There used to be a fairly common notion that women tend to be more conservative than men with their finances. Yet, aging men and women today both struggle with a shared obstacle in attempting to safeguard their assets: financial indecisiveness. This often occurs when the fear and anxiety associated with making financial decisions results in no action at all – despite the available opportunities.

This financial immobility only seems to worsen as retirement approaches. You may be unsure about how to protect your retirement funds or what to invest in. Especially if you are a retired, single female, investing can seem an incredibly risky gamble to make with your retirement savings.

All these anxieties are understandable due to events like the Great Depression and the market failure in the early 2000s. However, overthinking and hesitation may hurt your financial outlook in the long run. Investing and the asset growth it can provide is a vital consideration since, as people continue to live longer, your retirement could last up to 40 years. Although some individuals may prefer to avoid the risk of the stock market, it is an essential strategy to incorporate within your portfolio to some degree. This is because in order to maintain your lifestyle over a potentially lengthy retirement, you need to build enough revenue by growing your retirement assets.

When you’re on a fixed income, minor fluctuations in the market can affect your purchasing ability. In fact, this is often overlooked as a significant threat to maintaining a retirement lifestyle. Even so, this fact highlights why inaction, or completely avoiding all investment risk, may compromise your future financial security as a retiree. Meanwhile, participating in the stock market – in whichever form of investment you choose – gives your money a chance to keep pace with inflation, or even surpass it.

Another instance of financial indecision can arise when retirees are reluctant to use the assets they’ve spent countless years accumulating. Even though many seniors have pools of money allocated for specific expenditures, they may still be uneasy about utilizing that money. Perhaps a couple has saved $20,000 for traveling. Yet, once they’ve retired, they feel timid about using it for the intended purpose. Other large expenditures for things such as remodeling a home or purchasing a new car can seem intimidating while in the fixed income mindset of retirement.

It’s important to acknowledge that market performance, precise future financial needs, and how long we live are not things we can control. At some point, you need to live in the moment and enjoy your life, knowing that you’ve done your best to prepare for your future financial health and security. Saving everything you can while you are already retired can create a significant mental burden. Instead, focus on using your hard-earned money to enjoy the life and retirement you have built with your loved ones.

Positioning your assets for growth is a smart way to combat the fear of running out of money in retirement. If you are interested in investments, seek out a financial professional so they can create a plan according to your needs, while helping to clarify the risk involved.

Of course, Social Security can also contribute to your retirement income. Your monthly benefits grow by 8% for every year you wait to claim it, after you reach your full retirement age. However, if you claim Social Security before your full retirement age, you will receive a lower monthly payment.1

In the past, many retirement planners recommended that retirees take annual distributions of about 4% from their savings.2 Although the 4% rule can provide a general guideline for retirement, it is certainly not applicable for everyone. An economist from Boston College conducted a study on this topic for the Center for Retirement Research. The study shows that mimicking Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) from a traditional IRA can provide an alternative, yet effective withdrawal strategy for retirement income. This RMD strategy approach suggests taking 3.1% of your assets as an annual income distribution beginning at age 65. Withdrawals increase to 4.4% when you turn 75, then 6.8% at age 85. While these percentages are based only on principal, interest and dividends may also provide additional income.2

Have you considered how much money you may need for your retirement? Are you interested in finding out how to grow your existing wealth? Speak with a financial professional to find out what options your particular situation enables. By establishing a realistic perspective on your finances, you can make confident, informed decisions which may aid in helping you to acquire greater wealth for your retirement.

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1 – [8/22/13]

2 – [7/11/13]