Financial confidence starts with a solid plan
Women are taking charge of their financial futures. Here’s how they can build on their strengths, gain confidence and achieve a secure financial future.
by Jamie OhlMs. Ohl is President of Retirement Plan Services for Lincoln Financial Group. She is responsible for the overall strategy, growth and profitability of Lincoln’s Retirement Plan Services business. She has more than 25 years of financial services experience spanning a variety of areas in the retirement industry including consulting, plan administration, relationship management, product development, asset management and investments. Visit lfg.com
Women often find themselves assuming the role of primary caretaker for their families – ensuring the well-being of everyone else in their lives. It is important for them to also take care of themselves by prioritizing their own financial wellbeing.
The good news is that women understand the importance of saving, recognizing that unexpected events have the potential to disrupt financial stability. Armed with that knowledge, they are taking positive actions to help secure their financial futures.
While the vast majority of financial advice is the same for both women and men – there are some steps that women, in particular, can take to build on their strengths, while also focusing on areas where they can improve – such as taking actions to protect their income and wealth.
Knowledge is power and staying on track matters
Women are not only focused on today, they are also focused on their financial futures and they understand the value of planning for income in retirement. In fact, 90 percent of women say it’s important to stay on track of managing day-to-day living expenses, compared to 79 percent of men1. And while both men and women are optimistic about their financial futures2, women are more likely to say it is very important to save for the future, which includes both retirement and other financial goals1.
Employers and plan sponsors are seen as a top resource for information, and they can play a major part in helping women leverage their financial strengths – especially the importance they place on financial goals. By providing women with benefits like robust retirement plan options that can help in case of an unforeseen event, employers can help with day-to-day financial concerns and saving for the future.
Across the board, women place a higher level of importance on financial goals. The awareness is there. Employers and plan providers simply need to ensure they are educating the people they serve and helping them take concrete steps toward securing their financial futures, like increasing contributions to their retirement plans, taking advantage of employer sponsored retirement plan matches and making catch up contributions.
The first step a person can take is to save something out of every paycheck. Employer sponsored retirement savings plans can allow participants to save on a tax-deferred basis, which is a great advantage – allowing savers to reduce their taxable income for the year. And, if someone is saving even a small amount each month, over a decade or two, that money could grow into something substantial. Many employer sponsored retirement plans also offer a company match. Retirement savers should be sure to save at least up to the match – otherwise they are leaving free money on the table.
Catch up contributions, which are available to people age 50 and older, are another great way to increase retirement savings and prepare for the future. These contributions are designed to help plan participants make up any retirement savings shortfalls. In 2017, the catch up contribution limit for an employer-sponsored retirement savings plan is $24,000 – and what’s great is that this limit does not include the matching employer contribution that an employee may receive3. It’s never too late to save.
Financial protections boost confidence
People who prioritize planning for the future are often less likely to find themselves going down a path they haven’t prepared for because they have tried to anticipate many of the risks that could arise, whether that’s needing long term care or planning for a child’s education by beginning to save early and often.
Women are also more aware than men that unexpected issues beyond their control could affect their financial futures. This awareness sets the stage for women to take steps to help them be more prepared in the event of unforeseen circumstances – if they are made aware of their options. Just 16 percent of women feel very confident that they would be able to cover their current expenses if they were faced with a serious injury or illness, and forty percent of women worry about becoming unable to work and make money due to a disability. Women also feel significantly less prepared than men to protect their wealth from external factors such as taxes, inflation and market volatility2.
Likewise, women have a firm grasp on the reality that unexpected health and other issues can arise at any time – disrupting life and throwing a wrench into financial plans. They can turn this concern into a strength by arming themselves with the right financial protections. For example, enrolling in various insurance coverages through work can help protect income and safeguard financially against the unknown.
Benefits frequently offered through the workplace, such as disability insurance, accident insurance and critical illness insurance, can help provide a layer of financial security in case of emergency. Many women are already taking advantage of these benefits – 63 percent of women offered disability insurance are currently enrolled, compared to 58 percent of men. However, not as many are taking advantage of benefits like accident insurance and critical illness insurance, which can help cover the cost of high deductibles or even provide a lump-sum payout in the case of a serious illness or injury. Just 52 percent of those offered accident insurance are enrolled, and 35 percent are enrolled in critical illness insurance. These types of coverages typically come at minimal cost through an employer2.
Long-term care coverage is another important consideration for women. The majority of caregivers in the U.S. are women, which can often lead to physical, emotional and financial stress – yet only nine percent of women own long-term care insurance. This type of coverage can help individuals ensure their care preferences are met should the need arise in the future, and help protect their families from the often expensive services associated with long-term care2.
Personal guidance drives positive action
Meeting with a financial advisor, saving more for retirement and learning what options are available can help women protect their current and future incomes and help them become even stronger financially.
Research shows that women prefer to learn about money in person. This is particularly important for financial advisors, because 70 percent of women believe an advisor can provide wealth protection strategies they could not find on their own. That personalized guidance drives action. 71 percent of women say in-person meetings motivate them to make positive changes in their retirement savings and investing, compared to 62 percent of men – helping women continue to improve their financial savvy2.
A financial advisor can help women take a holistic view of their retirement plan and their overall finances, from accumulation, to protection to distribution, helping them ensure all considerations are taken into account and planned accordingly2.
Knowledge is the key to financial success. It is important to encourage savers to meet with a financial advisor who can provide one-on-one education and guidance on how to get started and address any concerns they may have about their financial futures. With a solid plan in place, the sky’s the limit for what a woman, or anyone, can save. ◊
About Lincoln Financial Group
Lincoln Financial Group provides advice and solutions that help empower people to take charge of their financial lives with confidence and optimism. Today, more than 17 million customers trust our retirement, insurance and wealth protection expertise to help address their lifestyle, savings and income goals, as well as to guard against long-term care expenses. Headquartered in Radnor, Pennsylvania, Lincoln Financial Group is the marketing name for Lincoln National Corporation (NYSE:LNC) and its affiliates. The company had $236 billion in assets under management as of March 31, 2017. Learn more at: www.lfg.com. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.
1. Lincoln Financial Group 2015 Retirement Power Participant Engagement Survey. For more information, visit http://newsroom.lfg.com/files/doc_library/file/WomenCampaign_SourcedData_3.20.17.pdf
2. Lincoln Financial Group ”The Special Report: M.O.O.D. (Measuring Optimism, Outlook, and Direction) of America on Employee Benefits” 2016. For more information, visit http://newsroom.lfg.com/files/doc_library/file/WomenCampaign_SourcedData_3.20.17.pdf
3. “Retirement Topics – Catch-Up Contributions”, I.R.S. at https://www.irs.gov/retirement-plans/plan-participant-employee/retirement-topics-catch-up-contributions