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Tip of the Week

Women and Retirement Savings

Planning and saving for retirement may seem like distant goals. Yet saving, especially for retirement, should start early and continue throughout your lifetime. Of the 62 million wage and salaried women (age 21 to 64) working in the United States, just 45 percent participated in a retirement plan – just one reason why savings matters to women.

Investing some time along with your dollars can make a big difference in your retirement security. Here are 5 ways to get started: 

  1. Understand your finances and take charge of your retirement: Find out as much as you can. Talk to your spouse, find out about current and past employers, and check on your Social Security benefit. Even if you are worried about the answers, it’s better to find out now than when you are ready to retire.
     
  2. Take the first step to learn how much you will need to have a comfortable retirement:  The big question is whether your guaranteed sources of income, like Social Security combined with retirement accounts and savings will be enough for a comfortable retirement.  Look at what sources of retirement income you can count on and what you can expect to receive from them.  Some of your expenses may go down, but others, especially health care costs, may go up significantly.  Other factors include how long you will be retired, investment rates of return, and inflation.  If what you have so far does not seem like enough, make a plan to save more.
     
  3. Take advantage of retirement benefits available at your workplace: Financial experts agree that there is no better place to grow money then at work because of the tax advantages.  In addition, if your employer adds matching contributions, that’s free money. The sooner you start, the longer the money will have to grow.  Those over age 50 can take advantage of “catch-up” provisions that help you save more in your 401(k) and IRA plans.  If you are lucky enough to have a traditional, defined benefit plan, make sure you understand why it is a valuable benefit.
     
  4. Take time to educate yourself about Roth IRAs and mutual funds, long-term care insurance, and annuities: There is a wealth of information out there on the Internet, and www.wiserwomen.org is a great place to start. Watch for free classes at local schools and seminars on public television, read magazines and articles on investing for retirement. Investing a little time along with your dollars can make a big difference in your retirement security.
     
  5. Take the time to sound your own alarm! This is your wake-up call: don't put it off!  Many women face challenges meeting retirement income needs, but educating yourself will help you choose savings and investment tools wisely.  Starting to plan now will give you more options later. The promise of retirement is having time for yourself after a lifetime of hard work

To find out how your retirement savings are shaping up, try this nest egg calculator.

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Montana Credit Unions for Community Development (or MCUCD) is the award-winning, charitable arm of the Montana Credit Union Network. A state-wide nonprofit organization, MCUCD works together with the state's credit unions to improve the lives and financial independence of all Montanans.