Despite gains, closing the retirement gap remains challenging for women, and American women are much more uncertain about their retirement finances than men, according to a new survey by consumer marketing firm Gfk.
The survey found that 60 percent of women were uncertain or not confident about their retirement finances compared to 41 percent of men.
“That’s really no surprise when you consider the unique set of issues and problems women face when it comes to retirement,” said Petra Chien, vice president and wealth strategist for First Bank. “While nearly everyone has unique retirement issues, women definitely have added challenges when you factor in their longer life spans and lower average wages.”
And because they typically have more parental and caregiver responsibilities, Chien pointed out, women are more likely to work in part-time jobs that don’t qualify for their employer’s retirement plan.
To ramp up retirement savings, First Bank offers these financial tips for women:
– Start early. Saving early and letting your dollars compound over a long period of time is one of the most powerful tools in retirement planning. This is especially important for women who may take time away from their careers to have children or care for elderly parents. This is also why it is critical to avoid taking a 401(k) loan so retirement savings can continue to grow.
– Maximize your savings. Saving money is not an easy task but at a minimum, contribute enough in your 401(k) to get the employer match. Have a rainy day emergency fund saved so you are not forced to take a loan from your 401(k). If eligible, contributing to a Roth IRA is a great way to meet both goals with one strategy. If you are a stay-at-home or taking a break from work, you may be eligible for a spousal IRA.
– Invest in the market. Women tend to be more conservative than men when it comes to investing. Over the long-term, having an appropriate allocation to equities can potentially provide higher returns. This could be the difference between a comfortable retirement or running out of money in retirement.
– Invest in yourself. Continuing education or obtaining additional certifications could pay-off with longer employment and higher pay. This means more money you can put towards retirement. Check if your employer offers a tuition reimbursement program or would be willing to pay for your career development.
– Take care of you. Health-care costs are one of the biggest risks to wiping out a retirement nest egg. Having a healthy lifestyle today may reduce medical expenses in your golden years. Women also need to play ahead for long-term care. Women tend to be the caretaker for parents, spouses and children but who will take care of you? Getting the appropriate long-term care coverage early can save significant dollars down the road.
– Work with a professional. Retirement planning can be daunting so don’t tackle this on your own. A qualified professional can provide guidance to help maximize saving strategies available to you.
First Bank is one of the largest privately owned banks in the country with $6.1 billion in assets and more than 100 locations in Missouri, Illinois and California.
— From the Illinois Business Journal