Are you dreaming of a leisurely retirement enjoying a second cup of morning coffee, or is a sunrise round of golf more your speed? Either way, know the facts so you can guide your retirement dreams to reality.
Historically the road to retirement hasn’t been smooth for women. In fact, the Social Security Administration (SSA) reports that 17 percent of all elderly, single women live in poverty. By recognizing the following myths for what they are, you can take control of your financial future.
Myth #1 — Social Security will take care of me in retirement.
The reality is that Social Security income probably won’t be enough. At the start of 2011, the average monthly retirement benefit reported was $1,177. Plus, women’s benefits were almost a third lower than men’s. Not only do women earn less than men, they also take more time away from work than men (U.S. Department of Labor). Add the uncertain future of Social Security to these statistics, and you can see why it’s important to plan for additional income sources.
A benefits estimator is available online at the Social Security Administration’s Web site at www.ssa.gov. Use it to get an estimate of future benefits depending on when you plan to retire.
Myth #2 — I won’t need nearly as much to live on when I retire.
The assumption sounds reasonable when you consider the costs associated with raising children and commuting to work each day. On the other hand, if you want to spend your leisure time traveling, it will come with a cost. It’s probably safe to assume that you’ll have higher health care costs — and potentially long-term care costs — in your later years, as well.
As a rule of thumb, you’ll need 60 to 80 percent of your current income in retirement (adjusted for inflation) to maintain your current lifestyle. Of course, it depends on how you plan to spend your time once you’ve retired.
Myth #3 — My 401(k) contributions will fund my retirement without my involvement.
It’s true that a 401(k) is a smart way to save for retirement with pre-tax dollars. Since many employers offer a matching feature, you may have an opportunity for instant return on your invested dollars.
The good news is that many women are contributing to their employer-sponsored plans. SSA data suggests that in 2008, 51 percent of women employed full-time participated in their plan through work.
However, you shouldn’t sit back and let the plan manage itself. Instead, taking an active role in your investment selection can maximize benefits. If you have several years until retirement, choosing too conservative of investments may cause you to fall short. On the other hand, if retirement is approaching, you may need to move aggressive investments to the more conservative side. Remember to review your choices regularly to make sure your investment selection is still in line with your goals.
If these decisions seem daunting, you don’t have to make them alone. Establish a relationship with professionals who can help you at critical times. Face your unique financial challenges with reality and eager anticipation of your retirement dream.
For more information, please contact Michael W. Yee at (808) 952-1240.