NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Real Housewives of Beverly Hills Star Brandi Glanville was nearly broke with no credit four years ago when her husband Eddie Cibrian left to marry singer LeAnn Rimes.
Glanville reportedly could not lease a house or car and has since been building her credit. The blonde beauty is among the many women whose standard of living dropped during the first year after divorce, according to .the National Center for Women and Retirement Research (NCWRR).
“The best way to avoid being financially devastated after a divorce is to be financially independent while in the marriage,” said Bobbie Messmore, president of Strategic Planning Masters in Florida. “Many women are completely dependent on their husband’s ability to earn money. These women normally suffer the most financially during a divorce."
What might help is knowledge of the 4% rule, because seven out of ten women will never retire.
“Many women investors start much later in life investing in retirement accounts in comparison to their male counterparts,” said Charles Winfrey, a financial advisor in Tennessee. “When women do begin investing in retirement accounts they typically invest very conservatively and at very small contribution amounts.”
"The 4% rule is a rule of thumb about how much can be safely withdrawn from a portfolio in retirement without prematurely depleting the portfolio,” said David Littell, director of the Retirement Income Program at The American College. “Because of the ups and downs of the market, the sustainable withdrawal amount is much less than the average return on the portfolio.”
Experts say one way women can take control of their finances after divorce and before retirement is by reducing and eliminating debt as soon as possible.
“Find work that can be physically done as a person gets older,” Messmore told Mainstreet. “A woman who has a job that is physically challenging will not likely be able to continue down that career path as she ages.”
Investing in annuities during a marriage, before divorce and leading up to retirement can provide aging women with peace of mind.
“The longer the retirement period, the smaller the sustainable withdrawal rate,” Littell told MainStreet. “This means that as women live longer they need more resources at retirement than men do. Annuity income can be increased by deferring Social Security, choosing an annuity at work, and purchasing commercial annuities.”
“Many women start new careers after a divorce and are pleasantly surprised to learn how much they can actually earn,” Messmore said. However, most women on average earn less than men.
“This means they have less to save for retirement,” Winfrey told MainStreet. “Because women are out of the workforce longer, and earn less, their retirement benefits are less. They earn smaller Social Security retirement and disability benefits. Their company retirement accounts and pensions are smaller.”
The 4% rule really can help calculate a ballpark estimate of how much needs to be saved for retirement.
“If you know how much income you need to generate from your assets, you can see that with 20,000 a year in income, you need in the ballpark of $500,000 at retirement,” said Littell.
--Written for MainStreet by Juliette Fairley