Reaching retirement is an exciting milestone, and one you may be eager to achieve. Preparing for retirement isn’t just about following a diligent saving and investing plan. It is about imagining what you want your life to look like on the other side of the finish line. In fact, many women don’t consider the planning required to create a retirement that is fulfilling, meaningful, and exactly what you always wanted.
Below we’re reviewing the importance of focusing on your health and wealth as you prepare to transition to retirement.
Your Well-Being: Health
The cost of healthcare tends to rise sharply in retirement. According to the 2023 Fidelity Retiree Health Care Cost Estimate, a 65-year-old couple should expect to spend around $315,000 in lifetime healthcare expenses during retirement.1
Regardless of your health status going into retirement, it’s important to prepare for the possibility of your health declining in the future. The good news is, there are certain measures you can take now — such as developing healthier habits — that can help you reduce your risk of major health issues (especially early on in retirement).
At the minimum, the CDC recommends that adults 65 and older exercise at a moderate-intensity level for at least 150 minutes a week — or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity workouts like running or hiking. For context, 150 minutes is as little as 30 minutes a day for five days.2
In addition, they recommend focusing on strength training at least two days a week, which is especially important for women (as they tend to lose muscle mass earlier in life than men). Throughout the week, the CDC also encourages women to regularly incorporate activities designed to improve balance, such as yoga, pilates, or tai chi.
It’s worth noting that while these are the minimum recommendations established by the CDC, a recent Harvard Study found that adults who exercise more than the recommended amount reduce their risk of disease or early death even further. Adults following the CDC’s recommendations reduced the risk of early death by about 21%, while those who exercised two to four times the minimum lowered their risk by around 31%.3
Everyone’s journey looks a little different. What makes sense for one woman might be different than what makes sense for you. The important thing is that you want to be able to enjoy your retirement to the fullest. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and keeping yourself active is key to making the most of your financial independence.
Your Financial Well-Being: Wealth
The other key building block to a happy and successful retirement is ensuring you will never outlive your savings. This is an especially challenging hurdle for women for several reasons.
First, women are overwhelmingly more likely to be caregivers to someone else (such as a parent or in-law) than men. Being a caregiver is an incredibly important responsibility, but it’s also one that can impact your ability to save for retirement. In fact, one study says, “In total, the cost impact of caregiving on the individual female caregiver in terms of lost wages and Social Security benefits equals $324,044.”4 Between reducing hours at work, passing up on promotions, and spending their own savings, women caregivers need to address this gap in savings when preparing for retirement.
In addition, women statistically live longer than men by about 5.9 years.5 Those extra years can equate to a significant monetary impact. Say you plan on withdrawing about $80,000 a year in retirement. $80,000 x 5.9 is an additional $472,000 to account for in your savings plan.
A longer anticipated lifespan also creates additional challenges, such as the need for long-term care, as well as lost income in retirement from things like a spouse’s pension plan or Social Security benefits.
How a Certified Financial Transitionist (CeFT) Helps You Prepare for Retirement
At Northstar Financial Planning, we are passionate about helping you design, prepare for, and enjoy the retirement of your dreams. Our team of CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals and CeFTs put their robust education and experience toward helping women conquer the challenges (like those mentioned above) that stand in the way of a fulfilling and exciting retirement. We take the pressure and stress of strategizing off your plate, giving you the comprehensive support needed to retire with confidence.
If you’d like to learn more about how we support women who are in or near retirement, please feel free to schedule time to talk with our women-led team.