My husband earns about twice as much as I do, but I'm better prepared for retirement. As a Generation-X woman, I've had a better grasp on my personal finances compared to women I know in the older generation.
According to a recent article by Kiplinger, studies indicate that baby boomer women haven't planned for retirement. A study by the U. S. General Accounting Office showed the poverty rate for women 65 and older was nine percent in 2010. That's almost twice the rate for men, which was 5 percent. Women between the ages of 50 to 69 (baby boomers) have 20 percent less in retirement compared to men.
I made a few key decisions in my life so that I'd be well prepared for retirement, which is about 25 to 30 years off in the future for most people in Generation X.
Working while raising children
Every day was "take your child to work day" when my sons were young. I worked as a freelance writer out of my home office, often taking them with me on assignments so they could learn about the world. According to the study, older women have not saved enough for retirement because they took off time to raise children. I never viewed my children as a barrier to earning income.
Contributing consistently to accounts
When I worked as a freelancer, I didn't have any job benefits such as a 401(k). I opened a Roth IRA so that I could start making regular contributions toward retirement. When I took a full-time job in 2001, I immediately took advantage of the 401(k) plan. My husband and I now contribute the same percentage amount to our respective retirement accounts. But since I've been contributing longer than he has, I have a higher balance. With this higher income, he may eventually catch up.
Working to full-retirement age
I plan to work until I reach my full-retirement age of 67. However, my husband, who is also in Generation X, anticipates he will need to keep working to 70 and beyond to reach his retirement goals. Because we can't predict the future, it's impossible to know whether we will be able to work beyond a certain age. I'd like to retire as early as possible to let the younger generations have their shot at work opportunities.
Setting down to get ahead
Although I'm better prepared for retirement compared to my husband, his plans aren't too shabby.
My husband and I will have a more secure retirement because we are more settled. Part of being settled means we don't job hop. Researchers say people who don't switch jobs as often end up retiring with more money.
Also, we are committed to our shared financial destiny and marriage. As Gen-Xers, we grew up watching the older baby boomers change spouses as often as some people change their sheets. Today's retirees aren't growing old on their front porch with their spouses. In 2009, according to the Kiplinger article, 25 percent of the people who got divorced were of the older generation compared to just 10 percent in 1990.
We plan to stay married and enter retirement with our house paid off. Although our home won't generate us any income during retirement, we will have better cash flow due to fewer expenses.
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