Financial Planning Estate Strategies Critical elements of an estate plan. Taking steps to help protect your estate is a key financial choice. With proper strategies, you may be able to maximize your opportunities and help manage stress and confusion for your loved ones. This whitepaper outlines critical elements worth considering when creating your own estate strategies. Download Now Unlocking the Treasures to Financial Wellness While finances and health may seem unrelated, the two are often closely intertwined, especially in the U.S.'s bustling, free-flowing marketplace where rising health-care costs sometimes take center stage. Download Now PLAN FOR FINANCIAL WELLNESSWhat does it take to achieve financial wellness? A clear view of your goals ‐‐ along with a solid plan for reaching them and the self‐discipline to follow through. Think of all the ways your efforts could benefit you and your loved ones. Money for emergencies. A college fund for your kids. A comfortable retirement. Financial wellness may lead to all of these things and more.Your financial wellness is mostly up to you. Focusing on your finances now can help you reach all the goals you’ve set for yourself. Why Financial Planning is a Women's IssueIncome Inequality and Its Impact on Women's Retirement Here are the facts. Generally speaking, women earn less than men, live longer than men, and often take time out of the workforce to have children and/or to care for an aging parent or sick loved one. The potential consequence of these realities? While most U.S. workers are facing a retirement savings deficit, for women, the effect is compounded: Lower pay translates into reduced Social Security benefits, smaller pensions, and less retirement savings.Just the FactsYou needn't look far to find evidence of the gender retirement gap. Consider the following facts:Many women will need to make their retirement nest eggs last longer than men's. According to the latest data from the Society of Actuaries, among females age 65, overall longevity has risen 2.4 years from 86.4 in 2000 to 88.8 in 2014. Similarly, among 65-year-old men, longevity has risen two years during the same timeframe, from 84.6 to 86.6 in 2014.1The gender wage gap has a ripple effect over a woman's entire career. The National Women's Law Center has found that a woman starting her career now will lose more than $430,480 over a 40-year career; for Latinas, this wage gap could total $1,007,080 over a career, and for an African American woman, the total wage deficit could reach $877,480.2 Put another way, a woman would have to work 51 years to earn what a man earns in 40 years.2Family caregiving causes career interruptions that can have significant monetary consequences over time. Research conducted by the AARP revealed that family caregivers who are at least 50 years old and leave the workforce to care for a parent forgo, on average, $304,000 in salary and benefits over their lifetime. These estimates range from $283,716 for men to $324,044 for women.3The retirement income gap is very real. The average Social Security benefit for women older than 65 was $14,234 annually in 2014, compared with $18,113 for men, according to Social Security Administration data.4 Research shows that women also receive about a third less income in retirement from defined benefit pension plans and have accumulated about a third fewer assets in defined contribution retirement accounts than their male counterparts.5Progress: Slow but SteadyWhile the evidence is compelling and points out the continuing challenge women face in attaining a secure financial future, there are also signs of improvement for women and their outlook for retirement. For instance, according to the National Institute on Retirement Security's recent study, women are working for more years now than ever before, which helps to enhance their Social Security benefits, pension income, and retirement savings. Specifically, the study found that the workforce participation of women age 55 to 64 has climbed from 53.2% in 2000 to 59.2% in 2015.5 And today as many women as men participate in workplace retirement plans.More broad-based measures, such as legislative action to eliminate the gender pay gap would go far toward leveling the playing field for women when it comes to retirement readiness, yet such policy matters are complicated and outcomes are impossible to predict.Beating the OddsDespite these challenges, many women retire with enough money to relax and enjoy their later years. Here's how they do it:Saving as much as they can: This year you can save up to $18,000 in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, plus a $6,000 "catch-up" contribution if you are age 50 or older. Your contributions are made on pretax income, which means you're paying taxes on a lower amount.6Becoming educated about other sources of retirement income. No matter how committed you are to saving, chances are your employer-sponsored plan won't provide all of the money you'll need once you retire. Find out as much as you can about Social Security -- and strategies for optimizing your benefits -- as well as IRAs and other investments that can help fill in the gaps.7Make the connection between life expectancy and income needs. Even if you already have a healthy nest egg, it's important to continue saving because you could end up spending 20 or 30 years in retirement, which means you'll have to save that much more.Regardless of your personal challenges, you can take charge of your financial future -- starting today. Contact us if you would like a complimentary review or have any questions.