The financial planning moves that helped you build a foundation or support your family awhile ago may not be enough now that you’re in your forties. This decade might be the first time you really feel the pressure of a looming retirement, send your kids off to college, or debate downsizing your family home.
Wherever you are in your forties, there are some universal money moves that will help you prepare for the next year, next 10 years, and beyond.
Know Where You Stand
Most people go day to day, saving where they can. They hope it’ll add up to enough for their retired years. Do you know exactly how much you have saved? What about how much you need? It’s easy to ignore the long-term when you’re buried in day-to-day costs and unexpected expenses. Being conscious of your goals makes it easier to plan a way to get there. So, break your retirement needs down into very specific numbers.
Try using a retirement calculator if you’re struggling to come up with a goal number or your next financial planning moves. That awareness will help you move toward your goal, even if it’s a little bit at a time.
Contribute to Your 401(k)
If you have a 401(k), 403(b) or TSP through your employer, work on maxing it out or adding to it as much as you can.
It pays to do your research. Be aware of different retirement plan options. Talk to your HR department to get clear on what your company offers.
Does your employer participate in a retirement matching program? If they have agreed to match what you’re saving for retirement (usually up to 5%,) try to make that your minimum investment. That extra boost will make a huge difference in the long run.
Invest in Yourself
If you think taking classes was just for your 20s, think again. Learning a new skill is important for your mind and your career. Getting that certification or applying for a new position at work keeps you marketable, sharpens your mind and can earn you more money. The world is changing rapidly. Keeping up with those advances will help you stay adaptable and valuable in your career.
Be Wary of Lifestyle Inflation
Someone in their 40s is likely to be established in their career and family lives. As a result, it’s easy to get lax on a budget. If you can afford more than your needs, it’s tempting to start upgrading. Maybe you want a nicer car, bigger backyard or fancier vacation.
It’s fine to treat yourself and your family but do it consciously. Keep it within the parameters of your major financial goals. Don’t let your costs get out of control.
Check Up on Your Asset Allocation
Have you looked over your investments in awhile? You might not want to assume as much risk with your investments as you did when you were younger. Your portfolio should be diversified in a way that feels balanced to you.
Try to rebalance at least once a year. You should have a healthy mix of stocks, bonds and cash in your portfolio.
Ask for Help with Financial Planning Moves
Finally, your 40s is an ideal time to work with a financial planner. You probably have a more consistent income and aren’t dealing with the major family and career shifts that come with your 20s and 30s. You also have enough time before retirement to make some strategic financial planning moves.
So if managing your finances and planning for the future feels overwhelming, or you don’t have the time to dedicate to it, a financial planner can help you sort through it all. Look for an experienced fee-only financial advisor who will collaborate with you, your family, and your long-term goals to create a plan that’s right for you.