Financial planning isn't easy or enjoyable for many women. A 2007 study on investing differences between men and women found that women were more likely to feel stress when it comes to making investing decisions. The good news? Because women are likely to be more cautious in their investments, they're less likely to make bad or risky choices with their money.
Whether you're a breadwinner or a stay-at-home mom, women also have a couple of extra considerations that men aren't always confronted with. Here's what women are up against:
- Women usually live longer than men. This is why life insurance is often cheaper for women—they represent less risk. At the same time, it means they have to fund a longer retirement, and deal with more years of inflation draining the purchasing power of their dollars.
- Women usually earn less than men. Paycheck equity is not a sure thing, even in this day and age. In 2012, women earned just 80.9% of what men earned each week (based on a study performed by the Institute for Women's Policy Research).
- Women are more likely to serve as caretakers for their spouse and other family members. Because of this, they're often out of the workforce or have to limit their working hours. This leads to less income, fewer employment benefits, and less money to sock away in a retirement account such as a 401(k).
So, given that women have to worry about a few extra years and a little more inflation, what are some basic steps women can take to secure their financial futures?
- Ask for a raise. Research your job on sites like salary.com to find out what others in your position with your experience are making. Next, make a list of the reasons why you deserve that raise. How have you positively affected your company's bottom line? Have you brought in new business, or saved the company money by streamlining a process? Ask for a meeting with your boss where you raise these points and ask for your raise.
- Protect your paycheck. Your most valuable asset is your ability to earn a paycheck. If you are sick or disabled, you can't work...and you can't earn a paycheck. Disability insurance pays you if you can't work. You can buy a disability insurance policy, or you can look into disability riders for a life insurance policy that will pay your premiums (and make cash available to you) if you become disabled.This is especially important for single women who don't have a spouse's paycheck to help pay the bills during a disability.
- Find a way to supplement your retirement income. The future of Social Security is uncertain. Pensions are rare. The market's volatility can decimate the value stocks and mutual funds at a moment's notice. Permanent life insurance with cash value that builds over time is a great way to supplement traditional sources of income with steady, guaranteed growth.
- Make friends with your financial advisor. A 2007 study found that women are less likely to start investing gradually than men. If you find a financial advisor who understands your needs (and your fears or worries about investing), set up a periodic meeting to go over the state of your portfolio. Quarterly or half-yearly is probably enough to keep you on the right track.
The video below will show you more ways life insurance can help you during your retirement: