Women are more educated, earn higher incomes and have a more powerful role in the workplace than women of previous generations. But in spite of this progress, 90 percent of women say they feel financially insecure, according to the 2007 Allianz Women, Money and Power Study. The vast majority of women will need to take financial responsibility at some point in their lives, so it is vital that they have the knowledge and confidence to take charge of their financial future.

Women at Risk

A 2009 report by The Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER) says that women are particularly vulnerable going into retirement. The findings in “How Can Women’s Income Last as Long as They Do?” show that:

* Women at age 65 are expected to live, on average, another 20 years – four years longer than men. That means they will need to save more for retirement.

* Less than one third of retired women today receive pension income. And less than half of today’s working women have access to a pension or retirement savings plan through their jobs.

* For more than 40 percent of older women living alone, Social Security is virtually all that they have. This group is four to five times more likely to be poor than married couples.

“Each stage of life holds events that can shape your financial needs and impact your ability to achieve long-term goals,” says Katie Libbe, vice president of Marketing Solutions for Allianz Life. “Divorce and widowhood are two stages that have significant financial impact for women, so they need to learn how to take control of their financial futures.”

Tips for Starting Over

Losing one’s spouse through divorce or death means a change in financial needs and responsibilities. Here are some tips to help begin the process of starting over.

Find Your Starting Place.

Before you begin any new journey, you need to know where your starting place is. Gather all the information you need to evaluate your current financial situation. These include:

* Checking and savings account statements

* Credit card information

* Tax returns

* Social Security records

* Investment information – stocks and bonds certificates, mutual fund statements

* Insurance policies – homeowner’s, life, auto, health, long-term care

* Retirement assets – 401(k), pension, IRA, ROTH IRA, annuity statements

* Deeds

* Wills and powers of attorney

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