A common fear of women planning for retirement is that they will outlive their money. Their concern is founded in the simple fact that they are living longer. A woman’s life expectancy in the U.S. is 81 years, five more years than the average man.
While the statistic is a positive one, it is also causing women to ask themselves whether they’ll ever get to truly retire and how much money they really need to save. Compounding these concerns is the trajectory of health care costs and issues surrounding Social Security and whether it will be around as a safety net.
For most women, retirement planning often revolves around two main considerations: cash flow and health care. They want to know how they can create an income stream that will last through retirement, as well as how they can continue to pay for health care while living on a fixed income. The good news is that there are solutions available to help meet these needs.
Below are three options especially suited to women planning for a potentially lengthy retirement.
An annuity with an income guarantee is one cash flow solution women should consider if they’re concerned about running out of money. This type of annuity can be structured many different ways to meet an individual’s needs, including providing a specific, guaranteed level of income for life, backed by the claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company. This income can be for the duration of the purchaser or spouse’s lifetime. Alternatively, the annuity can also provide a lump sum payment at some point in the future.
Life insurance with return of premium or long-term care riders
When it comes to the cost of health care, women have a lot to consider. Because women traditionally live longer than men, they face additional years of potential health care costs that can eat away at savings. Traditional long-term care insurance has been around for years, but there are new alternatives that offer enhanced flexibility. For example, certain riders offer a death benefit to designated beneficiaries if the care is never needed. Others allow the purchaser to cancel the policy and get money back if they later decide it isn’t right for them. These enhancements eliminate previous drawbacks to purchasing the coverage, including fearing that the money will be wasted if it’s never used.
For the more risk tolerant investor, another way to generate cash flow is through dividend-paying stocks. Even in the current economic environment, there are healthy companies with excellent core fundamentals that also pay dividends. The dividends can be reinvested or paid to the shareholder directly as income. If the investor has a long time horizon and doesn’t need the income in the near future, the reinvestment of dividends becomes a great way to build a retirement portfolio. As that investor’s needs change, the reinvestment can then be changed and the dividends paid directly as income. Remember, however, that stock-market investing involves risks, including potential loss of principal.
The financial solutions detailed above have provided assurance to many people who previously were not aware of how individualized financial planning could be. There is no “one size fits all” solution; every person is different. When evaluating a potential financial advisor, make sure he or she understands your unique needs and goals, and use that information to come up with creative ways to ease or even eliminate your retirement worries.