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  • Archive for October, 2012

    It’s National Save For Retirement Week! Today’s Topic: Company Benefit Plans

    Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

    It’s National Save for Retirement Week 2012! A week dedicated to building knowledge and taking action toward securing your retirement. Each day this week we are going to look at a different contributing factor to retirement and help you increase your understanding of it so that you can take action and be prepared. Today we are looking at company benefit plans.

    One of the best ways to save for retirement is through your company’s benefits plan. What is especially great about employer-sponsored retirement plans is that employers often match a percentage of your contribution to your accounts.  If you don’t contribute at least enough to get the full match, it’s like leaving money on the table!  In additional to retirement benefits, employer-sponsored benefits can include health, disability, life, long-term care and flexible spending accounts. A typical benefits package is worth a lot, often as much as 25% of an employee’s income.  It is up to you to know what your employer provides and to take advantage of those opportunities to help protect your future. Read WISER’s booklet called 20 Ways to Take Advantage of your Company Benefits Plan to learn more about different benefits and how you should approach them.

    While some employers offer retirement plans that provide a guaranteed amount of income per month for life when you retire (also called “defined benefit” plans), most now offer defined contribution plans, which include retirement plans like 401(k) and 403(b) plans.  Since you are ultimately responsible in defined contribution plans for how your money is invested and ultimately managed as retirement income, you need to become familiar with your plan, the investing options available, as well as what fees are associated with your plan.  Check out the WISER defined contribution plans webpage and follow our Related Resources links. Also read our special report, Make Sure You Know the Ins and Outs of Your 401(k) Plan.

    For more information, our five-minute podcastWork those Work-Based Retirement Savings Plans!” covers the basics of employment-based retirement savings plans, including employer matching contributions, investment options, how to avoid tax penalties when you change jobs and how 401(k) and 403(b) plans work. Also listen to our “Know What You Have: Workplace Pensions” podcast to learn about defined benefit pension plans.

    Taking full advantage of company benefits plans is strongly recommended if your employer offers them.  Many people, however, do not have access to such plans, either because their company doesn’t offer them or they haven’t worked enough years or work part-time and are not eligible.  If this is the case, you should still look into ways to contribute earnings to a retirement account.  Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) might be a good option for you.  As with any investment though, you need to do your homework to learn about the different types of IRAs so you can determine what is best for you.  Check out WISER’s fact sheet Roth IRAs.

    Now that we’ve covered the basics of company benefits plans, check back tomorrow for more information about other types of investing!


    It’s National Save For Retirement Week! Today’s Topic: Social Security

    Monday, October 22nd, 2012

    It’s National Save for Retirement Week 2012! A week dedicated to building knowledge and taking action toward securing your retirement. Each day this week we are going to look at a different contributing factor to retirement and help you increase your understanding of it so that you can take action and be prepared. Today we are looking at Social Security.

    We start with Social Security because it is a fundamental building block for retirement security, especially for women. Since women have longer life expectancies, they have a greater chance of exhausting other sources of income. Women reaching age 65 in 2010 are expected to live, on average, an additional 20.7 years compared with 18.6 years for men. Women represent 57 percent of all Social Security beneficiaries age 62 and older and approximately 68 percent of beneficiaries age 85 and older.

    Yet despite its importance, many people do not even understand the basics of how the system works. This can be costly! When and how you claim your benefits can greatly impact how much Social Security income you receive over the years. The more you learn now, the better prepared you will be in the future to maximize the benefits available to you. Use these helpful resources to find out more about how Social Security benefits work and how to best utilize them.

    For a quick test of your knowledge on Social Security benefits, review our Social Security checklist.  Did you know all the answers?  If not, listen to our five-minute podcastMake the Most of Social Security” for an overview of benefits and how those benefits can be affected by early retirement, marriage, divorce, and widowhood.  For example, did you know you may receive Social Security benefits based on your own work record, your spouse’s work record or a combination of both?  You should always receive the highest amount for which you are eligible. For more information, check out this WISER factsheetSocial Security: What Every Woman Needs To Know.

    Social Security is often the first line of defense for women against poverty in old age. Clearly, women have a strong stake in ensuring the financial solvency of the program and making sure that the broad range of benefits remains. Women need to stay informed on the proposals and the debate to reform the current system. Read WISER’s special report on Social Security for a quick update on some current issues.

    For more information on Social Security, including spousal benefits, Social Security benefits and divorce, and a worksheet to help you understand your Social Security statement, visit the Social Security page on WISER’s website. Also visit for lots of helpful information from the Social Security Administration, including how to review your Social Security statement online.

    Now that you’ve got the basics of Social Security covered, be sure to check back tomorrow for information about another important retirement savings vehicle–company benefits!


    About Us

    WISER is a nonprofit organization that works to help women, educators and policymakers understand the important issues surrounding women's retirement income. WISER creates a variety of consumer publications including fact sheets, booklets and a quarterly newsletter that explain in easy-to-understand language the complex issues surrounding Social Security, divorce, pay equity, pensions, savings and investments, banking, home-ownership, long-term care and disability insurance.

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