About 70% of baby boomer women will outlive the men in their lives, often living another 15 to 20 years, according to the U.S. Administration on Aging.
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That is a scary statistic for women today to face. But we must.
And since our life expectancy today is even longer, we’re going to need to save more money and make sure we have health care.
And yet, according to a recent study by Transamerica, 62% of women said they were saving for retirement, with just 15% saving enough and 22% barely saving at all.
So consider this your 50 shades of retirement. Take the blindfold off and wake up.
Ask yourself the following questions:
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Do you understand the finances in your household?
Do you know where your money is being invested?
Do you know how much is saved for retirement?
Because let’s face it – we don’t get much help on the retirement front. Many of us step out of the workforce to care for our babies. (Granted, those are the best years of our lives.) But no one is making Social Security or 401(k) contributions on our behalf during those years.
And then there’s the elderly in our lives. Again, we women take time off to care for them, too. Hey, they don’t call us the sandwich generation because we have made so darn many of them for school lunches over the years.
And don’t you dare tell me your kids will do the same for you when you’re old and need a bedpan.
Look I have the best kids on the planet (I really do) but I am realistic enough to know that I shouldn’t rely on them to change my bedpan. It’s not fair to them (and it’s gross).
So we have to own this. Here are steps:
-Save when you can. It doesn’t matter how much -- just put something aside in an investable account so your money can accumulate while you are busy caring for the rest of the world.
-Get a clue about your household finances. And I’m talking every bill – manis and pedis included.
-Think about long-term care insurance, suggests Nancy Coutu, owner of Money Managers Advisory in Oak Brook, Illinois. Especially if you are between ages 45-50, your premiums will be reasonable and it will be comforting to know you’ll have that to lean on when your 95 and still taking Zumba. (Column on this to follow.)
-Get your own credit card. Yes, your own. Nothing joint here. Then use it and pay it off every month. You need to establish credit history in your own name. I never had my own card while I was married and then couldn’t get one when I first got divorced. My mother had to co-sign. Really.
-If you’re not working, think about finding a job. Even a small one gets you access to retirement savings.
There are more demands on women than ever before and no one wants to run out of money or be the proverbial bag lady in retirement, says Coutu. So the time to start thinking about all this is NOW. Let me know how I can help, send your personal finance questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.