Financial planning for seniors is not a one-size-fits-all formula, especially when it comes to gender. Men and women hit retirement age with vastly different experiences under their belts — and with very different bottom lines.
Women earn less money but usually have to make it last longer due to their extended life expectancy.
Because women live longer than men on average, they face a higher health-care tab. The 2022 retirement health care cost estimate for single retirees is $150,000 for men and $165,000 for women.
Women’s salaries statistically peak earlier, and they take time off from work for childbirth and childrearing — often during the peaks of their careers.
Women generally have more debt, and they’re less likely to default, which leaves less money for them to invest. Women also tend to invest less and later in life than their male counterparts.
Even though women are less likely to invest, on the plus side, when they do invest, women generally outperform men in investment returns. Among the reasons are that men tend to be more reactionary than women, who stick to their long-term investing goals. Still, women can be less confident when it comes to investing at all, which can hurt them.
Let’s look at financial planning advice all seniors should follow — and extra tips women should consider — as they plan for retirement.
You want a certified financial planning professional who acts as a fiduciary handling your money. A fiduciary is legally required to provide investment advice that is in a client’s best interest, rather than solely for a commission. You can find a financial advisor who works on a fee-only basis on The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) site.
Tips for women: 76% of financial advisors are men, and so-called gender-neutral investing tools fail women because they don’t account for earning differences between the sexes. You may want to either hire a female financial planning advisor or ask a male advisor questions to find out if he understands women’s unique investment needs.
You have several options to help you pay down debt. You can consolidate your credit card debt into one monthly payment at a lower interest rate. You can use the snowball effect, where you pay off the balance with the highest interest rate first and then apply that payment amount to the next highest interest rate balance until its paid off, and so on. Whatever you choose, create a plan, and stick with it.
Tips for women: Since women tend to pay more for accrued debt, it’s wise to eliminate those payments, especially high interest “bad” credit card debts first.
If you’re still on the job, it’s never too early to have this important conversation with your boss. If you succeed and get that much-earned raise, make the most of it by paying off debt or putting it toward your retirement accounts.
Tips for women: There’s been a lot of talk about the “Negotiation Gap” between the sexes, where women are less inclined to ask for pay increases. That can be true, but research also shows women ask for raises as often as men; they just don’t receive them as often as men do. So, before you head into your boss’s office, learn how to negotiate a salary, like other female leaders.
Rising health care costs are concerning for all, especially considering what Medicare doesn’t pay for. Over 20% of adults ages 65 and older say they currently owe money due to medical or dental bills.
Tips for women: Because women face higher health-care costs by living longer than men, it’s even more important to not only choose the right Medicare Supplement insurance but also learn how additional supplemental insurance, such as Hospital Indemnity and First Diagnosis Cancer, can ease financial burdens.
Estate planning is often thought of as a way to decrease decision-making stresses on your family after your passing. Of course, it is, but it’s also a smart way to plan your finances — before and after your death. It forces you to list your assets; gather necessary documents, like a financial power of attorney; and decide how your finances will be distributed after you or your spouse passes away.
Tips for women: Again, because of women’s extended life expectancy and the gender pay and debt gaps, it’s even more important for women to plan for living alone during their senior years. A few ways to prepare for your spouse’s absence is to:
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