REGION – If you’re a single woman, most of your financial challenges and aspirations may resemble those of single men. Men and women face the same economic stress factors of modern life, and both groups have similar financial goals, such as the ability to retire comfortably. But women still face specific obstacles. You need to be aware of these challenges – and do everything you can to overcome them.
For example, women still face a wage gap. In 2017, women earned 82 percent of what men earned, according to the Pew Research Center. However, the wage gap narrows among younger workers, and may even disappear for highly educated women, especially those in the STEM fields – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Another financial concern for women is connected to their role as caregivers. Women spend an average of 12 years out of the workforce to care for children, elderly relatives, and even friends, according to an estimate by the Social Security Administration. Other studies report different figures, but all the evidence points to women being the ones who take time off from work to care for loved ones. This means fewer contributions to Social Security, 401(k)s and other retirement plans.
Faced with these and other issues, what can you do to help yourself move toward your important goals? Consider these steps:
Develop good financial habits.
Establishing good financial habits can pay off for you throughout your lifetime. These habits can include maintaining a budget, keeping your debts under control, and putting aside some money for a “rainy day.”
Take advantage of available opportunities.
If you work for an organization that offers a 401(k) or similar plan, contribute as much as you think you can afford. At the very least, put in enough to earn your employer’s matching contribution, if one is offered. And every time your salary goes up, increase the amount you invest in your plan. Also, think about opening an IRA, which, like a 401(k), can offer tax-advantaged investment opportunities. If you have children, you’ll also want to explore college savings vehicles, such as a 529 plan.
Educate yourself about investing – and get professional advice.
Some people think investing is just too complex and mysterious to be understandable. Yet, with patience and a willingness to learn, you can become quite knowledgeable about how to invest, what you’re investing in and what forces affect the investment world. And to help you create an investment strategy that’s appropriate for your goals, risk tolerance, and time horizon, you may also want to work with a financial professional.
Discuss financial issues with your future spouse.
If you get married or remarried, you’ll want to discuss financial issues with your new spouse. Specifically, you’ll want to answer questions such as these:
- What assets and debts do each of you bring to the marriage?
- Do you plan to merge your finances or keep them separate?
- Are your investment styles compatible?
- Do you have similar long-term goals?
You and your new spouse don’t need identical views on every financial topic, but you both need to be willing to work together to advance your common interests.
Ultimately, you have a lot of control over your own financial future. And making informed choices can help make that future a bright one.
This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.