In 1920, women fought for the right to vote. In 1974, single and divorced women were finally able to secure a credit card without needing a male cosigner. While we’ve made many strides, Women’s History Month reminds us that there is still a long way to go to ensure equality for all women everywhere. In the area of finance, and retirement specifically, there is still work to be done. For a variety of reasons, including wage disparities, the fear of outliving one’s savings is still a major concern for many women in 2021, as it was in 1921.
“In a 2019 Protected Lifetime Income Index Study, a Census-balanced survey recently conducted by the Alliance for Lifetime Income found that women lag men in several key indicators of retirement preparedness, including (1) their likelihood of having a general financial plan for retirement, (2) their use of professional financial advice, and (3) whether or not they have a source of protected lifetime income other than Social Security.” Approximately six out of 10 women in the study did not expect their income to last through their lifetime, while fewer than 50% of the men surveyed voiced the same concern.*
With 69% of women as sole heads of households, living without a spouse or partner, and six out of 10 women voicing outliving their savings as major concern, here are some strategies that may help address some of those concerns:**
1- Build an Emergency Fund – Sometimes when it rains it pours. Saving up for a rainy day (like a sudden job loss, unexpected medical expenditure or a natural disaster) is one of the smartest places to start. While a credit card can help in some emergencies, using cash means you can avoid the added fees and interest. Six month’s salary is often touted as an ideal goal.
2- Protect your Assets – It’s not all about savings. The right insurance coverage may also play a role in your financial strategy. Even if you’re offered some basic types of coverage through your employer, you may find additional coverage or options wise to consider. Being well insured can save you major headaches down the road.
3- Never Stop Learning – Even if you have a financial professional helping you build your strategy, it’s still important to stay engaged and aware. The more you educate yourself on the financial issues you may face as a woman (like wage gaps, time out of the workforce, and longer lifespan), the better prepared you’ll be when life throws you a curveball.
4- Consider Investing Differently – On average, women tend to live longer than men, meaning you’ll have more years ahead that you’ll need to finance. Given women’s unique financial needs and challenges, it makes sense to talk to your financial professional about long term investment strategies that might be particularly advantageous to you.
5- Prepare your Legacy – “Getting your affairs in order” needn’t be a morbid exercise that you delay until the end of your life. Ideally, it’s something you’re already thinking about now. Your estate decisions matter, whether that means keeping your beneficiaries updated, making extended care decisions, or preparing a legacy to leave your loved ones.
This Women’s History Month is a good time to honor women’s futures as well as their pasts, and a good reminder that when women win, everyone wins.
** FMG Suites
Cheri Blair is a financial planner and the founder of Cheri Blair Financial Services, where she provides client-centric financial planning services that equip and motivate her clients to pursue financial independence. With 25+ years’ experience, Cheri uses a relationship-based approach to help individuals and small business owners build a financial plan customized to their life situation, goals, and vision for themselves and their businesses. Because of her own financial journey, Cheri knows firsthand why it’s so essential for women to not only understand their finances but also feel empowered and confident when making their financial decisions. In addition to her one-on-one work with her valued clients, Cheri also provides informational seminars and workshops to further her mission of educating, supporting, and inspiring women with financial literacy. To learn more about Cheri, connect with her on Facebook and LinkedIn.