Highlights from Financial Literacy Month 2021

April 30, 2021 – As Financial Literacy Month comes to a close, we wanted to share all the tips, tools and resources for improving your financial know-how that WISER has been sharing all month long. This includes topics like Retirement Planning Basics, Planning and Saving for Emergencies, Financial Steps for Caregivers, and Women and Retirement. To get things started, check out WISER’s Seven Life-Defining Financial Decisions guide to get you thinking about where you are on your financial journey…and where you want to go!

Retirement Planning Basics

Know how much income you will need

Do you know YOUR number? An important and often overlooked step is figuring out how much income you will need in retirement. It may sound like an impossible task but remember, the goal is to get a best estimate that reflects YOUR personal situation. And the good news is there are a lot of easy-to-use online tools that can help. Check out some of WISER’s favorite retirement planning calculators and get in the know!

Know your sources of income

Where is your retirement money coming from? Social Security is a key source of income for most Americans. But do you also have an employer-provided savings plan like a 401(k), 403(b), or a pension? What about IRAs or other money in savings or investments? When planning for retirement, examine all of your sources of retirement income and know what the rules are that apply to each one. WISER’s “Ducks in a Row” worksheet can help.

Know about your company benefits

A typical employer benefits package can be worth as much as 32% of an employee’s income and can include retirement; health, disability, life, long-term care insurance; and flexible spending accounts. Know what your employer provides and take advantage of these opportunities to help protect your future. Read WISER’s “22 Ways to Take Advantage of Your Company Benefits Plan.” No employer benefits? Check out WISER’s website to learn about other ways to plan, save and invest.

Emergency Savings Funds/Saving

Life is full unexpected twists and turns. No matter your age or income, everyone needs an emergency savings fund to help stay on track. It provides peace of mind and a financial cushion that can help keep you out of debt.

Budgets

Do you want to save but feel like you don’t have any money available? The key to finding savings and taking control of your finances starts with creating a budget. Understanding where your money comes from and where it goes can help you find those little pockets of cash to stash. And remember, even starting small and saving just a few dollars a month can really add up. Use WISER’s budget worksheet to help get you started.

Tips on Ways to Save

You can’t talk about retirement planning without talking about SAVING. Saving money now so you have it to spend later is at the heart of financial planning. But saving may not always feel so easy to do. If you are stuck in savings rut take some time during #FinancialLiteracyMonth to learn new tips, tools and ideas to jumpstart your savings. Our friends at America Saves have lots of great ideas and ways to keep you motivated. You can also take the America Saves Pledge and join a community of savers in setting and reaching your savings goals. Save today for a more secure tomorrow! www.americasaves.org

Financial Steps for Caregivers

Caregivers often take on caregiving responsibilities with little notice or preparation. While caregiving can be a rewarding responsibility, it can also have significant financial consequences for both the caregiver and care recipient. Check out WISER’s financial resources for caregivers to help you stay on track towards a more financially secure future.

Family Caregiver Agreements

An increasing number of families are turning to care agreements to help manage caregiving responsibilities. These agreements make the care and payment clear for the caregiver, the recipient, and also for other family members. It can also help avoid family conflicts about who will provide care and how much they will be paid.

Helpful Resources

Caregiving involves a diverse and oftentimes overwhelming range of tasks and responsibilities.  It is important to know where you can go for help. The Eldercare Locator is a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging connecting you to services for older adults and their families. This includes help with support services, housing, transportation, health, elder rights and more. Visit www.eldercare.acl.gov. Or call  800-677-1116.

Caregivers often pay out-of-pocket for expenses related to caregiving. Find out if there are benefits available for your care recipient that can help manage costs. BenefitsCheckUp ®is a free tool from the National Council on Aging that connects older adults with a variety benefits they may qualify for, including healthcare, medications, transportation, housing, food & nutrition and more. Visit www.benefitscheckup.org or call the helpline at 1-800-794-6559.

Special Issues Impacting Women & Retirement

Widowhood

Women are three times more likely to experience the death of a spouse than men. For many women, widowhood means taking on and making important decisions about current and future financial, legal, and personal matters at a particularly difficult time. WISER’s step-by-step “Going it Alone – A Guide for Widows” can help with navigating the immediate financial challenges and making long-term plans for your future financial security.

Divorce

Divorce is a life event that can greatly alter your financial plans. In the midst of divorce, the emotional toll is hard enough to manage along with the many practical issues. Retirement funds may be among the biggest assets you have as a couple, and it is important to know that these funds are not automatically split in a divorce. Learn more in WISER’s guide on Divorce and Retirement.

Social Security

Social Security is a key source of retirement income for most Americans and especially for women for who live longer on average. Get to know your Social Security benefit and understand your options before you claim them. Sign up to access your online statement and other benefit information at  www.ssa.gov/myaccount/

Thanks for celebrating Financial Literacy Month with WISER.

Keep learning, planning and saving!

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