This puts women at a great disadvantage, especially when you consider women tend to live about 20 years past retirement.
But things don’t have to be so bleak. By giving some attention to your retirement plan and taking a few small acts to help you save while you’re still working, you can build your ideal retirement.
Smoothing Your Road to Retirement – Four Essential Questions to Ask Yourself
Here’s a few questions to ask yourself to make sure you’re financially ready to retire and not left out in the cold:
- How much do I really need?
Retiring to a tropical island and socializing at the yacht club may not be within reach, but it is possible to have a comfortable retirement that involves family, friends, hobbies and fulfilling your bucket list.
Financial experts recommend saving ten times your annual salary in order to prepare for retirement. That’s a lot but not impossible if you manage your retirement plan while you are still working and earning money to put towards retirement.
Find out where the majority of your paycheck goes and see what you can do to reduce those expenses. Some common areas to check are energy costs, car expenses (including insurance and fuel costs), banking and credit fees and taxes.
Come up with a plan to downsize and eliminate excesses as your children get older and you have fewer responsibilities. Ask yourself, “Do I need such a big house? Do I need more than one car?”
Making these adjustments to your lifestyle as you get closer to retirement will free up more money for retirement and reduce the bills you have to pay once you’ve retired.
- Are my investments right for me?
About once a year, pull out your retirement account statements and make sure you understand the type of plan(s) you’re invested in. If you’re like most people, reading these statements can be cumbersome, so it’s easy to toss them aside and forget about them. Take some time to understand where your money is invested and if your investments are aligned with your desired risk level.
Everyone has a different risk tolerance which can be determined by taking this simple quiz. But the best way to learn how your retirement account works is to speak to the financial adviser who manages your account to determine if your investment mix of stocks, bonds and cash suits you and your future needs.
Many companies offer advisers for free to help employees understand their employer sponsored retirement plan.
The National Association of Personal Financial Planners is also good place to search if you want to find a financial adviser on your own.
- Am I contributing consistently?
You work hard for your money, so remember to put yourself first when it comes to deciding where it goes. Automatic deduction from your paycheck is the best way to ensure you contribute to your company retirement account regularly without spending it first.
Additionally, by splitting your regular take-home pay deposit between checking and savings accounts, you can save an average of $467 extra each month that can be put towards retirement.
Make sure you are taking advantage of all of the options offered by most employers such as match programs and the option to automatically increase your contribution by a set percentage each year. This way, your contribution increases as your income grows.
- How’s my career developing?
Approximately 54% of workers age 60 years and older plan on working after retiring from their current career. If you are one of those ambitious people who plan to continue working once you retire or feel you will need to work in retirement to supplement your income, start planning what that will look like now.
Focus on work that you’re passionate about and that will give you a sense of fulfillment during your later years. It’s not too late to develop a new skill and hone your expertise in a way that will increase your earning potential all the way into retirement.
Our lives are not getting any less complex and our responsibilities any lighter. As long as children, parents and spouses are in our lives, we as women working will continue to have career interruptions that directly affect our retirement savings. However, by taking an interest in our retirement plan early on and making a few adjustments to it each year we can maximize our returns and soften those bumps in our own personal road to retirement.