According to the 16th Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey, only 12% of women are very confident in their ability to retire comfortably versus 16% of men.
Not only that, but women who contribute to work-sponsored 401(k) plans save 7% of their annual salary, but on average men save 8%. The survey also showed that 46% of women are not too confident or not at all confident about their retirement savings.
As evidenced, women need to up their retirement game and save more money. Luckily, there is no better time than now for women to dive in and learn about how to effectively plan for their futures.
Below are three plays women can make to do just that.
Set Retirement Goals
Many women know empirically that one of their biggest financial goals should be saving for retirement. They might even know that traditionally, people retire at age 65. The good news is that retirement isn’t a one-size-fits-all goal, and women can set whatever retirement goals they want.
However, in order to do this, they have to sit down and really think about what they want out of life. For example, what do you want your retirement to look like? Do you want to continue living in your current home or downsize? Do you want to travel extensively or spend your days curled up on the couch reading? Do you want to have enough money to take care of yourself and others or do you just need a small amount of money to cover your own basic needs?
There is no right or wrong answer, but having an idea of what you want your future to look like is important for setting financial goals. If you’re a minimalist and don’t have a lot of expenses, you might be able to retire earlier because you know how to live on less. If you want to travel the world and stay in five-star hotels along the way, you might have to save a higher percentage of your income or work longer.
Essentially, by setting your own personal goals and knowing how you want to live once you stop working, you can then move on to the next step and do your research.
Do Your Research
If you work for an employer that provides you with a 401(k) or similar work-sponsored retirement plan, find out as much information as you can. Make sure you understand whether there is a company match and what you have to do to reach it.
Also, if you need help understanding your retirement options, make an appointment with Human Resources. If you don’t know how to pick the right funds, spend time learning or ask a financial advisor for help.
Use a financial calculator to determine if you’re currently on track to save for retirement. Using a calculator might show you that you’re well on your way to reaching your retirement goals, or it might show you that you need to alter your work contributions and increase the percentage you’re putting in.
If you’re self-employed, spend time talking to other entrepreneurs and learn how they save for retirement. Learn the differences between different types of retirement savings options and speak to an accountant to find out which business structure is right for you.
Ultimately, the more knowledgeable you get about your options, the more empowered you will feel.
Adjust Your Spending As Needed
Once you spend time thinking about your retirement goals and learning how much money it will take to reach them, you might have to adjust your spending.
Remember, you can only spend every dollar you earn once. So, you can choose to spend your dollar toward a cup of coffee, to pay down debt or to save for the future.
Once you have a retirement goal in mind and you know what you’re working toward, it makes it easier to manage your money. It becomes second nature to avoid spending your money on unnecessary items in favor of saving for your goals.
So, using some of the tips above, go ahead and make the appointment and talk to HR. Increase your retirement contributions. Spend less on clothes or going out to eat so you can allocate more money toward your future nest egg.
Most importantly, take the time to really consider how you want your future to look and what your ideal retirement years look like. As women, we all have the ability to reach these financial goals – even if they’re big ones. It will just take time, persistent research and action to get there. So, go ahead and get started!
Are you on track for your retirement savings goals? Do you currently contribute to a work-sponsored retirement plan or are you self-employed? What do you want your future retirement years to look like?
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