These days it’s common to find women who balance family life with active careers. That’s why it’s important for working women to take an active role in planning for retirement.
According to the most recent information from the U.S. Department of Labor, females retiring at age 65 can expect to live another 19 years (three years longer than males retiring at the same age) but only 46 percent of women participate in a retirement plan.
Those statistics may make women feel insecure about their future, but with proper planning, women can feel more confident about their retirement years.
To start the retirement planning process, do your research. Find out about the retirement plans offered by your employer and your spouse’s employer. Does your employer or your spouse’s employer offer a defined benefit pension plan which will provide a fixed income after retirement? If so, investigate the payout options: How much income can you expect to receive? Is there a cost-of-living adjustment on the payouts? How are payouts reduced when providing income for a surviving spouse?
Does your employer or spouse’s employer offer some other type of retirement plan such as a 401(k) plan or Simple IRA plan? If so, how much can you contribute to the plan? How much does the employer contribute? And finally, what are the investment options?
Next, consider what you will receive from Social Security and what you will receive from Social Security when your spouse dies. To find out what your Social Security benefits will be when you retire, contact the Social Security Administration at 800-772-1213 or visit www.ssa.gov.
Having gathered your information, determine your retirement goals by estimating your living expenses at retirement. Make your short and long-term savings goals specific and achievable.
To accomplish this, first create an emergency fund to provide for your family in the event of a catastrophe. This includes a cash reserve large enough to cover three to six months of living expenses. Second, purchase life insurance to replace your income and provide for your family in the event of your death. You should also have a plan to manage your debt and to cover health care and disability expenses.
Also, consider making maximum contributions to your retirement plan with an individual retirement account (IRA). There are two types, traditional IRA and a Roth IRA. With a traditional IRA, contributions may be tax deductible and taxes are paid at retirement. With a Roth IRA, contributions are made with after tax dollars and the payout is tax-free at retirement.
The type of IRA that you fund depends on many factors, such as your taxable income and whether you or your spouse participates in another type of retirement plan. So, be sure to consult with your financial advisor about what type of plan is right for you.
Find a trusted advisor
After you’ve set your financial goals, what’s next? There are more choices for retirement savings today than ever before. And, with all the complex details involved with retirement planning, it’s important to seek professional advice from a financial advisor or tax professional.
These professionals should be knowledgeable, experienced and able to thoroughly analyze your needs and risk tolerance. Advisors should take the time to listen to you so they can understand your objectives and concerns before offering strategies. Be certain your advisors are thorough in explaining policies, coverages, investment options and costs.
The most important step in planning for your retirement is to put your plan into action immediately. Remember, even a little bit of savings can add up in a big way. Share your goals with your family and review them often. If things don’t happen as you originally planned, then refine your goals and action plan, and continue moving forward.
Today’s women have a lot of responsibilities balancing work and family life. But they can’t let that overshadow the need for retirement planning. By researching options, determining goals, finding trusted advisors and taking action, women can look forward to retirement knowing that their financial future is secure.
Mark Czachowski is the local Cotton States agent, an affiliate of Country Financial.