Financial experts say U. S. women today have made tremendous strides in this 'she-conomy." As a Generation-X woman, I definitely feel I am thriving economically even during the down economic times. And I seem to know more about personal finances and investing than baby boomer generation and other older women.
According to a survey on women and retirement by Wells Fargo, women are further ahead financially but still lag in the area of retirement savings.
The sixth annual Retirement Survey by Wells Fargo & Company looked at middle-class women from their mid-20s to their 60s.
As a Gen-X female who is almost 40, I've separated my lifelong financial goals into three segments: my debt, my children's college costs and retirement.
Tackling my debt
I tackled my consumer debt in my 20s. I made a vow to myself that I would get out of all credit card debt by age 30. I also paid off my student loans by 30. It wasn't easy, but I did it by living far below my means. Even though I was making at times as much as $5,000 in a month, I lived in a humble duplex, paying a rent of just $500 a month. I got out of debt by following the "snowball method" of debt reduction. I paid the smallest debt first and then tackled the next highest debt with the money freed up from paying the prior debt.
Tackling my children's college
At this time in my life, I'm focused on helping my sons pay for their college tuition. After they graduate from college, I'll be able to make retirement savings my No. 1 priority. I am saving 10 percent for retirement as I also contribute to my sons' pay-as-you-go plan. I am able to get a bit of a tax break by helping to pay their tuition each semester. As a woman, I feel a great sense of pride in being able to help my sons.
Tackling our retirement
My financial priority will shift to retirement in about 5 years when my sons are out of college. According to the Wells Fargo study, just 54 percent of women compared to 62 percent of men said they are confident they will have enough for retirement. Women have saved a median of $20,000 for retirement versus $25,000 for men. Women are aiming for a median of $200,000 for retirement versus $400,000 for men. I personally estimate I'll need $1 million for my husband and I to retire as a couple. It's important for me as an independent Gen-X woman to be able to contribute at least half to our shared retirement goal.
It's surprising to me that the women surveyed aimed to save only half as much for retirement as men. Women generally live longer than men and need more for retirement. I'm going to bump up my retirement savings from 10 to 30 percent when I'm in my mid-40s. Since I enjoy working, I'll probably keep at it until I'm 70.
As a woman, I do all my own investing and I handle the family budget. I have a full-time job outside of the home. I made about the same amount as my husband this past year. I can definitely say I'm thriving in this she-conomy.
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