Retiring as a Single
During the past half century, the number of married couples in the U.S. has been steady declining. According to a study published in The Gerontologist, approximately one-third of Americans between the ages of 45-63 are currently single. Most of these have never been married, although many were once married but are now divorced.
In addition, the study also reveals that women have been having fewer children during these past five or six decades. What that means to Baby Boomers (those individuals born between 1946 and 1964) in or near retirement is a potentially smaller support system to help with life guidance and basic care.
Being single can have a significant negative impact on your retirement years. One major reason for this is that, unlike with couples who often have double incomes during their working years, singles only have the one, leaving them less each month for saving/investing for retirement. Single women are typically even more disadvantaged in this respect because of the disparity most are subject to during their working years in the area of income inequality.
Experts agree that those with a less secure financial safety net should work to establish one that’s more sturdy. The best and most common directive to begin getting this underway is the age-old adage, “pay yourself first.” This may be especially important for singles.
Paying yourself first simply means putting a portion of your weekly or monthly income into a savings vehicle automatically, before spending money on your bills, your groceries, your entertainment or anything else. How much you dedicate to your pay yourself first program would depend on how much money you typically have after taking care of all your regular expenses. It should represent a specific percentage of your income.
For some, 30% may be a doable amount. For others, on a tighter budget, you may only be comfortable with 1% to 5%. Here are some rules to go by:
✓ Take your pay yourself first percentage and put it in your savings first, before spending on anything else.
✓ Your savings vehicle may be a bank savings account, your IRA, 401(k) or a low-cost index fund. Avoid investing in individual stocks.
✓ When changing jobs, don’t roll over your 401(k). This will keep a lower cost basis for your investment.
✓ Once you’ve established the pay yourself first habit, it will become easier and more automatic, although it might seem a little tough at the beginning. Stick to your guns. Always pay yourself first.
Other Considerations for Aging Into Retirement
Your plan for retirement should include more than just a savings and investment strategy. Buying a long-term care insurance policy makes good sense, especially for women, since they typically have a longer life expectancy.
You may also consider putting together a financial team made up, for example of a financial adviser, an accountant and a lawyer. This team can help assist you in creating and sticking to your retirement plan – especially important for singles without a partner to help keep them on track.
Another important aspect of a successful retirement is having a team to help you keep emotionally grounded. Sometimes, one of the biggest issues retirees have to deal with is loneliness. You’ll want to have family or a close community of others facing the same situations as you. Make new friends and keep the ones you now have.
Dealing With the Inevitable
We’re all getting older, day by day, and most of us will face retirement sooner or later. Retirement can be fun and enjoyable for those prepared to make the best of their golden years.