than men are, meaning they may accumulate less income and benefits due to their time absent from the workforce. Research shows that 31% of women currently are or have been caregivers during their careers. Women who are working also tend to put less money aside for retirement. According to one report, women contribute 30% less to their retirement accounts than men.
These numbers may seem overwhelming, but you don’t have to be a statistic. With a little foresight, you can start taking steps now, which may help you in the long run.
Be proactive about your retirement.
Do you have clear, defined goals for what you want your retirement to look like? And do you know where your retirement accounts stand today? Being proactive with your retirement accounts allows you to create a goal-oriented roadmap. It may also help you adapt when necessary and continue your journey regardless of things like relationship status or market fluctuations.
Start with good questions.
How can you draw retirement income from what you’ve saved? How might you create other income streams to complement Social Security? And what are some ways you can protect your retirement savings and other financial assets?
Talk about money.
Nowadays, discussing money is less taboo than it’s been in the past, and it’s crucial to taking control of your financial future. If you’re single, consider writing down your retirement goals and keeping them readily accessible. If you have a partner, make sure you are both on the same page regarding your retirement goals. The more comfortably you can talk about your future, the more confident you may be to make important decisions when they come up.
Enlist a financial professional.
The right person can give you some good ideas, especially one who understands the challenges women face in saving for retirement. These may include income inequality or time out of the workforce due to childcare or eldercare. It could also mean helping you maintain financial equilibrium in the wake of divorce or the death of a spouse.
Make room for your future in your budget.
Adjust your budget to allow for retirement savings, just as you would for a new home or your dream vacation. Like any of your other financial goals, you may find it beneficial to review your retirement goals on a regular basis to make sure you’re on track.
If you are in your fifties, you have less time to make back any big investment losses than you once did. So, protecting what you have may be a priority. At the same time, the possibility of a retirement lasting up to 30 or 40 years will require a good understanding of your risk tolerance and overall goals.
Consider extended care coverage.
Women have longer average life expectancies than men and may require significant periods of eldercare. Medicare is no substitute for extended care insurance; it only covers a few weeks of nursing home care, and that may only apply under special circumstances. Extended care coverage can provide financial relief if the need arises.
Claim Social Security benefits carefully.
If your career and health permit, delaying Social Security can be a wise move. If you wait until full retirement age to claim your benefits, you could receive larger Social Security payments as a result. For every year you wait to claim Social Security past your full retirement age up until age 70, your monthly payments get about 8% larger.
Retire with a strategy.
As you face retirement, a financial professional who understands your unique goals and challenges can help you design an approach that can serve you well for years to come.
1. SSA.gov, 2021; 2. LongevityIllustrator.org, 2021. Life expectancy estimates assume average health, non-smoker, and a retirement age of 65; 3. Medicare.gov, 2021; 4. SSA.gov, 2021; 5. Transamerica.com, 2021; 6. GAO.gov, 2021
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The content of this letter does not constitute a tax or legal opinion. Always consult with a competent professional service provider for advice on tax or legal matters specific to your situation. To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed in this content, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing.
Published for the blog on April 27, 2022 by Searcy Financial Services, your Overland Park, Kansas Fee-Only Financial Planner and Investment Manager.