There are many studies showing that women continue to fall short on their overall retirement savings compared to their male counterparts. There are various factors that contribute to this, including the fact that, on average, women get paid less than men. On average, it is also more common for women to work less hours than men or take career breaks in order to care for children. Below is some advice I have for women, to help bridge this gap:
Start now – It is never too early or too late to start contributing to a pension plan. It is mandatory in Ireland for employers to offer employees access to a pension scheme. Some employers also offer to pay employer pension contributions into a scheme for you, so it is always worth educating yourself on what scheme your employer offers. Some of the questions you should be asking your employer are: Do you offer employer pension contributions? If so, what are the rules of such contributions? What are the charges associated with this pension scheme? What are the investment options available for contributions paid into my pension?
Educate yourself on investing or seek advice – You do not have to be an expert in the stock market to successfully save for your retirement, however, it is important to understand what your pension funds are invested in and why. Investing your hard earned salary in a low-interest deposit fund will not give you the spending power you may need in retirement whilst on the other hand, investing in a fund that you may not understand or has a much higher risk level than you wish to take is also counterintuitive. Many employers offer educational materials to help you get started on educating yourself in this area. However, if you lack the interest or the time to do it yourself, seek the help of a financial professional outside the plan.
Where financially possible, continue making pension contributions whilst on maternity leave or other types of leave – Much of the gender gap in earnings & retirement savings is due to the fact that women often reduce their paid work schedules or quit work altogether to devote time to unpaid caregiving for children, or paid maternity leave. During this time, you may still be able to contribute to a pension in a tax efficient manner or make voluntary PRSI contributions to enhance your potential State Pension entitlement. If invested correctly, your pension that you built up while working, may continue to grow with investment returns, so again it’s important to educate yourself or seek professional advice in this area.
While we continue to work towards ridding the world of the gender pay gap and other societal issues, with some education and adaptations such as those above, women can set themselves up very well towards a better retirement. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me on email@example.com
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