Planning for retirement is an important part of financial planning for everyone, but women may have particular problems with this task. Women generally live longer, which means they need more money in reserve. Women should begin planning for the later years of their lives well in advance of retirement age to avoid facing a drastic change in their circumstances.
Though early retirement may seem tempting, women should try to work as long as possible to continue to put away funds for retirement. The older you are when you retire, the less funds you will need to put away for those non-working years. Working longer will also allow women to keep working at the higher pay scale for their experience on the job.
Often, women depend on their husband’s pension for income in their retirement years, but when a husband dies, pensions can be cut 50 percent. If possible in these difficult times, women should choose employment that offers a pension or generous retirement plan, even if it means that current salary is reduced somewhat.
Retirement plan contributions
Aim for a company that matches all or part of your contribution to the retirement plan and contribute the maximum amount each year, but even if your employer does not offer matching contributions, continue to put away as much as possible for retirement on a regular basis. Even small amounts can add up over time, so contribute as much as possible.
If women are divorced they are entitled to 50 percent of their previous husband’s social security if they have been married for 10 years, unless they remarry, in which case they must draw social security from the new husband. Women are allowed to choose whether they draw from their own social security account or their husband’s, whichever is more advantageous for them. In the event of the death of the husband, children under the age of 16 are eligible for benefits regardless of how long the marriage lasted.
Long-term care insurance
Though long-term care insurance may seem like a large expense at the present, it can be particularly important for women who may live long enough to experience debilitating illness in their older years. Medicare only covers short-term medically necessary care. It also offers very limited reimbursement for home care. Long-term care can provide custodial personal care for a number of tasks that older people may require, including help with dressing, helping with errands, cooking, cleaning and other personal care chores.
Though women face particular challenges in planning for retirement due to gaps in employment, they can make up for any disadvantages with careful planning and financial discipline.