| July 12, 2012

Women should take a cautious approach to retirement planning

Building an adequate nest egg is important for every American, regardless of age or gender. However, women in particular should take a measured approach to saving enough for their golden years because they generally face unique circumstances that set them apart from men.

First, women typically earn less than men in the workplace and work for a shorter period of time. The latter is the result of taking maternity leave or leaving their jobs earlier to care for their growing families, Richard Johnson, who directs the Program on Retirement Policy at the Urban Institute, told Fox Business. As a result, they not only accrue less income, but also earn less in Social Security and retirement.

Second, statistics show that women generally live longer than men. This scenario, coupled with advancements in medical technology that have further increased Americans’ life expectancies, means women will be required to save significantly more than their male counterparts to avoid falling short on resources.

Lastly, studies show that women and men approach retirement planning and saving differently. Women tend to be more conservative when it comes to investing their money in the stock market, annuities and other wealth-building vehicles. This may put them at a disadvantage because conservative approaches may lower their earning potential.

Women can start planning for their retirement years by consulting with a credit counseling agency or a financial adviser about establishing a savings plan that focuses on eliminating debt and bolstering bank and investment accounts. Each individual has unique financial circumstances, which is the primary reason that working with a professional to develop a personalized plan can be beneficial.

It’s also important that women educate themselves on the different resources available to them. Retirement calculators, investment tutorials, debt management strategies and wealth-building vehicles can give females the information they need to put a plan into motion. Women may also want to reorganize their finances to start devoting more resources toward retirement. Those who are still shy about investing or in the process of paying down credit card debt or loans can still grow their income through low-risk investments, such as certificates of deposit, money market funds and annuities.

In closing, medical expenses tend to make up the largest expenses adults incur as they grow older. Women who explore different healthcare plans, long-term care insurance and purchase policies that will protect them as they age may run into fewer financial problems.

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