You'll need savings of your own if you want to be able to retire in comfort. Though Social Security will provide you with some income, it won't replace your preretirement paycheck in its entirety.

Furthermore, Social Security could undergo cuts in the coming years if lawmakers don't manage to find a way to solve the program's cash crunch. So that's yet another reason to make an effort to fund a 401(k) plan or IRA consistently during your working years.

But as important as it is to set aside savings for retirement, it's just as important to invest that money for added growth. New Motley Fool research, however, reveals that women tend to invest more conservatively than men. And that has the potential to hurt them in the long run.

A person at a computer.

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You need a little risk in your portfolio

Some investors tend to shy away from stocks and other riskier assets in an effort to minimize their losses. But there's a risk in investing too conservatively, and it's not growing enough wealth to outpace inflation and secure the right amount of buying power in retirement.

Such is a risk some female investors and savers might face. The aforementioned research piece cited a Wells Fargo statistic, which found that women only took on approximately 82% of the risk that men took on when investing.

Now on the plus side, that research also found that women are more likely than men to remain calm during periods of market volatility. They also have a tendency to trade less frequently than men in general.

These behaviors could help spare women losses both when the market is turbulent and when it's not. But it's important to understand that if you're going to go light on stocks in your portfolio, you're potentially setting yourself up for an income shortfall later in life.

Let's imagine you're able to save $400 a month in an IRA or 401(k) plan over a 35-year period, and you invest your money at a relatively conservative average annual 5% return. That will leave you with a nest worth about $434,000, which is not a small amount of money by any means. But if you have lofty goals for retirement or a longer retirement to look forward to, it may not be enough.

On the other hand, let's say you add more stocks to your portfolio and you're able to boost that average annual return to 8%. In that case, you're looking at an ending balance of $827,000. That's an enormous difference.

Long-term investors tend to get rewarded

The idea of losing money in the stock market can be daunting. But investors who buy quality stocks and hold them for decades tend to be rewarded in the long run.

So if you're nervous to buy stocks, remind yourself of that point. Also, remind yourself of the dangers of playing things too safe. This especially holds true if you're single, and you'll be largely reliant on your nest egg to fund your retirement from start to finish.