What single women need to consider when planning for retirement
If a couple needs a $500,000 nest egg to comfortably fund their retirement, then a single person can divide that in half, and they’re set, right? Not really. After all, you’re not cost sharing on big expenses like a home or a vehicle now that your working income has stopped. Single women need more than you would expect to retire.
The absolute priority is that women get involved and stay involved in their financial planning. Find an advisor that you trust and foster that relationship. An advisor can help you find solutions and can take the intimidation out of financial planning.
On average, women live four to five years longer than men, so most women will spend at least a portion of their retirement years single. If you lose your partner in retirement, there will be legal and financial responsibilities that now rest on your shoulders. If you have not been involved in the family financial plan up to that point, it can be a struggle. The earlier you get involved in your financial plans, the better. That goes for pre-retiree single women too.
Large strides have been made in many fields, but by the numbers, women still earn less than men. Basic math tells us that if you earn less, you can contribute less to your retirement fund, so it is critical that you start planning for retirement early, maximize your contributions where possible, and work with your advisor to run your retirement planning time horizon long enough to accommodate longer life.
You might live longer, but you could also have fewer full-time working years under your belt in which to contribute to your retirement fund. If you take time off from your career to raise children and/or care for aging parents, retirement contributions may pause while your income is reduced.
Conversely, if you are a high-earning single woman, you don’t have the option of income splitting with a spouse or common-law partner. Planning your sources of income with your advisor is critical for high-earning singles to mitigate taxes and old-age security clawback post-retirement.
Perhaps as important as being involved in your financial planning is to work with your advisor to create a comprehensive estate plan. Especially for childless singles, life insurance, disability, critical care, and long-term care planning are critical. You may not have anyone to take care of after your death (life insurance) or anyone to take care of you as you age. Keeping an updated will, power of attorney, and beneficiary designation is crucial to making sure your wishes are taken care of.
Working with an advisor to build a retirement strategy that includes an estate plan and considers your individual needs and goals will reassure you that you are saving enough and will have enough to last comfortably throughout your retirement.