Retirement: Are You Ready for A Solo Act?
Most women in their 60s are headed for a solo future. Are you prepared for yours?
Millions of Americans are finding themselves on their own as they head toward retirement. Some are solo by circumstance, others by choice. Baby Boomers – all of them – are driving new trends in housing, work, caretaking and traveling while also redefining what it means to be part of a community.
These partner-less pioneers are rewriting the book on retirement as they learn what it takes to successfully retire solo and remain happy, healthy and independent in the coming years.
Women Spend Much of Their Lives Alone
The reality is that most of us will spend more time solo than in a married or committed relationship over the course of our lifetime. It is almost certain that we will be solo during the later years of our lives. Statistics indicate that most married Baby Boomers are destined to become solo again in the future, whether through death or divorce.
Nearly 10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65 every day – a reality that began in 2010 and is expected to continue through 2029. More than half of them are reaching that milestone on their own. Those who are still married are likely counting on a spouse’s income to save for retirement and to provide a second Social Security check. Whether solo or partnered, few women feel financially ready for retirement.
Everyone Is Potentially Solo
Any woman can become solo again at any time in her life. Regardless of whether you are married, partnered or otherwise in a committed relationship, life happens. It is practical to plan for that possibility. Despite the decline in the divorce rate, about 40 percent of marriages (first and subsequent) still end in divorce, transitioning women back into the solo category.
Ditto for the many Boomer women who will become widows in retirement. Women who reach age 65 are expected to live an average of 21 years more. The Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education predicts that seven out of 10 Boomer women will outlive their husbands. Many of these women could end up living as “solo widows” for 15 to 20 years. It is important to plan for that possibility, even if your husband is healthy today.
On the average, 80-90% of all women will be solely responsible for their personal and financial health at some point, if they aren’t already. It makes good sense to plan for that eventuality now to ease the transition, and to avoid the financial hardship which often comes with a sudden shift in status. You wouldn’t want to find yourself on your own without a financial plan, a housing strategy and a support system in place. No one does.
If you are already solo, you know this, you’ve thought about it and you’ve hopefully started to create a plan. If you’re not solo, you need to start thinking about the very real possibility that you will be solo again at some point in the future and begin planning for that time.
Successful Solo Retirement Takes Planning
There are no guarantees in life, whether you are solo, married or somewhere in between. Today’s Boomers know that they may have to continue working, start a business or come up with another source of income to supplement whatever Social Security benefits they may earn. Few have truly thought about how or where they may want to live, how they will stay active and healthy in the years ahead or who will be there for them as they grow old.
It’s never too late, or too soon, to develop a personal plan to protect your independence and make sure that the coming years are happy, healthy and supported by a sense of community. No one wants to rely on others for their financial well-being. No one wants to suffer from poor health. No one wants to end up in a nursing facility and no one wants to be without some type of support system to turn to when necessary.
These are issues that affect all of us as individuals, regardless of our marital status. In my book, Retiring Solo, I discuss different strategies that can help you plan for an independent future – even if that possibility seems hard to imagine right now.
Learning how to retire solo is practical knowledge that you can put to good use now and as you grow older – no matter what the future might bring.
What have you done to plan for your future? If you are already solo, what advice would you offer to someone who is married or partnered right now? Have you talked with your spouse or partner about what will happen if one of you ends up alone? Please share in the comments section.
Lori Martinek is a successful entrepreneur, author and mentor to new and aspiring business owners. She is the owner of Encore Business Advisors, and the founder of @MindingHerBiz, a pro bono project which helps women embrace business ownership. Her latest book, Retiring Solo (2016) is available on Amazon.