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The single retiree

If you're like most Americans, you'll spend more of your life single than married. And like many, you may experience those single years while you're preparing for retirement and in retirement.

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Whether you're part of a couple or not, you still should save as much as you can for retirement. The difference between being part of a couple and being on your own is not only a matter of accumulating enough funds, but also of assembling adequate financial safeguards to protect yourself from difficulties such as unemployment and disabling illness.

As a single person, you're the one in charge of saving for your retirement and deciding how to spend those golden years. There's a certain freedom in making those decisions without having to consider anyone else's wants or needs. But the caveat is that you're responsible for assembling and maintaining your own financial and emotional safety net, because you can't automatically count on another salary, retirement plan and caregiver as you age.

"When it comes to expenses in retirement, a single person's will be about the same as a couple's -- 90 percent to 100 percent of what they were pre-retirement," says Robert Pagliarini, CFP and author of "The Six Day Financial Makeover: Transforming Your Financial Life in Less Than a Week."

"There are certain costs, like utilities, property taxes and housing expenses, that are not much less if you are single than if you are in a couple," he says. "But on the savings side, the difference is likely to be substantial -- the single person doesn't have the benefit of someone else working and saving in a 401(k) plan."

Retirement savings
If you haven't saved enough for retirement, join the club. The Employee Benefit Research Institute reports that roughly half of all workers have saved less than $25,000. (See Bankrate's story, "Status of America's retirement" for the gory details.) The average American lives 18 years in retirement and women generally live longer than men.

Because of advances in health care, financial advisers are recommending that Americans save enough to provide for themselves through age 100 or even 110. That's the bad news; the good news is that as long as you've got income, it's not too late to start saving.

While the wake-up call for retirement savings comes later than it should for Americans in general, single people usually wait longer than married people to take retirement saving seriously, says Bob Enright, a certified financial planner with the Burton/Enright Group in San Francisco. "Traditional financial planning is all about making sure that you, your spouse and kids are taken care of," he says. "When you are single, the focus is drastically different. Single people tend to feel more invincible because they haven't had as much responsibility thrown their way so they don't start saving until their 40s or even their 50s."
Next: The simple formula for single saving.
Page | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |
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