Maryland Women's Heritage Center

Laura Hern on Financial Planning for Women

Life Planning Decisions for Retirement Are You Prepared?

At age 46, retirement income was not a problem for me. My husband had investments, a maxed out 401K and our savings account was more than sufficient.

By age 48, my husband had died leaving more than two years of medical expenses that had depleted all our retirement accounts.

After much prayer and soul searching, I found a way to begin saving. Creating a simple plan and following it has given me peace of mind. Perhaps it can help you too.

First, consider how well you know yourself. Planning for retirement has as much to do with who you are as with the investments you make! Many times women are thrust into multiple rolls with daily pressures being everything to everyone, raising children, work advancement, sole income provider, caregiving for aging parents, and supporting adult children. We become experts on prioritizing and our own needs ranking last. Planning for income in retirement is not on the radar. Theres plenty of time to save for retirement, correct? Wrong! Start today!

Knowing yourself is the first step to planning retirement income. Are you a person who saves money or do you buy what you want when you want? Do you love to travel or stay close to home? Do you have expensive hobbies or do you prefer curling up with a good book? What type of house a senior living community perhaps? What city will you choose? What is most important to you in retirement? Be honest with your answers.

Secondly, consider the sources to which you contribute. Stock market investments, saving accounts, 401K plans, and social security are common resources. Will you have future inheritance income? Are you receiving returns that will last through years when your income stops?

Armed with a new self-awareness, the next step is to create a realistic plan to insure your retirement income fits your needs. As you begin to write your plan, ask yourself: Will I be downsizing housing? Will there be a savings to add to my income? Will I be out of debt? Will I be relocating? Will I be involved in philanthropy or financially support charities? Should I have a financial advisor?

Consider the different types of expenses that will occur during retirement: housing payments, utilities, auto payments, car insurance, health insurance, maintenance costs, life insurance and taxes are expenses. Medical expenses increase annually and will increase exponentially as you age. Will your plan provide security for these?

Many women at the time of retirement may not have much say about their income savings. Decisions made throughout life directly impact the amount of savings accumulated for retirement.

Will you be content with what retirement income you may be forced to accept? Will you be content with what retirement income you purposely plan to save for?

Retirement will arrive whether were ready for it or not. Its never too late to take action. Create your plan today! After all, women can accomplish anything!

Laura Hern
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