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Retirement Savings - What Women Need To Know

Aug 17, 2007
More than 60 million women work in the United States, yet less than half participate in a retirement plan. For many, the odds of ever receiving social security benefits, or Medicare are slim. On average, a women retiring at age 65, will live another 20 years or more! What kind of income will these women have if they aren't saving? The time to start planning for retirement is now!

Here are several things every woman must think about today, to ensure a financially sound retirement tomorrow:

Investing in Your Company's 401K Plan:
The most common retirement plan offered by employers these days are a 401K plan. This type of plan allows you to take a certain percentage of your annual salary tax-free, and invest it through the plan. Some companies will even match up to 50% of the employee's contribution as an added bonus!

Taking Full Advantage of Company Benefits:
Staying with a company long-term can be quite beneficial financially, if the company offers additional retirement benefits for long-term employees. The key here is to fully understand the perimeters of the program. Some workplaces require employees to become vested, or work a total of 5 years or more (whether part or fulltime during any of that time), while others require fulltime service for a specified number of years in order to qualify. Check your company's program details carefully before changing jobs, taking a long-term leave, or leaving the company altogether.

Finding A Retirement Plan Outside of Work:
Many women either work part time, or are self employed, which may not give them the option of participating in either a group retirement plan or a 401K savings plan. Self-employed women can start a KEOGH plan, a Simplified Employment Plan (SEP) or an Incentive Match Plan for Employees of Small Employers (SIMPLE). See a trained financial advisor for complete details.

Women who are married to spouses with a retirement plan at work, may also be eligible to participate regardless of their own working status. Each company's rules are different, and should be discussed with the Human Resources Department.

Getting Some Of Your Spouses Retirement Plan After A Divorce:
Far too often, women step out of the workforce, failing to set aside any retirement money of their own, planning to live off of their husband's retirement account, only to find themselves divorced and broke. However, some women may be eligible for a portion of those retirement savings, and should discuss this option with a lawyer prior to signing a final divorce settlement.

Saving for retirement is a long-term investment that must be started as soon as a woman enters the workforce. No matter how much - or how little - a woman can contribute, the need to save something now is essential to ensure that she will have the monies necessary to enjoy a full and rich retirement.
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