The One Resolution You Really Need to Make

By Ellevest Team

Here’s some math that doesn’t add up: Women retire with two-thirds as much money as men do, but we live six to eight years longer. More math: Every hour you wait to invest could cost you $4. (No joke.) And the longer we wait to get started, the further behind we’ll be.

A party hat, Champagne flute, and stack of cash sitting on a pie graph. Illustration.

But “really, really important” doesn’t have to mean “really, really hard to do.” In fact, we’re happy to report that it’s not hard at all — seriously! Ramping up your planning and investing for retirement in 2022 might even be easier than getting in that workout, finding the work / life balance, or finally organizing the bathroom cabinets. Here’s a roundup of our best advice.

If you’re looking for some motivation

First: Picture yourself in retirement. Get specific about it — what does your day look like? It can help with the planning process to visualize something tangible to shoot for. Here’s a worksheet to help you do that. Ellevest members have access to our 7 Days to a Real Retirement Plan email course that includes the worksheet and lots more.

And don’t think you have to be on a beach somewhere. If that’s what you want, absolutely go for it, but retirement looks different for everyone (if you even retire at all, that is). Take our friend Franziska Williams’ word for it — she gave us a peek into her very busy post-retirement life in this short video. So did Irene Buchman and Kayla Gluck.

We also think it’s fun (and useful) to reframe saving for retirement as self-care for Future You, whether it’s thinking of it as a regular practice, as fiscal fitness, or as “treat yo self.”

If you’re wondering which account type is best for you

For most people, the decision is between an IRA and a 401(k). Both have tax advantages, but they’re different in some key ways. Here’s an in-depth explainer on what they are and how to decide which one’s best for you, and more details if your job doesn’t even offer a 401(k). And if you’re still undecided, we made you a handy flowchart.

Then, once you’ve decided on either an IRA or a 401(k), you might find yourself with another decision to make: Roth or traditional? Or both? The difference here has to do with taxes and timing. For help deciding, check out our explainers on Roth vs traditional IRAs and Roth vs traditional 401(k)s.

And if you’re the boss of you, there’s a special type of IRA to consider: the SEP IRA. Here’s the breakdown on them and why they tend to be such good options for the self-employed. 

If you’re trying to figure out how much you actually need to save

Check out this explainer on getting to your number. (We also have a fun lil worksheet to help you tabulate what your expenses will look like in retirement.) Short answer: it’ll depend on when you want to retire and how — and there are a lot more options than you think.

Ellevest can help you answer this question, too. Our investing platform takes your personal info into consideration — things like your gender (that whole living-longer-and-retiring-with-less thing), savings, and projected future income — and gives you a plan designed to help you get where we think you’ll need to be.

If you aren’t sure how this whole 401(k) employer match thing works

Did someone say “free money?” Yep … it was your employer. If you have a 401(k) employer match available to you, it’s in your best interest to take full advantage of that. Here’s how it works and why that’s the case. And here’s an explainer on that whole “vesting” thing they’re always talking about.

If you have an old 401(k) or two from a past life just hanging out

It happens. There are a lot of moving pieces when you get a new job, and it’s easy to let a former employer’s 401(k) get left behind. The good news is that you can probably still roll it over — either into your current 401(k) or an IRA — even if it’s been hanging out for a while. Not sure what that involves? Here’s an explainer for you. And here are some common mistakes people make, plus how to avoid them.

If you think you might be paying too much in fees

Definitely possible. Check out our explainer on how to find your fees — it lists out all the fee types you might be paying and tells you where to find them.

If you need that little push — and who doesn’t, really? — Ellevest’s Planning For Your Dream Retirement workshop goes deeper into all of this, from the envisioning stage to the differences between retirement accounts to how to budget for those contributions. It also includes a Q&A session at the end, where one of Ellevest’s seasoned money coaches can address any lingering concerns you might still have.

No matter where you start with your retirement planning and investing, the most important thing is that you get started. (Because you don’t get that fabulous future life if you don’t do that.)


Source Ellevest. To calculate “cost you $4,” we compared the wealth outcomes for a woman who begins investing at age 30 with one who began investing at age 40 after having saved in a bank for 10 years. Both women begin with an $85,000 salary at age 30 and all salaries were projected using a women-specific salary curve from Morningstar Investment Management LLC, a registered investment adviser and subsidiary of Morningstar, Inc., which includes the impact of inflation. We assume savings of 20% of salary each year. The bank savings account assumes an average annual yield of 1% and a 22% tax rate on the interest earned, with no account fees. The investment account assumes an investment with Ellevest using a low-cost diversified portfolio of ETFs beginning at 91% equity and gradually becoming more conservative during the last 20 years, settling at 56% equity by the end of the 50-year horizon. These results are determined using a Monte Carlo simulation—a forward-looking, computer-based calculation in which we run portfolios and savings rates through hundreds of different economic scenarios to determine a range of possible outcomes. The results reflect a 70% likelihood of achieving the amounts shown or better, and include the impact of Ellevest fees, inflation, and taxes on interest, dividends, and realized capital gains. We divided the calculated cost of waiting 10 years to invest, $341,181, by 3,650 (the number of days in 10 years). The resulting cost per day is about $93.47. Dividing that result by 24 hours results in $3.89 per hour.

The results presented are hypothetical, and do not reflect actual investment results, the performance of any Ellevest product, or any account of any Ellevest client, which may vary materially from the results portrayed for various reasons.

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The information provided should not be relied upon as investment advice or recommendations, does not constitute a solicitation to buy or sell securities and should not be considered specific legal, investment or tax advice.

The information provided does not take into account the specific objectives, financial situation or particular needs of any specific person.

Diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss in a declining market. There is no guarantee that any particular asset allocation or mix of funds will meet your investment objectives or provide you with a given level of income.

Investing entails risk including the possible loss of principal and there is no assurance that the investment will provide positive performance over any period of time.

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Ellevest Team

The Ellevest team is working to help women reach their financial and professional goals.