What single women should keep in mind when planning for retirement

February 10, 2019

Every week, Simply Money’s Nathan Bachrach and Amy Wagner answer your financial questions. If you, a friend, or someone in your family has a money issue or problem, please feel free to send those questions to yourmoney@enquirer.com 

Nancy from Highland Heights: I’m 59 and single. Is there anything specific or special I should be doing to plan for retirement since I’m not married? 

Answer: Looking into disability insurance should be a top priority for you. According to WebMD, a middle-aged woman is three times as likely as a middle-aged man to become disabled for three months or longer. You need to protect against this potential risk of income loss, especially since you don’t have a spouse’s paycheck to “fall back” on. While most employers offer coverage, you can also buy a private policy. Just make sure your policy covers your “own” job versus just “any” job. 

Women are also 80 percent more likely to be impoverished past age 65 than men, according to a report from the National Institute on Retirement Security. To help combat this, double check how much you’re currently saving. Generally, we suggest saving 20 percent of your take-home pay.  

And consider long-term care insurance options. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates the average life expectancy is 81 for a woman at birth (it’s 76 for a man). This increased longevity means a greater chance you’ll need long-term care at some point. Get quotes on a policy that would cover three to five years and see if it’s affordable. 

When it comes to Social Security, understand that your benefit is based on your highest 35 years of earnings. If you don’t have any earnings for a given year, a “0” will be used (which reduces your benefit). Therefore, if you took time out of the workforce at any point, it could make sense to work a little longer to help boost your future benefit. Also keep in mind that the earlier you claim your benefit, the less you’ll receive on a monthly basis; the longer you wait, the more you’ll receive. 

Here’s The Simply Money Point: As a single woman heading towards retirement, you definitely have a few extra challenges to face. If you’re looking for guidance, consider working with a financial advisor who is a fiduciary (someone legally obligated to make recommendations in your best interest).


Shelley in Newport: I can’t stand budgeting, but I know it’s something I should be doing. Is there anything I can do to make it less painful? 

Answer: Honestly, we don’t blame you. Keeping a detailed budget that tracks every single purchase can be downright dreadful. It can also feel restrictive. No wonder almost 60 percent of Americans don’t have a budget according to a 2016 U.S. Bank survey – it’s just not a very fun process! 

But of course, just because something isn’t fun doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile. Budgeting is still the key way to know how much you have coming in, how much you’re spending, and most important of all, how much you’re saving. But if you’re not someone who likes to keep spreadsheets worth of numbers, here’s an alternative idea: the ‘anti-budget.’ 

The anti-budget is built on the premise that you save your entire savings goal immediately when you get paid, then that’s it – you don’t have to keep tracking your expenses or questioning every purchase you make. For example, let’s say you want to save 20 percent of your take-home pay every month. If you can save that amount from the get-go, then it doesn’t matter if you spend $100 at the grocery store or $150 that month. Those kinds of details no longer matter.

There are a few caveats to the anti-budget, however. For this method to truly work, you need to pay off your credit cards in full each month. You also need to really trust yourself to set aside your savings goal once your paycheck hits your bank account. 

Here’s The Simply Money Point: For those who can stick with it, keeping a detailed budget is a powerful financial tool. But if you want to make your life a little less regimented, the anti-budget can be an alternative – as long as you have the discipline. 

Responses are for informational purposes only and individuals should consider whether any general recommendation in these responses are suitable for their particular circumstances based on investment objectives, financial situation and needs. To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed above to his/her individual situation, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing, including a tax advisor and/or attorney. Nathan Bachrach and his team offer financial planning services through Simply Money Advisors, a SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Call (513) 469-7500 or email simplymoney@simplymoneyadvisors.com.