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The Best Way for Single Senior Women to Retire

Kimberley Fowler
By Kimberley FowlerMarch 21, 2018
The Best Way for Single Senior Women to Retire

The concept of retirement is often marketed to us as an image of two beautiful people in their prime experiencing good health and financial freedom; however, for many people, retirement does not look this way and often does not include being one half of a couple.

In fact, according to Time, approximately 40% of women aged 45-64 years old are unmarried (due to divorce, the death of a spouse or chosen singlehood), and as they continue to age, this percentage steadily increases.

What Single Senior Women Should Consider Before Retirement

If you are an unmarried woman, planning for retirement on your own may be a frightening prospect. A report published by CNBC reveals that “roughly 55 million single women in the U.S. are in a far more precarious position than married women – as well as all men – when it comes to retirement savings,” and that approximately 40% of unmarried women (of all ages) have saved less than $1,000 for future retirement.

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Women have traditionally been at a financial disadvantage and CNBC reports that they are 80% more likely than men to be impoverished at age 65 or older because they:

  • Contribute less to work-based retirement savings plans – often due to career interruption while raising children
  • Earn less than men – approximately 79 cents on the dollar
  • Lack experience in financial planning – approximately 36% of unmarried women underestimate the amount of money they need to save for retirement
  • Live longer than men

Although it may seem that single women in their senior years are fighting an uphill battle when it comes to planning for retirement, there are many ways you can gain control of your finances and embrace your future.

Check out the following tips on how to make the most of your finances and maximize your enjoyment of retirement life:

1. Consider Other Housing Opportunities

For single senior women, a “traditional” condo or retirement residence may be unaffordable; however, there are unique living options available all over the U.S., such as co-housing communities. An article published by the Huffington Post describes a co-housing community that offers a common building where people can share meals and social activities such as classes and group outings, but also have their own private residence. The article explains: “these communities have tremendous social support, which is so important for single women.”

Living with a roommate can also reduce living expenses while providing companionship. The article continues, “an AARP survey found that 57 percent of women are open to a non-romantic roommate — and two can live more cheaply than one.”

2. Embrace Your Independence

Being unmarried in your senior years may not always be a choice. The death of a spouse or “gray divorce” sometimes leaves women of retirement age unceremoniously single. However, according to an article published by The Star, many senior women describe feeling a “new-found freedom,” since being single often follows “a lifetime of sequential caregiving.” A variety of single senior women interviewed for The Star article reported feeling personal reinvention, self-confidence and unity with other women after finding themselves suddenly single.

3. Understand Your Finances

At the end of the day, when planning for retirement, your options come down to your finances and what you can afford. Consider the following suggestions from Time to get on the right path for a comfortable and happy retirement:

  1. Be more aggressive with investing: Women tend to be more conservative and safe with their investments than men, however, it is important to diversify your portfolio and maximize your savings by putting savings into funds that will give you the greatest return and tax benefits.
  2. Consider long-term care insurance: Nearly 70% of those turning 65 will eventually need some form of long-term care, an expense that is often not covered by Medicaid. The sooner you can get insured, the lower your monthly rates will be.
  3. Find a trusted advisor: Ensure you are on the right track with your retirement goals by connecting with a financial advisor.
  4. Start saving now: If your monthly budget is already tight, the idea of saving for the future may seem impossible. However, dedicating what you can manage to savings, even $20 per month, is better than nothing.
  5. Understand the financial benefits you are entitled to: If you were previously married and your spouse died, or you got divorced, you may be eligible for Social Security spousal benefits. Also, inquire about group disability insurance through your employer.

Retirement is a time of change and an opportunity for you to embrace who you really are or want to be.

What other tips do you have for single senior women working to retire? We’d like to hear your suggestions in the comments below.

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Kimberley Fowler
Kimberley Fowler

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