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4 essential retirement planning questions for women

Planning for a secure financial future means making smart decisions today.

This is especially important for women, who face unique challenges on their wealth-building journey, including wage disparities, caregiving duties, and longer retirements with increased long-term care needs.

While women make a huge economic impact—controlling a third of the world’s wealth1 and making up over half of all managerial positions2—they also live in a financial world that mostly caters to men. Developing a relationship with a trustworthy financial professional who understands your concerns, your questions, and your goals is essential for feeling secure in your financial future.

Whether you are a woman yourself, you are married to a woman, or have a daughter, mom, sister, or friend who is a woman, these four questions are essential for securing long-term financial security and confidence:

How much do I need to save for retirement?

While both men and women face the question of “how much is enough” when it comes to retirement, women have other considerations when it comes to retirement savings.

First, women tend to have fewer working years than men, both because they pursue graduate degrees more often3 and because they may experience a career break to care for family members.4

Second, over their working years, women will experience wage disparities, meaning less money available to contribute.

On top of this, women should expect to stretch their retirement dollars further than men, with a longer life expectancy, bringing with it increased long-term healthcare costs.

The combination of these factors means women may need to adjust their retirement savings early to take advantage of compound interest, as well as work with a professional to ensure proper retirement distribution and Social Security strategies to make their nest egg last.

TOOL: Am I on track for retirement?

Do I need long-term coverage?

Because women often live longer than men do, it’s wise to consider long-term care coverage, as they expected to spend $15,000 more in retirement on long-term care than their male counterparts.5 Often extended care covers the need for assistance or supervision with the Activities of Daily Living (ADL)—eating, bathing, toileting, transferring, dressing, and continence.

For most people, the cost of this extended care is a shock, and long-term care planning provides options for covering these costs. More than financial concerns though, planning for retirement healthcare can provide a sense of emotional and physical comfort.

While fewer companies sell traditional long-term care insurance today, you can use different structures of coverage with flexibility if you start sooner rather than later.

TOOL: How much long-term care insurance do I need?

How can I balance risk and returns on investments?

Because of increased longevity, women may need to save more money for the future. Yet many women find it hard to strike a balance between risk and return on investments.6

This means it’s more important than ever to find an investment strategy customized to your individual goals, as well as your current age and when you’ll need funds.

For example, keeping funds invested too conservatively can severely limit growth, making you less prepared for long-term goals.

Attaching timeframes to when you need money helps clarify how much risk you want to take on and when that choice may change.

RELATED: 6 powerful money tips for women from women

How can I protect my future while caring for loved ones?

Since two out of every three caregivers are women,6 these individuals are subject to challenges such as reduced income and increased financial stress. A financial professional can help you strategize how to make up income and investing potential to allow you to live how you choose without putting your future financial security at risk.

If you are looking for financial advice that puts you and your life at the center, North Star is here to help. Connect with an experienced professional and begin the path toward financial confidence today.

1UBS Global Wealth Management. (March 2021). Women’s Wealth 2030.

2U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (January 22, 2021). Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey, Table 11.

3Perry, Mark. (October 14, 2021). Women Earned the Majority of Doctoral Degrees in 2020 for the 12th Straight Year and Outnumber Men in Grad School 148 to 100. American Enterprise Institute.

4 United States Census Bureau. (October 8, 2021). Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC) of the Current Population Survey (CPS).

5Fidelity Investments. (April 2, 2019). Health Care Price Check: A Couple Retiring Today Needs $285,00 as Medical Expenses in Retirement Remain Relatively Steady.

6New York Life Investment Management. (April 2019). Women & Investing Analytical Report.

7Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021).