Every August 26, we celebrate Women’s Equality Day and the steps taken to improve women’s lives. There is more to do to continue to improve, and planning for retirement is high on the list.
On August 18, 1920, Congress ratified the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote. Just over 100 years later, women still strive to be equal in many areas, and retirement planning is a critical one. Women are less prepared for retirement and often have fewer retirement resources. This can mean a lower standard of living during the retirement years.
What are some reasons that can potentially contribute to women falling behind in planning for retirement? Women are more likely than men to pause their careers to raise children or to care for aging parents. This pause often results in lost work time and lower income levels. Women also are more likely to choose careers that are flexible or part-time to prioritize family responsibilities, again, resulting in less resources available for retirement savings.
These factors can impact the traditional resources available at retirement, such as Social Security benefits and qualified-plan savings. As financial professionals, many of the challenges female clients face are beyond your control; however, you have the ability to offer solutions. The opportunity lies in empowering female clients by helping them plan for the income gaps and limited retirement resources.
Here are some helpful steps for women to help them better prepare for retirement.
Save Early and Often. When starting a career, it is tempting to delay saving for retirement. But compounding teaches us that even small amounts, saved early on, can provide a significant savings base. Contribute to the 401(k) or 403(b) plan, at least up to the match (and hopefully a bit more).
Contribute to a Spousal IRA. If you have ever stayed at home with your children, niece, nephew, or grandkids, you know that it’s no vacation. Any “stay-at-home” parent will tell you that it is work—important and essential work—which means there should be a retirement savings plan that goes with it. A spousal IRA allows the income from the spouse working outside the home to fund retirement for the spouse at home. A tip—as this helps replace “lost” Social Security benefits income: consider a deferred income annuity, which can provide lifelong income.
Part-Time Work Counts. Keep in mind, when Social Security benefits add up the 35 highest-earning years, the years without income count as zero income. This has two effects: there are zero quarters for eligibility and zero income counted toward the benefit. Part-time work can provide quarters for Social Security eligibility and some income (always better than zero).
Yes, women still may strive to be equal in many areas. But some thoughtful planning can help those who put their careers in the back seat to spend time raising children, or care for aging parents or family members, and in similar situations, have a better retirement outcome.
Let’s celebrate Women’s Equality Day by empowering women to plan now for a comfortable retirement that they deserve and will enjoy!
For more information on retirement-planning strategies, please contact the Retirement Strategies Group at (800) 722-2333, or email us at RSG@PacificLife.com.
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