Four retirement tips for women

in Business/Charles Schwab/Contributors by

By FRED GASKIN

I’ve had the pleasure of helping many members of our community with their investment needs as it relates to planning for retirement. Thankfully, there has been increasing effort put forward on providing better, and more tailored education resources to investors as they plan for their “golden years.”

Of interest, the data suggests the burden of retirement planning can be more challenging for women, because they face a unique set of circumstances when it comes to retirement planning. But being more aware of these challenges is the first step to helping to overcome them.

At Schwab, we generally highlight four key considerations to help women prepare for and be confident in their financial future. Keep in mind, this information should not be considered personalized investment advice or recommendations. Because each situation varies, it’s important to review for your own particular situation.

1. Women may have a lengthier retirement.

Women tend to outlive men by an average of five years, according to the National Center for Health in 2016. Though a longer retirement means more time to travel the world and spoil grandchildren, it also means women will have to save more money to last them through their longer lifespans.

Tip: Though you may want to gradually reduce your exposure as you get older, consider maintaining a portion of your savings in stock investments to help counteract the impact of inflation.

2. Women may have a more expensive retirement.

Not only do women have to plan for more years in retirement, but they often have to anticipate higher expenses. Longer life expectancies can translate into increased medical expenses and a higher likelihood of entering a nursing home or assisted living community, or hiring formal home care, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars a year.

Tip: Medicare benefits cover some medical costs during retirement, but consider signing up for supplemental insurance.

3. Women potentially have to save more to make up for earnings loss.

On average, women still earn lower salaries than their male counterparts. In 2015, women still earned only 80 cents for every dollar men earned, according to U.S. Census Bureau’s data for full-time, year-round workers’ median earnings released in September 2016.

Plus, over the course of their working years, women spend more time out of the workforce to care for their families, according to the AARP Public Policy Institute. To counteract the forces that are weighing on their ability to accumulate savings, women should focus on socking away as much as possible during the years they are working and earning an income.

Tip: Your level of savings is the biggest factor in determining whether you will meet your retirement financial goals, so start early.

4. Women may receive less in Social Security benefits.

Lower salaries and fewer years in the workplace also put women at a disadvantage when it comes to Social Security benefits. In fact, women earned on average about 20 percent less in Social Security than men in 2015, according to the Social Security Administration.

While this may be difficult to accept, women who may become widows due their longer life expectancies should consider how they can maximize their Social Security survivor benefits.

Tip: Consider delaying the start of your Social Security benefits.

Planning ahead is certainly the most valuable tip. There is never a bad time to start planning for your future, whether you’re 17 or 70.

A mistake many investors make is to delay action because they’re unsure about their specific goals, they worry that planning is too complicated, or they don’t know how to get started.

To them I say, “You can always change your mind, and your plan, but make it a goal in 2020 to get started on planning your future!”

Fred Gaskin is a Financial Consultant at Charles Schwab with over 30 years of experience helping clients achieve their financial goals.

Some content provided here has been compiled from previously published articles authored by various parties at Schwab. Where specific advice is necessary or appropriate, Schwab recommends consultation with a qualified professional. Investing involves risk including the potential loss of principal.