Where to start? I won't bore you with the usual plea to save early and often. Instead, I'll assume that you have the basics covered -- if not, there is plenty to read right here -- and now you need a mini pep rally, perhaps a fresh perspective and a squeeze of lime to really juice up your retirement.
1. Make your plan work for youOne of the intriguing conclusions that Descano has drawn, after many years at the helm of Women & Co., is that traditional financial plans don't always serve women's needs.
Women's lives typically follow a different rhythm than men's, often with more time out from the work force -- to care for kids and again later to care for aging parents -- and/or more time spent working part time.
A retirement calculator that assumes annual raises of 3% a year may not return as useful a result, for example, as one that allows for year-by-year changes and shifting goals, like ESPlanner.
"Women have different financial lives than men do, and their financial plans need to reflect that," Descano says.
2. Assert yourselfWhether you're sitting down with your spouse, money buddy or a fee-only financial planner, make your needs, views and values clear, says Descano (she used to be a planner herself). "You often hear, 'Women aren't interested in money,' when the truth is that they want to hear about money in a way that interests them."
A financial adviser may want to sell you on a certain investment that outperformed its benchmark, Descano says, "when what you really want to know is how that's going to affect your goals -- your desire to give money to your kids or pay for your grandchild's college education."
3. Imagine your future wealthHuman beings have a hard time saving, for countless psychological and possibly biological reasons. (See "Secrets of successful savers.") Policy wonks, economists and lawmakers keep devising new ways to trick us into saving, but you still have to find ways to do it yourself.
One way to overcome the paralysis that prevents you from putting aside money now for the far-off goal of retirement is to visualize, in detail, the life you want. And point out that new Adirondack chairs are not -- sorry, sweetie -- going to help you get there.
Published May 18, 2010