Trying to plan for your retirement?

If you’re a woman, the bad news is that you face some specific challenges that men don’t. The good news? Women tend to invest and save in a way that bodes well for their retirement success.

There’s more good news: retirement planning is not rocket science. By following the key strategies detailed at your 2 free consultations, women can go a long way in preparing for a financially stable future. And that future is helped by general characteristics that women tend to exhibit more than men.

Specifically, women’s tendency to stick with a long-term investment plan — rather than trading in and out of investments the way men are likelier to do — leads to higher returns over time. Plus, men are often more confident than women of their own investing skills. While confidence isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, when it comes to investing, confidence can lead to problems, such as buying into companies or mutual funds without doing enough research. Women tend to ask more questions before investing and then once they decide on the investment plan that’s right for them, they stick with it.

Of course, women comprise a lot of different types of people, living in many different financial situations. Whether you’re single or married, wealthy or not: these and other factors will affect how you plan and save for retirement. But this strategy below is a good place to start for people in just about any situation.

Strategy 1: Start saving, and then save more

By now, just about everyone knows it’s important to save for retirement. Currently, the average Social Security payment is about $1,320 a month. That’s just $15,840 a year. Most Americans would like to be able to spend more than that in retirement. If you’re among them, it’s never too late to ramp up your savings and invest so your money can grow. (Keep in mind that if you’re five years or less out from retirement, it’s important to review carefully how much money you have invested in the stock market. Any money you’re going to need in five years should be in a safer investment, because you may not have time to recover from stock-market losses in such a short time period.)

For women, the directive to save is even more important than for men. Why? On average, women live at least a couple of years longer than men. Plus, women are likelier to take time off from the workforce — generally to care for children or elders — and that can lead to lower lifetime savings.

So, next question: How much should you be saving each month? If you’re too busy with life to get down to specifics, then one rule of thumb is to save 20% of your income. If you’re not there yet, that’s OK; just set 20% as your goal and ramp up your savings rate each year, plus every time you get a raise or an unexpected windfall.

Want to retire early? Focus on your spending

You may think you can only dream of retiring early, but others have done it. Here’s a look at where to focus as you try to save your nest egg and how to spend it in retirement.

If you’re ready to get into the details of how much you need to save for retirement, then consider this: focus on your spending. Estimating how much you will spend in retirement helps clarify what you need to save. The easiest way to start is to track current spending — use Excel or try an our online tool like Generational Vault (available upon request)— and then figure out which of your current expenses will remain a part of your lifestyle when you’re retired. And don’t forget to add in any projected retirement expenses, such as health-care costs.

Looking at your spending now can yield myriad benefits. For one, it may help you identify ways to cut costs now, while you’re working. That has two benefits: it increases the amount of money you can stash away now, and it helps you prepare now to live on less in retirement. If you can resist that pricey tech toy that you want but don’t need, or start cooking more at home, your future retirement could be a lot more relaxing.