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  • Campaign for a Secure Retirement: March Blog Series #1

     

    What are you waiting for? Why women need to save more and how to get started.

     

    Saving is important for everyone, but women especially face unique challenges when it comes to saving and preparing for their retirement. Not only do women live longer than men on average, but they are also more likely to earn less than men over the course of their lifetimes and have less money in savings and pensions. Women often take time away from work for caregiving responsibilities, which impacts earnings, savings and ultimately their Social Security benefit as well. If you are not actively saving and planning for retirement, it’s time to look at yourself in the mirror and ask why not? Or better yet, tell yourself the time is now!

    There are common money mistakes women make throughout their lifetimes, but perhaps the biggest one is simply not doing anything; having good intentions but then letting weeks, years, and even decades go by before really paying attention to your finances and figuring how you will afford to live in retirement. If you have ever asked yourself when the best time is to start planning, the simple answer is right now!

    If you are ready to start, your next question might be, “where do I begin?” The first step is to take advantage of any retirement plans that might be offered through your employer. Find out what options your employer offers and what you need to do to maximize those benefits. If you are already in a plan, are you contributing at least enough to get any matching contributions from your employer? Can you afford to increase your contribution at least another 1%, 3% or even 5%? Check out WISER’s 20 Ways to Take Advantage of Your Company Benefits Plan brochure for more tips.

    If you don’t have a retirement plan at work, you might consider opening an Individual Retirement Account (IRA), which you can do through almost any large financial institution, including banks, mutual fund companies and brokerage firms. Read WISER’s fact sheets to learn more about a Roth IRA versus a Traditional IRA.   Keep in mind, you don’t need to be a financial guru to save and invest; you can start to make smart financial decisions with good, basic information. It can be overwhelming, but just start by learning the basics and build from there.

    Another new option fAnd my money goes to...or workers without access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan is the “My Retirement Account,” or myRA. Think of it as a starter retirement savings account; workers can open an account with as little as $25, and then contribute $5 or more a month through payroll deduction. In addition, you can withdraw funds from a myRA at any time, tax-free, and there are no fees which can often erode savings in smaller accounts. The myRA is administered by the U.S. Treasury, but once the savings balance hits $15,000, you then roll it into a private sector Roth IRA. Read WISER’s “10 Reasons to Say Yes to myRAs”, and visit the myRA section on the U.S. Treasury website to learn more about this exciting new savings option. Currently you can only fund a myRA using payroll deduction through your employer, but look out for more ways to contribute to a myRA account in the coming year.

    Finally, if you are staring at an empty savings account and starting from scratch, the most important thing you can do is find ways to save each day and start to build up your savings. It’s okay to start small—if you stick with it, you will see that savings account grow. As your savings increase, you can start to look at other ways to invest your money for retirement. WISER has lots of information to help you budget and save. For more great tips and ways to save, check out the America Saves Campaign at www.americasaves.org, and the Choose to Save program at www.choosetosave.org.

    Be sure to check out our blog next week to learn about the importance of Social Security for women’s retirement, with tips to help you better understand and maximize your benefits.

     

    The “Campaign for a Secure Retirement: Helping Millions of Americans Plan and Save for Retirement” is a joint, national educational retirement campaign to encourage retirement planning and saving and to promote the online Social Security Statement, available through my Social Security, as an important retirement planning tool. Campaign partners include the Social Security Administration, America Saves, American Savings Education Council, and WISER. If your organization wants to help others understand the importance of saving for retirement, take our pledge.

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    WISER

    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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