If you’re in your 40s and you haven’t gotten serious about investing and saving for retirement, then now is the time to start. You’re inching closer to retirement age, and there’s still time to get your savings and investments together and have the retirement of your dreams. Here are some tips to get you on the right track and help you stay there and not make common finance mistakes
Use a Retirement Calculator
Planning your retirement can get overwhelming fast, but there are tools to help ensure that doesn’t happen to you. If you haven’t used a retirement calculator before, it’s a useful tool that will help you see where your current savings strategies will get you, and how you can improve on those. These calculators don’t require any of your personal information, so there’s no harm in trying them out. You’ll be asked for information like what age you want to retire, what your current income and savings amounts are, and how you’re currently investing.
You can usually find a retirement calculator on the website for your banking institution, or the websites for other investment companies. If nothing else, it will help you start to form an image of what amount you will need in order to retire when you want with the lifestyle you’ve envisioned.
Pay Off Debt
If you’re in your 40s, you likely have some student debt lingering, a car loan and a mortgage hanging over your head. Add your credit cards and other expenses, and you’ll find that you’re paying a lot in interest. This is the time for you to organize your debt and work to pay it off.
There are two common ways you can motivate yourself to pay off your debt, and continue staying motivated to do so. The first is called the snowball method to paying debt. With this strategy, you pay off your smallest debt first, then work your way up to the larger debt. Of course, you pay on all of your debt every month, but you pay larger amounts on the smaller bills first. Then there’s a debt avalanche. This method requires you to pay down your highest interest debt first, and then move to the lowest.
Get Less Risky With Investments
If you started investing in your 20s and 30s, and you feel comfortable with the amount of risk involved in your investments, then it may be smart to stick with what you’ve got. In your 40s, you’re closer to retirement age which usually means you should have less risk. However, you also may be realizing you need more money to maintain the standard of living you have now, as opposed to that in your younger days, and your current strategy won’t cut it.
This is why it might be smart to rebalance your portfolio and move some of your money to safer investments. For example, you could look into getting Treasury bonds. These bonds are insured by the government to grow over time as interest rates increase, and insures that your bond retains it’s value. At 40 years old, you could get bonds that take 20 years to mature, then reinvest them as your retirement draws closer.
Buy Life Insurance
If you’re in your 40s — and especially if you have a family you support — you need to think seriously about life insurance. You may already have a term life policy as a part of your employer-sponsored benefits, but that may not be enough for your new lifestyle. For example, if you got your life insurance policy when you were in your late 20s, but now have kids and possibly take care of your aging parent, then you’ll likely need to up the amount of coverage.
Another option is to get a new life insurance policy that can also potentially be used as an investment vehicle. An Indexed Universal Life insurance policy is a good example of that. With this kind of life insurance, your premium is leveraged against an index, which over time will earn cash value, making your policy worth more than what your beneficiary receives if you pass away. There are also living benefits with an IUL. You can borrow money from it to start a business, for example.
Stick to the Basics
Not only do you need to rebalance your investments to adjust for risk, but you should also keep in mind some of the advice you received about investing in your 20s and 30s. You still need to max out your employer match in your 401(k) at work, and you should also invest in an IRA or Roth IRA account to continue building your retirement savings using a safe, simple investment vehicle. Additionally, if you have an IRA account, remember that these — as opposed to a 401(k) account — have a later age when you’re required to make withdrawals. IRAs let you wait until you’re 70 ½ years old.
Don’t forget about the 529 accounts and saving for college! This investment will be extremely important to you in the future when you’re kids are going to college, and since you have a shorter time to save than you do with your retirement savings, it’s important to get started on these accounts now.
Talk to Someone
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re far from alone. The good news is there are lots of people who can help you get on the right track to building a financial future you’re excited about.