5 Actions Women Can Take Right Now to Get Their Retirement On Track

By Christa Avampato on 22 August 2017 0 comments

I have female friends who range in age from their 20s to their 70s. When I talk to them about retirement, most of them share a striking similarity: They don't think about it until they have to think about it.

Truthfully, we must think about and actively plan for retirement long before we actually retire — decades before, actually. This is true for everyone and it's especially true for women. (See also: 12 Surprising Things Women Should Know About Retirement Planning)

As a woman, there are several actions you can take right now to get your retirement on track.

1. Plan for a long life

There are a number of retirement factors that women must consider more seriously than men. For example, the average life span for men in the U.S. is about 78 years. The average life span for women in the U.S. is 81 years. Since women tend to live longer, they must account for this and plan to have more money saved for retirement. Because of this longer average life span, it's also important for women to consider long-term care, the likelihood of chronic conditions and illnesses related to aging, and disability in their retirement planning. (See also: Is Long Term Care Insurance Worth It?)

2. Don't procrastinate

Several unfortunate facts for working women also increase the urgency and need for deliberate planning in retirement. There is no denying that a wage gap exists for women. Simply stated, women earn an average 20 percent less than men, and this gap exists in nearly every professional field. The gap is wider for women of color and working mothers. In some states, the gap is higher still.

Apart from dealing with a wage gap, women also often leave the workforce early, whether to raise a family or act as caregivers for an aging spouse or relative. These combined factors mean that women quite literally can't afford to waste time in their approach to retirement planning. They must work harder to match the retirement savings of men — in addition to having to save more money overall to support a longer life span. (See also: This Is Why You Can't Postpone Planning for Your Retirement)

3. Take control

Retirement can be, and often is, a complicated subject — so don't feel badly about not having all the answers about what you need to do and when you need to do it. There are people who spend their entire careers learning the ins and outs of retirement planning, and helping people toward a brighter future. The right adviser can be exceedingly helpful and supportive. No matter who you turn to for retirement planning advice, make sure you feel comfortable asking them questions and feel confident in their responses. The important step is to decide to take control of your financial planning. (See also: This Is the Basic Intro to Having a Retirement Fund That Everyone Needs to Read)

4. Create a plan

Now it's time to put an actionable plan in place. Your advising firm can help you set up the best retirement savings strategy, including finding the best possible tax advantages for you. Your workplace may be able to help, too. Some advisement companies also have online portals that give you a snapshot of your accounts, telling you if you're on track or not. These tools are invaluable in your retirement planning. Take advantage of all of them. (See also: How to Face 4 Ugly Truths About Retirement Planning)

5. Track your progress

In an effort to begin your retirement savings early, and to save as much as you can for all the reasons mentioned above, you want to automate your retirement savings whenever possible. For example, your workplace may offer Bi-Weekly deductions from your paycheck that go directly into your retirement accounts. You can personally set regular contributions from your bank account.

To stay motivated, it's important to track your progress. Take a look at your accounts once a month or once a quarter to see your savings growing. What gets measured gets done, and seeing your accounts grow will give you the confidence and encouragement to stay on your plan. (See also: 8 Signs Your Retirement Is on Track)

There's no denying that women face an uphill battle when it comes to retirement savings. With the gender-based wage gap, fewer years in the workforce, and a longer average life span, it's critical for women to start their retirement savings as early as possible and to put away as much money as they can. With careful planning, focus, and diligence, women can rise and meet their goal of a healthy, happy retirement. (See also: How Every Woman Can Take Control of Her Finances)

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