Statistics show that women live longer than men, on the average 8-10 years longer and 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. Being prepared to manage finances wisely is essential particularly when it comes to retirement.
Unfortunately many make mistakes when planning for retirement and women tend to be less prepared than men. While many of the issues relate to both men and women, women should be especially aware of the following 10 mistakes (and suggestions on how to avoid or correct them):
- Being unfamiliar with finances
Women tend to let their spouses handle family finances and all related decisions. Protect yourself by making sure you know of all investments, all accounts, and your name appears on all of them. Joint ownership establishes your legal right to all assets in the event of your spouse becoming ill, passing, or the unfortunate event of the marriage ending. Thorough knowledge of your finances will give you strength and ability to plan for your retirement.
- Not saving early enough for retirement
It is never too late, start saving today. Resist unnecessary spending. However small the steps, start as soon as possible.
- Investing in one basket
Diversify your investment to reduce risk. When investing for retirement go with lower levels of risk, and put money into accounts that will give you a tax break, such as 401K or an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). The longer you build up your retirement assets with tax deferred accounts the better prepared you will be for retirement. Seek out a professional financial planner to guide you, but remain involved in decision making.
- Starting tapping into retirement account too soon
No matter what the reason, do not use your retirement money. No matter how tempting it is to withdraw money from your retirement account, be it for down paying debt, remodeling or a well deserving vacation, resist it. It is difficult to replenish the accounts.
- Starting to collect Social Security too early
Some two third of retiring Americans begin to collect early at a reduced rate. If you wait until you are 65 years old to collect your Social Security benefits, your monthly check will be 20 percent higher, than if you start at 62 years.
- Not purchasing Long Term Health Insurance
Women are more likely not to have Long Term Health Insurance, assuming that Medicare will cover home care or a nursing home stay. Medicare will only cover 100 days of rehabilitation and only if you will recover from the condition you are being rehabilitated from. If you purchase LTI early, in your fifties, the premium will be much lower than if the same policy is purchased in your sixties. When you shop around for LTI, make sure that the daily rate provided will cover the actual rates being charged for long term care. If the insurance company pays only 150 dollars per day, and the actual cost today is 250 dollars or more, be prepared to pay the difference. Check the insurance company’s rating before purchasing a policy.
- Carrying Debt
Try to eliminate or decrease debt that so easily accumulates on credit cards. Avoid interest payments on credit card balances. Try to enter your retirement debt free.
- Not having a Will or Health Proxy
Eight out of ten women do not have Wills or Health Proxy. The First instructs as to what should be done with your assets, the Second empowering someone you trust to speak for you if you are unable to do so regarding medical care. If you do not have a Will, the State may step in to administer it (and charge your estate for this favor), if you do not have a Health Proxy, doctors that may not know you and your wishes, will make decisions regarding your care. It would be advisable to review both instruments every few years, and any changes that you may want to do.
- Not Planning for Residential Options in the Future
Plan your life after retiring. You will need about 80 percent of your current income to live comfortably. You should preplan your residential situation. Consider scaling down housing expenses. Most of us do not need the large houses we lived in with our children. Research ahead of time about available options, i.e. retirement communities, residential facilities, senior housing, etc.
- Women are less likely to start second careers
If you need to supplement your income there are many opportunities that can be suitable for you. You need to research what is available. Possible part time opportunities may exist at local schools, hospitals, nursing homes, libraries, etc.