I talked to Susan Spencer, executive editor of All You magazine, this morning. All You is the women's magazine published by Time Inc. exclusively for customers of Walmart. Spencer said that this magazine finds that its 1.2 million readers are very eager for financial information, anything that will help them manage money and live better on less.
So when later in the day I got a news release from investment firm ING Direct about a survey concluding that "many women are out of touch when it comes to the basics of retirement planning," I was surprised. Like the readers of All You, most of the women I know are very concerned about having enough money to live comfortably in retirement.
The survey reported:
- Seventy-eight percent of women say they lack financial savvy about retirement planning.
- Thirty-three percent let their significant other make the retirement planning decisions.
- Thirty percent have no idea what their main source of retirement income will be.
- Thirty-seven percent of women blame complicated Wall Street jargon as well as trouble managing their everyday expenses as hurdles that prevent them from being savvy about investing.
In all, 65 percent of those surveyed described themselves as "traditional" rather than "modern" women.
I don't think most of us are as backward as this survey would suggest. We can't afford to be. We have to figure out how to pay the bills ourselves because even married couples have to rely on two incomes these days -- and are looking forward to two Social Security checks to see them through retirement.
No matter whether you're male or female, if you're feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of financing a long retirement, you certainly aren't alone. Most of us are a little nervous about this unsettled economy. But allowing yourself to be frozen into inaction is a huge mistake. Get off the dime by taking these two initial steps:
- Find out how much Social Security you're going to get by using this benefit calculator.
- Calculate how much income you likely will be able to draw off your 401(k) or other retirement savings accounts by using this calculator.
If the total looks like less than 50 percent of what you live on now, it's time to put a remedial plan in place. You can work and save yourself out of this hole if you try -- but you have to work at it.