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Retirement for Women can be Golden
The stats are scary enough: Women save and earn less than men, live longer and devote more time and money to helping others before helping themselves. But with a little advance planning, women can enjoy a golden retirement.
Here are five tips to help keep you on track:
- Take the time to monitor your finances, no matter how busy you are or how much you're tempted to avoid it. Once a quarter or once a year, look at what long-term accounts are earning versus the benchmark. Keep a budget of day-to-day expenses. Once you get in the habit, it's hard to break.
- Do a test-drive of your retirement on paper: Figure out what Social Security and a pension (if you have one) will pay per month and factor in a 4-percent withdrawal rate on your investments. Then match that number against projected expenses. Don't get hung up on 100-percent accuracy; this is meant to provide an indication of how much longer you may have to work or how to tweak your investment portfolio for more aggressive growth.
- Get out of debt. It may seem like an uphill climb if you've amassed a lot of it, but high-interest payments cut into your savings and never give you a sense of security. Make the sacrifices to live below your means and resist temptation to spend.
- Pay yourself first. Max out retirement plans and then begin an after-tax savings program.
- Don't shoot for the stars when investing. Your asset allocation should be designed to meet your needs, allowing for growth and preservation. Don't pay attention to the day-to-day noise or market fluctuation. Instead, work with an adviser to develop a long-term plan and stick to it. Studies show that women investors are better at this, so take advantage of your strengths.
Once your plan is humming along, you'll find it easy and empowering to "check in" every quarter, knowing that a comfortable retirement is attainable.