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“Do what you love, and success will follow. Passion is the fuel behind a successful career.” Meg Whitman

Planning for retirement is not a one-size-fits-all model. While savings, health, cost of living, and lifestyle expectations are major factors, research shows that gender can play a large role in retirement planning and that women may have additional challenges that should be considered. On average, women will live longer than men, spend more years in retirement as single, spend more money on healthcare, have lower earnings and savings, play a larger caregiving role that may lead to more part-time work, have more work gaps in their careers, and have a greater reliance on Social Security upon retirement.

"The success of every woman should be an inspiration to the rest." Serena Williams

Americans are living longer, especially women. According to Social Security Administration data, on average, a female retiring at age 65 can expect to live another 20 years, 2 years longer than a man the same age. And that is just the average, many will live even longer. This increased longevity may explain why 59 percent of female respondents to FINRA's NFCS reported being worried about running out of money in retirement. Saving for retirement and managing income once you retire are two important aspects of personal financial management, and the earlier you start saving, the better off you will be. 

“Define success in your own terms, achieve it by your own rules, and build a life you’re proud to live.” Anne Sweeney

For many of us, getting started on a financial plan can be the hardest part. Start by writing down three financial goals you want to accomplish. Goal setting and goal attainment tend to go hand in hand. Setting your own goals, and setting a timeline for these goals, also helps put you in the financial driver's seat. Prioritize your goals and set timelines for when you want them to be accomplished. Some of your goals will have hard deadlines like paying for a child's first year of college while others are more flexible, like a home renovation project. For longer-term goals, including funding your retirement, be sure to set interim goals along the way to keep yourself on track. Create separate savings or investment accounts for each of your major goals, and then choose saving and investment options suited to meeting each of your goals based on your time frame and your tolerance for risk.

“For women, financial independence is a matter of necessity.” Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz

Whether you are funding your own retirement it's essential to understand the investments in your retirement portfolio. This includes how you can make or lose money, and how readily accessible this money is when and if you need it. As you get older you may find it necessary to change your asset allocation into investments that are less subject to market ups and downs. Once you retire, the way you manage your income and benefits such as Social Security can mean the difference between living comfortably in retirement, and running short of money down the road. Take the time to get a firm handle on living expenses, spending priorities and how to make the most strategic use of your sources of retirement income. The sooner you do so, the more financially comfortable you are likely to be in retirement.

Take Charge of Your 401(k)

Keep up with your financial needs while avoiding common (and expensive) rollover mistakes. We put together this guide to help you potentially save thousands in taxes and fees, tips for speeding up retirement preparations, and critical mistakes to avoid.