Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Helping Women at Every Life Stage Achieve Financial Success

A Helpful Checklist for Single Women

* Prioritize your short- and long-term financial goals – such as next year’s vacation or a down payment for a condo – and determine how to save enough money to get there.
* Create a budget and stick to it. Watching your spending will help you reach your financial objectives sooner.
* Start saving for retirement now. Taking advantage of compounding interest will pay big dividends later on, so try to put 10 percent of your paycheck into your company’s 401(k) plan or an IRA.
* Begin saving for emergencies. Put away enough to cover three to six months of your expenses.
* Think about buying a home or apartment as soon as you can afford it. You’ll not only build equity, but some of your mortgage interest and property tax is generally tax deductible.
* Look for ways to lower your taxes because single filers pay the highest tax rates. Contributions to 401(k) and Flexible Spending Accounts can reduce your taxable income. In addition, some of your IRA contributions may be tax deductible. Or, a Roth IRA -- if your employer offers it -- may be right for you. Contributions are not tax deductible but qualified withdrawals are income tax-free.
* Consider purchasing life insurance. It’s cheaper when you’re younger and although you’re single, you may someday have a family or relatives dependent on your financial support.

A Helpful Checklist for Women Approaching Retirement

* Estimate the annual income you’ll need in retirement. Be sure to include the cost of individual medical insurance that you’ll have to pay until you can use Medicare at age 65. (You can keep your employer’s insurance for 18 months after you retire, but you’ll be responsible for the entire cost.)
* Determine the sources of your retirement income, including Social Security, retirement savings, other investments, and profits from selling your home if you downsize.
* Check whether you can afford to wait to collect Social Security benefits until you’re at least full retirement age. Taking Social Security at 62 will reduce your lifetime benefits. For those born from 1943 to 1954, full retirement age is 66, and collecting at age 62 will reduce lifetime benefits by 25 percent. For those born after 1954, full retirement age phases up to age 67 and retiring at age 62 will reduce benefits by 30 percent.
* If you’re concerned that you’re not on track to reach your income goals, take advantage of catch-up contributions you can make to a 401(k) or 403(b) starting at age 50.
* Even if you don’t need to make catch-up contributions, keep putting as much as you can into your retirement savings plan.
* If you’re married or have a partner, make sure you have enough life insurance.
* If you’re confident the principal in your retirement plan will provide a sufficient income stream at retirement, you can begin to move some of your savings into lower risk investments.
* Investigate long-term care insurance to protect your retirement savings from being depleted in the event you need in-home, assisted-living, or nursing home care.

(ARA) – How do you plan to spend retirement? Will you be doing all the things you wanted to do when you were younger but didn’t have the time or resources for, or will you be at the mailbox waiting for your welfare check?

According to Prudential Financial’s 2008 Study on the Financial Experiences and Behaviors Among Women, while 80 percent of women desire to achieve a secure retirement, only 18 percent feel confident in their ability to do so.

“That’s a discouraging number, but one we’re trying to do something about it,” says Mary Flowers, vice president of Global Communication at Prudential. In the nearly 10 years her company has been studying the financial habits of women, she says there has been significant progress in their overall financial knowledge and confidence, but there’s still room for improvement.

For example, when asked about their level of preparedness for making financial decisions that would affect their retirement, 50 percent of women said they felt like they were on track. The other 50 percent was a little behind where they needed to be. Break it down by generation and 43 percent of Millennials (ages 25 – 29), 45 percent of GenXers (ages 30 – 42), 51 percent of Boomers (ages 43 – 61) and 37 percent of Mature women (ages 62 – 68) said they still need help in select areas when it comes to planning their financial future.

That is evident when you consider that 60 percent of respondents don’t understand how annuities work; 45 percent are unsure when it comes to estate planning, trusts and wills; and 42 percent have trouble understanding long term care insurance. Women were also asked where they turned for financial information currently. While more than 50 percent of those surveyed named a financial advisor (34 percent) or friends and family (19 percent) as the most preferred source for learning about financial and insurance products, a growing number of women say they are turning to the Internet for information.

In considering various media outlets, the Web sites of financial services firms are seen as the most credible source of information with other Internet and marketing sources trailing in “credibility.” Realizing how important it is to provide women with the reputable source of educational information they are looking on to help close their confidence gap and identify solutions to achieve their goals, Prudential recently launched “Women & Money,” a free resource that can be accessed at

The site offers advice from a range of financial experts from Prudential, as well as an ever-changing mix of external guest columnists. For example, Discovery Network’s chief medical correspondent, Dr. Pamela Peeke, provides tips on how women can find a balance between their health and wealth; author and noted women’s expert Mary Lou Quinlan discusses career strategies. There are also checklists that will help women at different stages of life come up with a financial plan that will ensure they’ll live comfortably in retirement.

“Women & Money offers fresh and engaging content in a manner that allows them to quickly select the content most relevant to their situation. We recognize the time constraints and juggling acts that many women are faced with, and we’ve developed a site to help them make the best use of their time, while making it easy for them to share their findings with their trusted network of family and friends,” says Flowers.

In addition to great information, the site also features interactive tools, including calculators and worksheets, which are readily available to help women analyze their personal financial situation and implement a plan to help them improve their financial situation. In addition, women can submit their own personal stories, as well as read those of peers to learn lessons and real life success strategies.

Gone are the days when years of hard work for a company would guarantee a pension. They’re just not being offered any more. And many question whether or not Social Security will even be around by the time those entering the workforce today retire, so it’s up to women to plan for their own retirement. For more information on Prudential’s 2008 Women’s Study or on Women & Money, or to take advantage of the financial tools available, visit

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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