Women must act to overcome financial challenges

Sponsored by Sarah Cecil

International Women’s Day, observed on March 8, celebrates the social, cultural and political achievements of women. Yet, women continue to face many challenges. For one thing, women still encounter gender-specific obstacles to their important financial goals, such as a comfortable retirement. If you’re a woman, what can you do to get past these barriers? 

First of all, you need to recognize them. Here are a few to consider: 

• Longer life spans – A 65-year-old woman is expected to live, on average, another 20.5 years, compared to 17.9 years for a 65-year-old man, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. That’s another 2½ years of life – and 2½ years more of expenses. 

• Lower incomes – Women working full time in the United States typically are paid 80% of what men earn, according to Census Bureau data. 

• More time away from the workforce – Men work an average of 38 years, compared to just 29 for women, according to the Pew Research Center and the Social Security Administration. The gap is largely due to women taking time off to care for young children and elderly parents. Women who work substantially fewer years than men will miss out on hundreds of thousands of dollars in earnings and many years of contributions to 401(k)s or other retirement plans. 
• These statistics certainly are sobering – but they don’t mean you are powerless to improve your financial security. In fact, you can do quite a lot, including the following: 

• Boost your retirement plan contributions – Put in as much as you can afford to your 401(k) or other employer-sponsored plan, and increase your contributions whenever you get a raise. And even if you have a 401(k), you may still be eligible to contribute to an IRA. 
 
• You’ll help yourself by becoming familiar with the special issues women face in meeting their long-term goals. As you know, women have met challenges successfully for a long time. After all, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did – except backwards, and in heels.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

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