Setting your own course to a secure retirement

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Continued from Charting a course to a secure retirement.

Women have to navigate unique barriers in order to secure their retirement. While these barriers put many women at a financial disadvantage when it’s time to retire, there are steps they can take to help minimize or eliminate them.

You can’t know everything that will happen in your life—but if you recognize what the challenges may be, anticipate them, and plan for them, the chances of overcoming obstacles and achieving your goals are much greater. Here are seven things you can do to be prepared.

  1. Know where your money is going. Whether or not you’re in charge of the household finances, you should have a good idea of what accounts you have (as well as the ability to access those accounts), what your monthly expenses are, and how much you are saving. Be part of the decision-making process and you’ll build financial confidence.
  2. Save now, no matter what the amount. Even if you can only put a small amount toward retirement, do it today. It’s never too early or too late to get started. Putting just an extra $20–$50 per paycheck still adds up over time.
    Further, as you pay off loans, reduce or eliminate expenses, or get a raise, take that amount and redirect it to your retirement savings. You won’t miss it because you’re already living without that extra money—but you will welcome it later.
  3. Build your savvy. Seek out reliable information on saving for retirement to help you make good decisions. Some of the basics you should learn about before investing include how fees impact your retirement account, diversification, risk, and the types of investment products available. You should also learn what retirement income sources are available to you through your employer and how much you need to save to retire comfortably. Take advantage of our free financial education and individual consultations as well as our financial planning services to help you evaluate your financial picture and create a strategy that works for you. 
  4. Keep retirement savings a priority. Because women tend to assume the role of caregiver, they often put their own needs (including financial) last. But your mantra should be, “Pay yourself first.” It can be tempting to give your kids a free ride to college, but they can fund their college costs with loans, scholarships, grants, and their own hard-earned cash. There are no loans to pay for retirement.
  5. Consider long-term care insurance (LTCi). With an LTCi policy, you will have more choices about living situations and types of care if you or a partner are ever in need of assistance. Only LTCi is designed to cover the cost of long-term care services, which are generally not covered by health insurance or Medicare. It may just help save your finances. 
  6. Get help with caregiving. Whether you are caring for aging parents or needing help yourself, take time to research all of the community resources available. You may be able to find low-cost assistance or receive financial aid for certain types of care. Contact your local Area Agency on Aging or disability resource center. If you need help negotiating with family members over the cost of care or time involvement, you may also find agencies that help mediate those decisions.
  7. Maintain your health. No one can predict what will happen in the future, but maintaining your mental, physical, and social health will reduce your odds of costly illness later. 

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