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5 Strategies for Women Entrepreneurs to Save for Retirement Since, in general, women live longer than their male counterparts, a robust retirement savings plan is even more critical.

By Marilee Falco Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Saving for retirement can be challenging for anyone, but especially for business owners who invest much of their own savings and earnings into their companies. Although to many entrepreneurs funding a business and saving for retirement may seem like mutually exclusive propositions, they should not be. And since, in general, women live longer than their male counterparts, a robust retirement savings plan is even more critical for them.

Related: It's Shocking How Many Entrepreneurs Aren't Saving for Retirement

To better understand the views of women retirement savers in general, a review of the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies' December 2016 survey is beneficial. Some noteworthy takeaways from the survey are:

  • 46 percent of the women surveyed are not confident that they will be able to fully retire comfortably.
  • 56 percent of the women surveyed plan to work beyond the age of 65 and are unsure if they will retire at all.
  • 81 percent of the women surveyed are concerned that Social Security will not be available when they reach retirement.
  • 21 percent of women baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) have no backup plan if they find themselves forced into retirement earlier than expected.

In order to allay such concerns and fully fund their retirement, then, female entrepreneurs should consider following these recommendations:

Develop a plan for caregiving responsibilities.

Because women are often the primary family caregivers for children and aging parents, it is important for women business owners to have a plan in place for how to manage and share these responsibilities. Building a support network is key.

Related: Don't Wreck Your Retirement: The Entrepreneur's Guide to Personal Finances

Considering the financial ramifications of a work absence is also advisable since less income means less retirement savings -- and a prolonged period away from work could negatively impact the future success of the business. That being said, finding work-life balance is important, since family time and life experiences often enrich and sustain the lives of female entrepreneurs.

Invest in retirement, even in those lean early days.

During the startup phase of a business, when companies are cash poor, business owners may have little to invest in their own retirement. And even as a business gets its legs and ramps up, entrepreneurs often feed the beast and reinvest in their business. Women business owners would be wise to work with a financial advisor who can make recommendations during these lean times for their personal retirement savings -- as well as for their business.

Invest cash distributions in retirement vehicles, not the business.

When a business owner receives cash distributions from her business, she would be well-advised to invest her personal draw in stocks, bonds and non-traditional investments so as to diversify away from the single enterprise, concentrated risk of her business. Of course, it would not be prudent to invest business profits in these same investment vehicles. Businesses require a certain level of liquidity to meet their financial obligations and having funds tied up in investments like long-term bonds, for example, would be problematic.

Related: 3 Ways to Secure a Rich Retirement

Consider cash balance plans when profits are soaring.

When a business is in its "cash cow" phase, women owners should consider fully funding retirement plans, including advance strategies such as cash balance plans. What sets these plans apart from other retirement savings vehicles for business owners is that they have higher contribution limits that increase with age.

If they have not worked with a financial advisor, it is possible that older female entrepreneurs may need to make up for some lost time on the retirement savings front after spending their prime savings years focused on building and investing in burgeoning businesses. For them, the higher contribution limits permitted in cash balance plans are appealing, allowing them to accelerate retirement saving. In 2017, the contribution limit for 401K plans with profit sharing is $59,000. With cash balance plans, business owners and executives are able to amass more pre-tax dollars; up to $137,000 in total employer and employee contributions for a 50-year-old, up to $235,000 for a 60-year-old and up to $303,000 for a 70-year-old. Of course, significant cash flow is required for businesses to be able to make such sizable contributions to these plans.

Related: Business Owners Need a 'Plan B' for Retirement

Reduce tax liabilities through HSAs.

For those female entrepreneurs with the ability to pay for upfront medical expenses through a high deductible plan, the tax advantages of health savings accounts (HSAs) are many: a) if the contribution is made as a payroll deduction, no taxes are paid on the contribution, b) investment earnings in an HSA account are not taxed, and c) qualified health expense withdrawals from an HSA account are tax-free.

By adopting these strategies to balance retirement savings with business growth, female entrepreneurs can look to their futures more confidently -- which can only be good for business.

Marilee Falco

Principal at JoycePayne Partners

Marilee Falco is a principal and financial strategist at JoycePayne Partners in Bethlehem, Penn., responsible for client financial strategy and counsel, comprehensive financial planning and investment management. She is a Certified Financial Planner professional and chartered financial consultant.

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