Retirement Planning for Women

Let’s make it a priority

Women are better educated and outnumber men in the workforce — but still save less than 30% of what men save for retirement. The reasons are many and complex — the gender pay gap, unpaid breaks from work for raising kids and caring for aging parents, lack of a retirement investment strategy — but women of every age and stage can improve their retirement savings picture starting now with smart retirement planning for women strategies.   

Why start now? Regardless of your age, marital status or income level, it’s never too late or too early for retirement planning for women. SmartHER earning, planning and saving are a great start. For most women, getting to the point where you can live comfortably without working constantly doesn’t happen overnight. Let’s take a look at the special considerations and conditions of saving for SmartHER retirement

The SmartHER Retirement Saving Challenge 

How long will my retirement savings last? The best answer — and our goal — is “as long as I need it to last.” These days, that may be 30 years or more. In an ideal world, a woman in her early 20s would immediately start saving and investing for retirement, taking advantage of the miracle of compound interest and decades of saving a percentage of her income. 

Whether you’re younger or older, whether you have a retirement investment strategy, you can and will be better off by learning as much as possible about women and investing and retirement planning for women. Here are a few initial resources to get you thinking about SmartHER retirement. 

Not Your Grandmother’s Retirement

Retiring at 65 with a comfortable pension from your long-term employer may be what your mother or grandmother — or more likely your father or grandfather — did, but for many, those days are long gone. 

Gone, too, are many of the stereotypes of retired people, replaced by a new reality — healthier, more active, more traveled, more likely to be caring for aging parents or even grandchildren, more likely to have a second career or side job, more likely to be single. Some single older women are choosing to live out their golden years like the TV series “The Golden Girls,” buying housing together to reduce their expenses and enjoy companionship. 

Many Iowa women say they’re planning to retire later — somewhere between ages 65 and 74, according to our most recent research. Iowa women are also living healthier lives and living longer in retirement. Before we look specifically at how to finance those 20+ years of retirement, let’s take a closer look at what retirement looks like now.

Never Too Early: Good News for Younger Women

Yes, women of all ages face financial and retirement challenges that are often greater than our male counterparts. Unlike women of previous generations, retirement planning for women is aided by more resources and information at our fingertips. The know-how is out there — and right here. The real challenge is to get organized and take action.

In this section, we share some strategies to help women in their peak earning years (20s to 50s) prepare for retirement. The truth is, you’re never too young to start saving for your later years. The sooner you start, the more you’ll have when you need it. If you’re close to or already in retirement, you can get more detailed suggestions in the section below entitled Never Too Late: Women Approaching the Golden Years. 

Never Too Late: Women Approaching the Golden Years

It should go without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: If you’re nearing retirement age, you’ll want to have as much money saved as possible. Even if you don’t have as much as you’d like, it’s never too late to build up or build on your retirement savings. There are special considerations for older women in or approaching retirement that can help you reduce expenses, protect the money you have and even earn a bit more in retirement.

What’s different as you get older? Proximity to retirement, risk tolerance, health issues and potentially living on one income are increasingly relevant factors in your financial decision-making. On the other hand, fewer time constraints, greater freedom to travel and enjoy life and a lifetime of experience and wisdom to fall back on can create joys and pleasures unmatched in our younger years.  

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