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Five Ways for Women to Achieve Retirement Security

Morningstar Investment Research

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December 03, 2011 - Five Ways for Women to Achieve Retirement Security - by Morningstar Investment Research

Numerous studies show that women have much more trouble than men building for a secure retirement. Caregiving, whether for aging parents or children, often cuts into earnings and destabilizes retirement plans, and two thirds of caregivers of adults over age 50 are women, according to the National Alliance for Caregiving. Additionally, many women still earn lower wages than men in many occupations. In 2010, women across all occupations earned 81% of what men earned, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In retirement, lower income translates to smaller Social Security benefits or defined benefit pension payments, along with smaller balances in 401(k) accounts, IRAs, and other retirement-savings vehicles. Morningstar columnist Mark Miller recently took a look at this issue and provided additional data and insight on t he existence of the gender gap regarding personal finances. He offered five actions women can take to improve their odds of achieving retirement security.

The High and Low Points of the Bond Ladder

In a past article about the risks of individual bonds, Morningstar director of personal finance Christine Benz noted that one drawback is that you won't be able to take advantage of higher yields when they become available. But readers have wondered if a bond-laddering strategy would help overcome that drawback. To answer that question, Benz recently provided an overview of laddering, stating that it is, above all, a diversification strategy, enabling you to spread your assets across multiple credits with different characteristics, thereby mitigating the risk of sinking a lot of your assets into a single bond that defaults. And if you're reinvesting your proceeds when a bond matures, laddering helps you further diversify across multiple interest-rate environments. Benz discussed the ways bond laddering can help improve your overall por tfolio, especially in today's environment but she also points out that this strategy also has its drawbacks. Click here to read more.

Among the other topics we addressed this week:

When Rising Stars, Fallen Stars, and Steady Eddies Rate Bronze or Neutral. How funds from PIMCO, T. Rowe Price, and Fidelity became Bronze medalists or Neutral-rated funds.

Possible DWS Sale Creates Uncertainty for Its Funds. AMR bankruptcy doesn't ground mutual funds, and more.

The Top-Performing Funds in 2011's Toughest Category. These two small-value funds have followed different paths to success in a difficult year for the peer group.

For These Funds, The Future May Not Be as Bright as the Past. Why do funds with strong recent results receive so-so Analyst Ratings?

ETF Sector Focus: Investors Will Like This Coal in Their Stockings This Holiday Season. Coal ETFs carry above-average risk but offer compelling reward potential right now.

Behind the Analyst Ratings for Three International Funds. The stories behind a Gold, and a Bronze, and a Neutral.

Our Ultimate Stock-Pickers' Top 10 Buys and Sells. Fears about the European credit crisis spreading and an increase in investor redemptions impacted our top managers' purchases and sales during the most recent period.

If You Believe Investors Are Rational, Consider the Case of Cornerstone Total Return. Lagging total returns, a preposterous distribution rate, and derelict overseers are only three reasons to avoid this fund.

Risk Calibration for Retiree Portfolios. Going too light on risky assets is a risk unto itself.

IShares Drafts Plans for 7 Bond ETFs. Plus, AdvisorShares changes subadvisor for long/short ETF, and more.

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