The challenges of Sufficiency in Retirement affect both men and women. However, the issues that women encounter can be much different than men's issues and therefore must be addressed dif-ferently --- AND, from the woman's perspective! For whatever reason, many advisors fail to ade-quately address the "special" needs of women which can leave them vulnerable at a most critical time in their life.
Only through "proper perspective" planning that ad-dresses the common challenges of both parties can Retirement Sufficiency be realized. Common challenges for men and women are typically recog-nized as: A. Not saving enough soon enough during working years; B. Not putting a “plan” in place to outlive the assets; and C. Addressing future health care needs.
However, for women, these and other issues should be addressed even if the woman is married and her spouse is the major earner. As we all recognize, life can change in an instant and therefore equal pre-paredness is critical.
Areas of women’s “vulnerability” for sufficient and comfortable Retirement:
1) LONGEVITY –
Women generally live longer than men!!! It’s just always been that way! I’ve been told it’s because it’s the “lady that receives the chocolates” and chocolate helps to preserve the human body. So, ladies, if you want your “guy” to live longer, give him some more chocolates!! But the reality of a longer life brings other issues to the discussion. According to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, life ex-pectancy at birth in the U.S., is 76.4 years for men, and 81.2 years for women!!! These extra 5 years plus MUST be addressed.
NOW, add to this the issue -
2) LESSER INCOME DURING EARNING YEARS –
I’m grateful to see the rise of “earning pow-er” for the females in America. However, for some weird reason, in earlier times and still today, the female is paid less wages for the same or even higher level of work skills. Even though this situation is beginning to right itself, both the past and the present earning levels of women will affect the “suf-ficiency” of accumulated assets and/or So-cial Security benefits for the future.
THEN, tack onto these issues the negative effect due to a very “positive” female attribute -
3) THE CARING AND GIVING NATURE –
Men generally respond to "emergencies" and try to offer immediate help – then back off and let the "care givers" take over. Women are given emo-tionally to "care giving" – it's in their DNA. There-fore, it is almost always the woman who ends up "caring" for the wounded, for the children AND even for elderly parents. This "positive" female attribute decreases the ability of the woman to create greater amounts of assets for themselves. Advisors CAN-NOT neglect addressing the effects of this issue when planning the future of "Sufficiency" for our women!
THIS NEXT AREA of Vulnerability is getting better:
4) INVESTMENT EDUCATION –
Women have been "left out" of far too many family financial discussions. Too often the traditional thought was that the "guy takes care of the financial issues" and the "lady will handle everything else"! If this is a "tradition" in your family history, let it stop immediately! It is not only vital that the woman be a part of all discussions and decisions, she should be comfortable to join in the details of "planning" for the future with her spouse as a co-leader (at least to the extent she desires to lead). Everyone needs to be fully aware that within a few short years the great majority of America's wealth will literally be in the ownership/control of women. Men die sooner than women – men generally have the larger 401k and larger life insurance death benefits that are received by the woman. Without having a great understand-ing of the "planned pathway for future sufficiency" that has been created, it is unfair to dump huge re-sponsibility on the woman who could easily be be-wildered by the sudden responsibility she finds rest-ing on her shoulders!! "Who do I contact that I know will be honest with me – who will assist me like the man was assisted?" I would encourage EVERY woman to identify a professional now (beyond a spouse) whom she finds to be Competent, in whom she has Confidence, and with whom she feels Comfortable sharing and conversing about her is-sues.
The statistics indicate "you're gonna need it"!
There's a bit of a "double whammy" in this last one:
5) HEALTH-CARE COSTS –
* Subject #1 above pops into this issue. Having a longer life expectancy than the men has its luxuries and its liabilities. The longer life has the greater possibility of health-care issues that would require more medical attention AND assistance in living.
* Women are twice as likely to suffer from issues that are not immediately terminal (heart attacks, etc.) as would the men, but medical conditions that linger and have to do with structural needs of assis-tance. Therefore, once again, assistance in living.
The great possibility of Health-Care costs should be addressed early in the "sufficiency of lifestyle" plan-ning stage of one's future.
SO, WHAT TO DO! There are many strategies that should be implemented "sooner than later" and if the reader has done little to prepare for the future, the advice here is to re-visit #4 above first. Find a pro-fessional that you know you can "lean on" IF and WHEN you need personal and specific assistance. However, consider the following:
1) Start Now!!! Be a NIKE person – "Just do it" NOW. Find a professional you trust, get started by chatting about your future – your HEALTH, your FAMILY, ALL issues related to YOU.
2) Get more involved in financial issues.
3) Take a view of your present plans and/or assets. Will the path you are following now get you to the place of "sufficiency" you desire in the future?
4) If you are employed, take advantage of your employer's "retirement plan" offered – make sure you contribute at least "up to the max of the match"!
5) If you are married, make sure your spouse is ad-equately covered for loss of life (life insurance) so that while the two of you are living, you can enjoy "sufficiency" and still know that if he were to be-come deceased, there would still be enough for your "sufficiency" due to the loss of some income (e.g. one Social Security check will cease, etc.).
6) If single, all issues above except #5 are vital to you and your future. If you feel you need someone to attend a meeting with you when seeing a profes-sional, please ask that person
to join you in the meeting. DON'T ALLOW
ANYTHING to stop you from moving forward for your future "sufficiency"!!
** Planning – is time well spent!
** Worrying – about tomorrow is time wasted!
Sometimes, by one's self, it is difficult to tell the difference.
** Stress-Free Planning – is thinking ahead about goals, steps to take, schedules to keep – with someone guiding the process ---
THIS ALLEVIATES WORRY!