Women Starting Over
How to take charge of your financial future
Women are more educated, earn higher incomes and have a more powerful role in the workplace than women of previous generations. But in spite of this progress, 90 percent of women say they feel financially insecure, according to the 2007 Allianz Women, Money and Power Study. The vast majority of women will need to take financial responsibility at some point in their lives, so it is vital that they have the knowledge and confidence to take charge of their financial future.
A 2009 report by The Women's Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER) says that women are particularly vulnerable going into retirement. The findings in "How Can Women's Income Last as Long as They Do?" show that:
* Women at age 65 are expected to live, on average, another 20 years - four years longer than men. That means they will need to save more for retirement.
* Less than one third of retired women today receive pension income. And less than half of today's working women have access to a pension or retirement savings plan through their jobs.
* For more than 40 percent of older women living alone, Social Security is virtually all that they have. This group is four to five times more likely to be poor than married couples.
"Each stage of life holds events that can shape your financial needs and impact your ability to achieve long-term goals," says Katie Libbe, vice president of Marketing Solutions for Allianz Life. "Divorce and widowhood are two stages that have significant financial impact for women, so they need to learn how to take control of their financial futures."
Here are some tips to help begin the process of starting over.
Gather all the information you need to evaluate your current financial situation. These include:
* Checking and savings account statements
* Credit card information
* Tax returns
* Social Security records
* Investment information - stocks and bonds certificates, mutual fund statements
* Insurance policies - homeowner's, life, auto, health, long-term care
* Retirement assets - 401(k), pension, IRA, ROTH IRA, annuity statements
* Wills and powers of attorney
Evaluate how much money you will need for the next six to 12 months and keep that money in an easily accessible account in your own name.
* Pay Your Bills. Failure to pay your bills can result in bigger problems due to late payment fees, interest charges, and damage to your credit history.
* Take it Slow. Don't make any major purchases or changes right away. Give yourself time to heal emotionally before rushing into major decisions.
If you don't already have a financial advisor, it may be advisable to get one. "A professional financial planner can help you improve your current financial management and help you through these challenging changes," says Libbe. "Their expertise and objective perspective can save you time, and help you invest for your future."
To find a qualified financial advisor, you can ask trusted friends or professionals, such as lawyers and accountants, for references. You can also get references from professional associations such as the Financial Planning Association, the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, or the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
Make sure that you have a support network made up of trusted family, friends and professionals who can give you feedback, go with you to meetings and help you follow up on the actions you need to take.
For more information on finding a financial advisor and to download free financial checklists for the widowed or divorced, visit allianzlife.com/WomenMoneyPower.
Illustration courtesy of Getty Images
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