Preparing for a Single Retirement? 4 Tips for Women

Posted by: Joseph Kuo | October 15, 2021

For women who retire without a partner or spouse to share the financial responsibilities, there can be significant planning challenges involved in preparing for a single retirement.

For women who retire without a partner or spouse to share the financial responsibilities, there can be significant planning challenges involved in preparing for a single retirement. When facing retirement head-on, preparedness is a key component of securing financial stability and independence. Here are four tips women can use to plan and prepare for a peaceful, financially sound retirement.

Don’t Neglect the Retirement Savings Plan

The Department of Labor recommends that retirees prepare to live on 70 to 90 percent of their pre-retirement income in order to maintain their usual standard of living. But women in general face multiple hurdles when it comes to retirement. A 2020 study found that around 51 percent of unmarried women have not saved for retirement. By comparison, that number drops to 24 percent for married women. Women on average have lower career earnings, often due to taking time off to raise families or to be a caregiver for a family member. Women also have a longer life expectancy, making it even more crucial to have a robust retirement savings account.

If you’re living on a single income, saving for retirement may be extra challenging. But the power of compounding can help narrow the gap, and the earlier you start, the more it will help. Developing both a monthly spending plan while still working that automatically sets aside funds for retirement, and maintaining the discipline to not use the funds unless there’s an emergency can go a long way towards improving your retirement savings.

Plan For Long-Term Care

Someone who is turning 65 today will have almost a 70 percent chance of needing some type of long-term care services and support in their coming years.

With that being said, it may be beneficial to consider a long-term care insurance policy to help cover such costs. Even if you have family or friends who can help, long-term sickness or injury may require care beyond what your family can help with physically and financially. How will you be cared for and who will pay for the care? Having a long term care policy can take the stress off of your loved ones and help mitigate the expensive costs of assisted living and long-term care.

Consider Delaying Social Security Benefits

Social Security provides benefits and financial protection via an inflation-protected benefit that will last as long as you live. When it comes to drawing from Social Security, it is advisable to delay this for as long as you can without going past the age of 70.

If you can delay until that age, your income will increase significantly each year. Even though your Social Security benefits can become accessible at 62, your full retirement benefits will only be available once an individual reaches their full retirement age of 70. Any benefits that are received before reaching your full retirement age are reduced by a percentage, which is also determined by birth date. This ranges between 25 and 30 percent.

According to the Social Security Administration, the reduction in benefits is typically permanent. If you were to access your benefits at any point before age 70, the percentage removed would remain even after you have reached your full retirement age.

However, if you were to wait longer than the full retirement age to access your benefits, you will receive the maximum monthly amount, as well as a retirement credit, which is a percentage based on how long you waited, up to the age of 70.

Build a Network of Friends and Acquaintances

Single retirees have a greater risk of becoming socially isolated during retirement. Also, retirees generally no longer have their work network of professional contacts, so those who based their social events on their careers can quickly find themselves with an empty calendar.

Once you retire, maintaining existing friendships, establishing new friendships and participating in activities are great ways to stay active socially. More importantly, studies have shown that strong friendships can actually improve your health and prolong your life.

Some ways to build new friends and acquaintances could include:

  • Attending local events
  • Starting a new hobby or interest
  • Volunteering, which can build a new network of contacts
  • Joining a walking or exercising group

Retirement planning can be substantially more difficult enough for single women. But with the right planning, you can create a stronger future for yourself. And as always, speak with a financial professional if you have any questions.

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