Single ladies: just because you’re living on one income, doesn’t mean you can’t achieve retirement bliss. FOF Jan Cullinane, author of The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement, shows you how.
And, married FOFs, listen up too! According to Jan, “even if you are married there’s an 80-90% chance you’ll be single at some point in your life.”
1. Separate your wants from your needs. Studies have shown that when women are asked what they ‘need’–they include professional hair coloring, vacations, buying gifts for occasions, high-speed internet. These are things that maybe our parents generation didn’t think of as needs. Really think about your needs compared to your wants as a start to your ‘lifetime planning,’ a term I prefer to use over ‘retirement planning.’ When you think of it this way, you’re less likely to put it off.
2. Pay yourself first. Say you’re divorced or widowed and have boomerang kids who return to live with you. Or, say you want to pay for your kids or grandkids education. Take care of your financial needs first–it sounds selfish but it’s not. You don’t want to become a burden on your children and run out of money. Kids have a lot longer of horizon to recuperate than FOFs.
3. Consider downsizing your home. This can be a great way to save money. Let’s say you’re living in the Northeast somewhere and you could sell your home there and live a lot less expensively somewhere else–really think long and hard about that. Your money could go a lot farther. Also, when you choose a home where you’ll spend your post-career years–make sure you can live there as long as you can. Having a first-floor master bedroom, curbless shower, comfort height toilets or non-slip flooring isn’t always what you’ll be looking for when your house hunting, but it’s important.
4. Be flexible about working. Working can accomplish a lot, and not only benefit you with money. It can give you structure, intellectual stimulation and a social life. So, working in your “retirement” years can be a great thing, even if you are scaling back. There are some part-time jobs such as a classroom aid, crossing guard, Starbucks or Trader Joes employee that provide health benefits. We are not talking about huge bucks, but the benefits can go a long way in making your retirement successful.
5. Stay healthy. By exercising and practicing good nutrition you will reduce the odds of falling ill with expensive diseases and conditions. If you do happen to become sick, if you are in good health, you’ll be in a better position to recover.
6. Delay your social security as long as possible. Some people just can’t do that, but if you can and you live long enough you certainly recoup more.
7. Practice. Practice living on what you feel your retirement income will be. Also, practice feeling resilient so that if you’re knocked down you can get back up again. Single women are great at that, because they are responsible for themselves and have developed great social support.