Retirement planning for women is becoming a bigger topic each year. In the past 60-odd years, the number of women in the workforce has grown to unprecedented levels: from 32 percent in 1948 to 57 percent in 2016, according to the Department of Labor. And nearly half of those women are the primary breadwinners in their households.
With today’s longer life expectancies, particularly for women, it’s essential to be prepared for a longer retirement. Thus, careful planning today will yield good results in the future — and ensure you can spend your golden years the way you want.
First, find an expert.
If you don’t already work with one, finding a financial professional is a good first step —particularly an adviser who understands the challenges many women face in saving for retirement, like time out of the workforce due to childcare or eldercare, maintaining finances in the wake of a spouse’s death, and so on.
“A good financial advisor will help match the goals of retirement planning for women with investing strategies and create an appropriate investment model that matches goals and, more importantly, a defined risk tolerance,” said Jeremy Swank, chartered financial consultant with The Strategic Wealth Management Group.
Don’t feel like you’re a financial whiz? No matter: A 2014 TIAA-CREF survey found that 81 percent of women who had obtained knowledge from a financial professional reported feeling informed about retirement planning and retirement saving, and 63 percent felt confident about their retirement saving progress.
Next, plan your investment strategy.
The older you are, the less time you have to make back any investment losses than you once did. That means protecting what you have is a priority. However, the possibility of a longer retirement means some kind of growth investing is essential.
Sallie Krawcheck, former president of the investment management division of Bank of America and CEO of Ellevest, gives this tip about retirement planning for women. She estimates a woman making $85,000 annually who puts 20 percent of her yearly pay into a bank account rather than an investment account could effectively forfeit more than $1 million after four decades.
Explore your savings options.
Another important step in retirement planning is taking advantage of your work benefits. If your employer offers a retirement plan, don’t miss out on the value of participating.
“It’s imperative that individuals formulate some plan to pay themselves first through a systematic and automatic investment program,” said Jeremy Swank, ChFC. “This is incredibly easy and usually most accessible through an employer-sponsored retirement plan. As an added bonus, many employers offer some form of match, or in essence, free money.”
The typical workplace retirement plan is tax-favored. Money within the account grows tax-free, and comes out of your paycheck before taxes. You’ll only pay taxes on the money when it’s withdrawn.
Claim Social Security benefits carefully.
Delaying Social Security is a wise move for single women if your health permits it. Consider this: If you wait until full retirement age, you could receive 30-40 percent more in Social Security payments. And for every year you wait to claim Social Security, your monthly payments get about eight percent larger.
Above all, retire with a plan.
Finally, remember that retirement planning for women – or anyone – begins by pairing the right outlook with the right actions. To find out just how much you’ll need for a comfortable retirement, consult a financial professional who can help you assess your saving potential.
Jeremy N. Swank, ChFC may be reached at 419-522-6636, email@example.com or at www.thestrategicwealthgroup.com
 “Financial experience and behaviors among women,” Prudential Financial, 2014.
 “5 financial moves every woman should make before 30,” CNN Money, 2017.
 “Taxable vs. tax-advantaged savings,” The Motley Fool, 2017.
 “What older workers don’t know about social security,” U.S. News, 2012