If you are a middle-aged woman, chances are you will either outlive your husband, or end up in divorce court and never remarry.

With this thought in mind, it becomes more imperative than ever that women take charge of our futures to ensure that they will be able to survive ABOVE the poverty line.

Here are some tips you should be thinking about BEFORE you enter your golden years.

1: Take control of your future.

You will most likely be the surviving spouse; or you may be divorced and single—or you have always been single. Which ever is your reason, you are on your own. Do not wait for Prince Charming to come a whisk you away on his white horse. What if he never shows up? If you are the surviving spouse, were you part of the financial planning? You should be. This is YOUR life and you need to take control of it. None of you know where your futures lie, but wishing, hoping and praying that it will all work out is naive and will land you in big trouble.

2: Keep a keen eye on your income, savings and spending habits.

Of all the elderly persons with income levels below the poverty line, more than 70 % are women. If married, more than 1/2 were much better off financially before their husband died.

3: Make health benefits a priority.

Many women need to pay out of pocket for health insurance benefits. This may be due to spending less time in the workforce. Whatever the reason, it can be devastating to be without health insurance coverage.

4. Defer your Social Security benefits as long as possible.

Women need to wait as long as possible to collect Social Security benefits.

At this time 60 % of women choose to apply for Social Security at the earliest age possible, 62 years old.

Keep in mind, your Social Security retirement benefits are based on your 35 years of highest earnings. (If you don’t have 35 years employment, they use a zero for each year without earnings. Working an extra year or 2 allows you to replace years lost, which increases your benefits.

If you go to www.socialsecurity.gov/planners you can calculate different retirement scenarios.

5: Consider hiring a Financial Advisor

As much as you love to do things on your own and make important decisions by yourselves, this is a time to hand it over to an expert. Unless you have many extra hours to spend learning the ins and outs of the market, you will be only hurting yourself and your future. It’s a good time to ask for help.

Ask your family and friends for someone they trust that has done well by them. For most of you, this is a task you need to let go of.

6: Working longer than you anticipated may be the key

Women may need to work longer to achieve a stable, livable retirement. One half of working women do not have access to pensions or company retirement plans. Many women don’t earn enough to save in order to fund their retirement. The truth continues to be that women working full time still only earn 76 % o what men earn.

7: Baby Boomer women are the most educated in history.

Baby Boomer women are more likely to be divorced or never married than women in other generations. That in itself requires women to work more years. Although Baby Boomer women have more education and stronger workforce participation than earlier generation, being divorced or never married may create a deficit in retirement income.

8: Don’t count of your home equity

Planning on converting the equity in your home into retirement income could back fire on you. Housing values are not always stable and tend to either level off or decline. Although equity in your home may provide additional monies to your nest egg, don’t make it your primary funding source.

9: Be healthy minded NOW

Keep on top of your health now, not later. Exercise, eat well and get all the necessary annual medical check ups you need. How you take care of yourself now may be the crystal ball of your future.

According to AARP 62 % of women in the country do not have long term retirement plans.. Don’t let this be you. Policy makers have ignored the needs of Baby Boomer women and largely ignored the plight they are in when approaching retirement.