In my book Making the Golden Years Golden, I help the reader develop plans for their future retirement. Women tend to be less prepared then men. In this article I address the women that are more likely to be less financially savvy, and thus make costly mistakes.
The statistics show that women live longer than men, on the average 8-10 years longer, 50 percent of marriages end in divorces, so you must be prepared to manage your finances wisely if you should be one of the women that are living on their her own. The following are 10 mistakes that are most commonly made as well as suggestions of how to avoid them, or correct them:
- Being unfamiliar with finances.
Women tend to let their spouses handle family finances and all related decisions. Protect yourself by making sure you know of all investments, all accounts, and your name appears on all of them. Joint ownership establishes your legal right to all assets in the event of your spouse becoming ill, or the unfortunate event of the marriage ending.
- Not saving early enough for retirement.
It is never to late, start today. Resist unnecessary spending. However small the steps, start as soon as possible.
- Investing in one basket.
Diversify your investment to reduce risk. When investing for retirement go with lower levels of risk, and put money into accounts that will give you a tax break, such as 401K or an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). The longer you build up your retirement assets with tax differed accounts the better of a retirement you will have.
- Starting tapping into retirement account too soon.
No matter what is the reason, do not use your retirement money. It is difficult to replenish it.
- Starting to collect Social Security too early.
Some two third of retiring Americans begin to collect early at a reduced rate. If you wait till you 65 years old with collecting your Social Security benefits, your monthly check will be 20 percent higher, then if you start at 62 years.
- Not purchasing Long Term Health Insurance.
Women are more likely not to have Long Term Health Insurance, assuming that Medicare will cover home care or nursing home stay. Medicare will only cover 100 days of rehabilitation and only if you will recover from the condition you are being rehabilitated from. If you purchase LTI early, in your fifties, it will be much lower then if the same policy is purchase in your sixties.
- Carrying Debt.
Decrease debt that so easily piles up on credit cards. Avoid needing to pay interest on credit card balances. Try to enter your retirement years debt free.
- Not having a Will or Health Proxy.
Eight out of ten women do not have Wills or Health Proxy. The first instruction as to what should be done with your assets, the second empowering someone you trust to speak for you when you are unable to do so regarding medical care. If you do not have a Will, the state may step in to administer it (and charge your estate for this favor), if you do not have a Health Proxy, doctors that may not know you will decide regarding your care.
- Not Planning for Residential Options in the Future.
Plan your life after retiring. You will need about 80 percent of your current income to live comfortably. You should preplan your residential situation. Consider scaling down housing expenses. Most of us do not need the large houses we lived in with our children. Research ahead of time what are the option and the cost for them, i.e. retirement communities, residential facilities, senior housing, etc.
- Women are less likely to start second careers.
If you need to supplement your income there are many opportunities that can be suitable for you. You need to research what is available, you may checkout the local school, they always need aides, the local hospital, nursing homes, libraries, they all need part time workers.