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Despite the advances women have made over the past few decades in the workplace, they still face unique challenges in planning for a financially secure retirement. The COVID-19 pandemic has simply added to some of their challenges.

Here are some of the steps they can take to help improve their financial security, according to the article, “Women’s Financial Challenges Just Got Greater Because of COVID-19 Pandemic,” written by Melissa Kivett, Managing Director and Head of Enterprise Relationship Management with Prudential:

Break the taboo around money talk with friends and family. Some still think talking about money is a faux pas. Be involved in the daily management of your family’s finances and talk about money with your spouse.

Create a budget early on to keep spending on track—and stick to it. Budgeting may uncover ways to pay down debt and free up more money to put toward other financial goals.

Build an emergency fund. Without one, losing a job or incurring an unexpected expense could force you to incur additional debt.

Start saving early, commit to the automatic escalation of contributions to a 401(k) plan, and contribute at a rate that, at a minimum, maximizes the company match. When both spouses have access to a 401(k), both should contribute to their own plan so they don’t forfeit any company match that might be available.

Track retirement savings progress in terms of an income goal rather than a savings goal, targeting a realistic retirement age.

  Think longer term. Single women and women in two-income households need to think long term because they generally live longer than men. This longevity difference makes them more likely to experience widowhood.

Consider working a few years longer, and take advantage of catch-up contributions, especially if you are behind on your savings goals. Working longer delivers a triple benefit. It delays Social Security benefits by a few years, which lets you receive higher monthly benefits. It allows you to accumulate savings for a few more years. Finally, it reduces the number of years you’ll need to draw down retirement savings. Women and men 50 and older are eligible to make catch-up contributions to their retirement accounts over and above standard contribution limits.

Maximize Social Security claiming options. Prudential’s Social Security series provides guidance on optimizing Social Security claiming decisions for those who are married, divorced, or widowed.

Consider insuring retirement income against longevity and market risks. Protected lifetime income products, such as annuities, can help insure against these risks.

Carry an adequate amount of life insurance. Both spouses should carry an adequate amount of life insurance to ensure that, should their income disappear, their spouse can pay off outstanding debt and maintain their lifestyle.

Coordinate workplace employee benefits. Two-income spouses who are each eligible for their own company’s employee benefit options should evaluate the costs and features of both sets of benefit packages (e.g., deductibles, copayments, etc.) in order to obtain sufficient coverage, minimize costs, and lessen any tax implications.

Consult with a financial professional and seek more financial knowledge.

For more information, visit www.prudential.com/insights.

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