12 steps to ensuring women’s financial security in retirement


Louisville, KY – March 15, 2016 – A newly-released report from the National Institute on Retirement Security details the challenges to women’s financial security in retirement and sheds light on the dire consequences of the gender gap in retirement savings, with key findings revealing that women are 80% more likely than men to be impoverished at age 65 and older, and women ages 75 to 79 are three times more likely than men to be living in poverty. According to Carla Dearing, “There are steps women can take while in their 50s and 60s that will help ensure their financial security—and keep the wolf of poverty from their doorstep.” Carla is founding CEO of SUM180, an online financial planning service designed by women for women.
“The 50s and 60s are tremendously important decades for financial health. With retirement within striking distance, the pressure is on to prepare. That said, while in their 50s, women still have plenty of time to grow their savings—and they’re in their peak earning years, so the actions they take can go a long way toward setting them up for long-term financial security,” Carla continued.


Following, from Carla and the SUM180 community of advisers and clients, are 5 steps everyone in their 50s should take to prepare for retirement:

  1. Have a comprehensive, up-to-date financial plan. Everyone should have a comprehensive plan for their money that is based on their unique circumstances and goals. Having a plan is even more important as you approach retirement age. If you need help building your plan, be sure to choose an unbiased financial planning service or financial adviser. Start by making a full assessment of your financial situation, including all your assets and debts. With a clear understanding of your financial picture, you’ll be able to identify and tackle your next steps.
  2. Identify gaps in your retirement game plan. Take advantage of the retirement calculator tools available online to estimate what your needs will be in retirement and assess how well your current assets will support you when the time comes. A simple rule of thumb is that you will need to cover about 80% of your pre-retirement living expenses. Knowing what the gaps are will help you address them more effectively.
  3. Lean into your savings goals. It’s never too late to save, and in your 50s, chances are, you’re at the peak of your earning power. Plus, your kids may be grown and out of the house, freeing up even more funds for you. Create and implement an accelerated savings plan to fatten your nest egg, pay off lingering debts, and address any gaps you identified in the previous step.
  4. Review your investments and shift your asset allocation as needed. Preparing for retirement means reviewing not just how much money you have saved, but how it’s invested. Take a close look at your investment/retirement portfolio and, as appropriate for your total circumstances, start shifting your asset allocation away from equities and more toward conservative, fixed income holdings.
  5. Make sure you have enough insurance. Safeguarding your financial health for the long term means expecting the unexpected. Review your home, health, life and auto insurance policies to make sure you have enough coverage to protect your savings and your family in case of a medical or legal emergency.

Additionally, Carla and the SUM180 community offer these 7 steps to help those in their 60s make the most of the remaining years before ceasing full-time work:

  1. Plan your end game. You probably have a good general sense of how much money you need to retire. It’s time to understand what that means in day-to-day terms, to set realistic expectations about your retirement lifestyle and, of course, to keep saving to ensure you hit your targets. Compare your ‘retirement number’ to your expected monthly expenses. Spot a discrepancy? You have plenty of time to make adjustments. The key is to keep your ongoing savings on track with your expectations.
  1. Boost your retirement portfolio. This decade is your last chance to make a big push toward beefing up your retirement portfolio. The good news is, it’s not too late to catch up to your goal. With your children finished with college and out of the house, and your home mortgage paid off, you have significantly more funds to direct into retirement savings. Make this your top priority.
  1. Reduce your living expenses. The flip side of boosting your retirement savings is gradually streamlining your lifestyle now, in preparation for retirement. Take a close look at your monthly expenses and identify those items you can do without. Start eliminating a few expenses every year until you retire. This gradual approach will let you significantly cut your monthly expenses without feeling the shock of adjustment.
  1. Pay off any lingering debts. If you have outstanding balances on credit cards, car loans or other installment loans, plan on paying them off before you retire.  If possible, you should arrive at retirement debt-free. That way, the retirement savings you’ve worked so hard to accumulate will be yours to spend in full, rather than being reduced every month by debt payments.
  1. Keep or pay off your mortgage? It depends. Conventional wisdom tells us to pay off our home mortgage before retiring, but if your rate is less than 5% and you can afford to make your mortgage payments from guaranteed-income sources in retirement, you may be better off investing the money you would have put toward the paying off the loan.
  1. Build the foundation for your post-retirement career. Not everyone can or wants to stop working altogether. If your retirement prep suggests you’ll need additional income beyond what you’ve saved and cutting expenses won’t do the trick, use this decade to build the skills, resources and professional network you’ll need to earn additional income after you leave your current job.
  1. Avoid retiring at the same time as your spouse. It is fun to think of retiring together and immediately embarking on your elaborate travel plans, but if you stagger your retirement, more of your retirement assets will stay invested. You’ll also have the continued benefits from one of your employers; the medical coverage alone may have a significant impact.


About SUM180

SUM180 is an online financial planning service designed by women for women. With the goal of making financial planning simple and affordable for women, SUM180 provides a radical alternative to current financial advisory offerings.

Specifically, SUM180 is differentiated in the following ways:

  • SUM180 meets women where they are. SUM180 plans are personalized to help women wherever they are right now on their financial journey; whether they’re just beginning, starting over or well on their way.
  • SUM180 plans are simple. Clients need only focus on just three of their most important next steps at any given time. This approach is empowering for most, but especially for women who have been “tuned out” of their financial picture for a period of time.
  • SUM180 doesn’t try to give clients a degree in finance. SUM180 clients don’t need to become financial experts to meet their financial goals. SUM180 provides the tools they need, without overwhelming them with the details they don’t need.

SUM180 offers a community for users, unfiltered. SUM180’s community forum allows users to support one another in their plans