Preparing financially and emotionally for a long retirement is a difficult task for both men and women. However, the task is generally considered more difficult for women for several reasons:

  • Women have longer life expectancies than men.
  • Women are less likely to have defined-benefit pensions.
  • Women typically earn less than men.
  • Women often take time out of the work force to raise a family or take care of other family members.

All these factors typically mean women have fewer resources for retirement even though they spend longer in retirement. To overcome this challenge, women should consider the following tips:

  • Plan for your retirement. Going through the process of calculating how much you need for retirement, deciding how to fund that retirement, and determining when you can retire will make you better prepared to make retirement decisions.

  • Contribute to a retirement account. If you are married, don't rely on your husband's pension -- maximize your own. That could mean a 401(k) plan at work or an individual retirement account (IRA) you set up. Do your best to contribute the maximum
    amount. Invest those funds in vehicles that take into account the long-term nature of your savings.

  • Get involved in decisions regarding your husband's pension plan benefits. If your husband is eligible for defined-benefit plan benefits, he will typically have to choose from among several different options. These options determine benefits when both of you are alive as well as when he dies.

  • Understand your health insurance options. You aren't eligible for Medicare until age 65, even if your husband is eligible before then. If you obtain health insurance from your husband's employer, find out what happens if your husband dies.

  • Consider long-term-care insurance. Since women typically live longer than men, they often spend their later years alone. To make sure someone can care for you and you don't deplete your assets later in life, consider long-term-care insurance.

  • Participate in financial matters. If you aren't familiar with financial matters, including investments, insurance, retirement funds, and estate planning, learn now. That way, if you're ever forced to make decisions on your own, you'll be comfortable with these areas.

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