Many women are concerned about outliving their retirement resources, yet too many are ignoring the opportunities to do something about it now. And even the ones who think they know what their assets are have failed to do the math and calculate expected and unexpected expenses in retirement.
According to The MetLife Study of Women, Retirement, and the Extra-Long Life: Implications for Planning, women face different risks than men when it comes to planning for a secure retirement. More than half the women surveyed said they are concerned about outliving their funds and 61% said they didn’t think they had sufficient savings to last their anticipated lifetime.
So what is a woman to do? The study recommends a few different things.
• Take Responsibility. Has your spouse done all the financial planning until now? Women who are conscientious about their own finances can reduce the specific risks of being female. They should seek gender-specific advice and information and make sure they have input in financial decisions made for the couple. If the spouse or partner is reluctant to share in the planning, women must ask them to commit to equal involvement and shared information and calculations from now on. A joint strategy that serves the interest of both parties should be the goal.
• Have a Plan B. Think about various “what-ifs” but don’t obsess about them. Always plan for expenses like long term care and health costs related to women’s longer life expectancy. Consider whether or not to cash out and understand what happens if it is done prematurely. Know what your social security benefits are and what they will be if you outlive your spouse or partner.
• Do the math. Looking at your needs and resources is the key to planning and saving. Think about whether what you have now will last your expected, gender-specific lifetime. Ask for estimates and calculations based on your gender and health.
• Don’t put it off. Financial planning is not easy or necessarily pleasant but timely action is the best defense. Start planning now and have a few different scenarios. Make necessary adjustments if you don’t like what you discover.
Remember, your later life depends on it!