Women, wealth & retirement: Financial planning for life



Women need to be prepared for unique challenges and considerations as they plan for retirement, regardless of their age. A key to approaching this period of life with confidence is to have a comprehensive wealth plan in place.

Your plan will help you clearly identify near-term and long-term goals, consider the financial challenges associated with living a long life that could extend to your 90’s or even beyond, and accounts for the potential that unexpected events could impact your plan.

A sound, well-rounded wealth plan that addresses your goals and values will help create more choices so you can work toward a retirement that matches your aspirations. Having a complete understanding of the potential hurdles you need to overcome as a woman is helpful in making your plans a reality.

A starting point – this planning checklist

A strong retirement plan is rooted in strategic thinking and a full understanding of the options available. With this checklist, you can take comprehensive steps toward your short- and long-term goals:

  • Establish a budget – compare your living costs today to what they may be in retirement. Try to determine a sustainable saving and spending plan.
  • Build cash reserves – establish an emergency fund equal to three-to-six months of income that is readily accessible.
  • Leverage workplace retirement plans – try to set aside 10 to 15 percent of your income for retirement, utilizing your 401(k) or similar plan and other savings vehicles such as IRAs.
  • Run the numbers – if you must decide whether to set your career aside to manage family matters, consider the pros and cons for your individual and family financial security.
  • Make catch-up contributions – if you are 50 or older, you have the flexibility to save an additional $6,000 per year in your workplace retirement plan and another $1,000 each year in your IRA.
  • Strategize education savings – create a separate savings plan to help fund higher education costs for yourself or your children.
  • Be informed – develop a working knowledge of topics such as longevity and health care needs, Medicare, Social Security and potential sources of cash flow in retirement.

Building a retirement “paycheck”

Some people are not prepared to make the adjustment that comes when they retire, and no longer receive a regular paycheck from work. Part of the planning process is to determine how to generate reliable income from a variety of sources that can help you sustain your lifestyle in retirement. This can include your personal savings, distributions from IRAs and workplace retirement plans, pension distributions, payouts from annuities, inheritances and Social Security.

The planning process will help you estimate the amount of income you are likely to generate from various sources. More important, it will identify potential income gaps that need to be filled. Increasing savings, changing your spending assumptions or choosing to retire later are ways to overcome such gaps.

A sound, well-rounded wealth plan that addresses your goals and values will help create more choices so you can achieve a retirement that matches your aspirations.

This is a process that should start well in advance of retirement and account for any specific issues you, as a woman, may need to consider. Your wealth management team can help provide guidance about diversifying assets and timing benefits in a tax-efficient manner.

The important role of Social Security

A cornerstone of retirement income cash flow for most retirees is Social Security. It provides a stream of reliable income on a monthly basis. Part of the planning process is to determine at what age you should begin collecting benefits. You can start as early as age 62. But the sooner you start receiving benefits, the lower the monthly benefit will be.

The amount of Social Security you receive continues to rise each month you delay your initial claim for benefits, up to your 70th birthday. As you delay, the amount of the monthly benefit increases by 8% each year. You want to be sure to assess your options and determine how Social Security fits in within the context of your broader wealth plan.

A special consideration is that, on average, women earn less in Social Security benefits than men.1 This is because the benefit is calculated based on the amount of income earned during your working years.

Pursue your potential with a personal, comprehensive plan

As a woman, you want to design a financial strategy for your life that recognizes the importance of your independent achievements and goals while also taking account of the needs of others close to you.

It can be helpful to assess different scenarios that you may encounter in your retirement years. These can range from widowhood to health care costs to inflation’s impact on your expenses if you live a long life and the uncertainties of the investment markets. Key to addressing these potential scenarios is to clearly spell out your personal goals, concerns and aspirations for retirement. An integrated approach to your overall financial situation gives you the opportunity to identify a path to follow on your journey.

We can help set you on the right course

The most important step is to start the process. Our wealth professionals from U.S. Bank and U.S. Bancorp Investments can assist you in developing an individualized, comprehensive wealth plan tailored to your needs and goals.


1 Social Security Administration Fact Sheet, “Social Security is Important to Women,” Sep. 2016.