Retirement as a Single Woman
If you’re in the 29 percent of women between ages 50 and 64 who are single, you may be wondering what retirement will look like. Saving and planning for retirement is already a difficult journey for many, and those who rely on a single income face even more unique challenges than those who are married or partnered. Here’s what you should know about planning for your retirement as a single woman.
The Gender Pay Gap
One of the reasons retiring as a single woman sparks unique challenges is the pay gap that exists between men and women. Even in 2020, women earned 82 cents for every dollar that a man made. It’s essential to keep this in mind when planning for retirement, because it may be harder for you to save efficiently and effectively throughout your career with less extra income after living expenses.
Traditionally, preparing for retirement means investing in a 401(k) and other funds in savings accounts, but for single women especially it’s important to plan for your future by advocating for your worth and negotiating higher salaries and better benefits. Don’t be afraid to have a discussion with your supervisor about what’s possible in terms of better compensation, especially if you’re nearing retirement age.
Women also have the tendency to take time off to care for family and loved ones, which can become a burden on employment and savings goals. Be realistic when offering care for loved ones—will it affect your ability to save for the future? It might be a smarter financial decision to arrange long-term care for elderly relatives or ask other family members to chip in with caring for those who need it.
Prepare for a Long Life
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), women live five years longer than men, on average. As a single woman, it’s important to keep in mind that you’re more likely to live longer in retirement than your male counterparts. This means enjoying more years of retirement, but also living off of a fixed income for those years.
Be prepared to live a long life by setting realistic expectations for your savings goals and budget in retirement. Plan out your estimated expenses including housing, healthcare, groceries, utilities, and other bills, and use these to set savings goals. When setting your goals, keep in mind that you’ll only have one Social Security payment to live off of, unlike those who are married or partnered, so you may have to supplement your income with more savings than the average retiree.
Set Yourself Up for Success
Once you have a savings plan and goals in place for your retirement, make sure you also have a plan for who will handle your financial and health-related decisions in the future. This could include a relative, close friend, or someone else you trust. Remember, it’s never too late to start planning for your retirement, and talking to a financial professional can help you figure out the best path forward to be happy and comfortable later in life.