The old adage of earlier is better when it comes to retirement planning and saving still holds true, but due to the disproportionate economic impacts to working women that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought, retirement planning for younger generations of women looks a little bit different from the traditional form, reports CNBC.
The age ranges vary, but for women who have at least 20 years before they would be looking to retire, simply saving for retirement is a start, but it isn’t the entire retirement picture.
Income potential is almost always less for women, especially with the pandemic having further widened the gender pay gap. Beyond that, adding in other compounding factors such as race means that women and racial minorities must push to earn what they’re worth, according to Lazetta Braxton, co-founder and co-CEO of 2050 Wealth Partners and member of CNBC’s Financial Advisor Council.
The first priority should be to contribute enough to a job’s 401(k) plan to benefit from the full employer matching option, and beyond that to reach the annual deferral limit for those types of plans. Only 12% of employees maxed out their contributions to 401(k)s in 2020, according to a report from Vanguard, and this ability to save is driven primarily by how much money is being made and how it needs to be spent.
Younger Women Are Saving in a Variety of Ways
Younger clients are also building themselves a “cushion account” that has between six months to a year’s worth of living expenses saved so that they are shored up for emergencies or in case of career changes. “Younger generations want flexibility,” Braxton said.
Another difference for younger generations of women (18–35) is that they are much more likely to have opened and be investing into a brokerage account at 21, instead of waiting until 30 to begin investing like many women 36 years and older did.
Overall, offering guidance is all about balancing where each client is in their retirement journey compared to their employment and life plans and being able to provide flexibility, particularly for younger generations of women.
“It’s putting all the options on the table and then letting the client make the decision,” said Lauryn Willains, CFP, founder of Worth Winning, and member of CNBC’s Financial Advisor Council. “But realizing there’s not a right or wrong answer to being able to achieve it.”
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