A Singles Guide to Successful Retirement
For most of us, saving for retirement is a challenging task. But for a single-income household, retirement finances can be a particularly steep hill to climb—one marked by concerns and obstacles that couples with a dual income may not necessarily face.
A 2020 Retirement Confidence Survey conducted by the Employee Benefit Research Institute found that married workers are more likely to feel confident in their ability to afford a comfortable retirement than unmarried peers (82 percent versus 56 percent). The same report reveals that married workers are also more likely to express confidence in other financial aspects of retirement, such as having enough money to take care of basic expenses (87 percent versus 62 percent of unmarried workers); medical expenses (77 percent versus 54 percent), and having enough money to last their entire life (74 percent versus 47 percent).
For single women saving for retirement, the picture is even more concerning. A second study from the Employee Benefit Research Institute, this one focused on Gen Xers, found that single women made up fully half of the people in their study cohort who were at risk of not having enough money to cover basic retirement expenses. In fact, the anticipated shortfall for single women was $73,000 or twice the estimated average shortfall for single men and more than triple that of widows.
Ask financial advisors how to change this reality and you'll often hear familiar advice: Max out your 401(k) to earn those invaluable matching employer contributions, live below your means, find ways to generate additional income. Repeat.
While all of those steps are certainly important, as a slightly different take on how to address this challenge, we asked five singles who are well on their way to a securely funded retirement to share some of the approaches and steps that have proved particularly beneficial. Here's what they had to say.