Women, don’t wait to start a retirement fund!

Learn how the changes in 2012 can help you

If you are a woman, retirement should be on your mind no matter how old you are! How do you know if you will have enough money to cover your expenses when you join the life of leisure? A 2010 study found that 92% of women don’t feel educated enough to reach their retirement savings goals, but that 56% of them want to be. Planning ahead is key! Several studies show that retiring is harder for women than for men.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, life expectancy for women is 84 while men usually live 81 years. This means that women have to stretch savings three years longer than men and many women don’t have their own retirement accounts. In some cases women are not able to access retirement benefits due to the fact that they have family obligations that prevent them from working or they only hold part-time position that don’t offer retirement plans.

The other difficulty women face is that they are not trained to think about money in the same way men are. In the past, men were in charge of managing financial issues such as paying bills, investing, and planning for retirement. Even though this trend is being reversed, women still think less about their finances and retirement than men.

Our message here is simple – start looking at retirement investments now and if you have a 401 (K), IRA or a Roth IRA keep an eye on it and make sure you are included in long term investment strategies.

There are some changes this year to retirement accounts and they are:

Higher 401(k) contributions: The contribution limit for 401(k) increased to $17,000 in 2012 for those who are under 50, up from $16,500 in 2011. Take advantage of this change and contribute all you can to your investment plan. In that way, your taxes will be lower and your employer may contribute more to your retirement savings if they match your funds.

Use tax credits to save more: Workers who contribute to a retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401(k) may be able to get a tax credit of $500 more than last year. Single workers can get $1,000 in tax credits or $2,000 if married. In order to receive the credit, you can only have an income of up to $28,750 – so this won’t help most people, but if you do qualify you can use the money from the tax credit to open a retirement account. Start by putting 5 percent into the account and then increase that amount by 1 percent every year until your reach 10 percent. Over the years, the account will build interest, and when retirement comes, you will have more money than what you initially put down!

Increased IRA income limits and Roth IRA contributions increase may help you: IRA contribution limits are $5,000 this year and $6,000 for those who are 50 and older. Tax breaks increase $2,000 for those who make under $58,000 or $92,000 if you are married. The income limits for people who contribute to a Roth IRA have gotten more lenient and are between $110,000 and $125,000 for singles, which is $3,000 more than last year. For married couples, the limits are $173,000 to $183,000, $4,000 up from 2011.