Midlife crisis aside, age 40 is the time when many adults start to worry about their post-retirement finances. Even if they already have a plan set in place, many 40-somethings worry that the money saved won’t be enough to support a fulfilling retirement.
Part of this worry comes from knowing or seeing individuals in their 50’s and even 60’s who are still working because they don’t have enough money saved to retire. You certainly don’t want this to happen to you!
Now is the time to put in the hours and the effort to make sure you can retire when you want to. Keep reading to learn tips that will help you on your way to a happy, financially stable retirement.
Eradicate Bad Habits
The time has come to stop the bad financial habits you may have picked up during your 20’s and 30’s. These habits are easy to forget about. You might not even realize you’re hurting your financial future. Bad habits include:
• Incurring bank fees
• Relying on credit cards
• Borrowing money
• Not saving
• Paying bills late
Identify your bad habits and make a serious effort to unlearn them. It’s time to shift the focus from spending and borrowing to investing and saving.
Make a Plan
If you don’t have a retirement plan, make one. Sit down with your partner, meet with a financial adviser if needed, and formulate a plan. Although opinions differ on what makes a reliable retirement plan, the idea is to replace your income when you are no longer working. The plan should outline your goals in regards to income and include specific steps to get you there. Identify potential sources of income, estimate your retirement expenses, and start implementing the plan today.
Boost your Savings
Most employers offer 401(k), 403(b), or 457 plans for employees. The most you can save per year with a 401(k) is $18,000. Be sure to contribute as much as you can. Keep in mind that all the money going into a 401(k) is pre-tax. Plus, many companies will match your contribution with a certain percentage.
You can boost your savings by setting up an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). A Traditional IRA allows you to contribute up to $5,500 per year if you earn less than $61,000 per year. This money is tax-deductible.
Roth IRAs, on the other hand, offer tax-free earnings and withdrawals during your retirement years. Last year, single taxpayers could contribute up to $5,500 per year with a Roth IRA. Married couples can contribute up to $6,500 each per year. Keep in mind that if you earn more than $131,000 annually, you may face additional restrictions. Whatever retirement plans you choose, make sure you are taking full advantage of them during your working years.
Don’t Sacrifice Retirement Savings for College Savings
Many 40-somethings make the mistake of putting their kids’ education before their own retirement. While saving for college is important, it becomes a problem when you hit age 40 and you’ve saved for your kids but not for yourself. Plus, retirement savings plans offer many benefits that you don’t get when putting money away for college.
Let’s face it: students have countless options when it comes to funding a college education. They can apply for grants, scholarships, loans, and work-study problems. Encourage your children to start working in high school and maintain a part-time job during college. This will teach them important time management skills, financial responsibility, and improve their resume when they graduate.
Live Beneath your Means
If you find that you are no longer struggling financially like you were in your 20’s and 30’s, great! While a vacation to Europe and an expensive car may be tempting, now is not the time to be spending more money. If you’re earning more money, you should be saving more money. Tighten your spending, increase your savings, and cut out unnecessary expenses like shopping and dining out.
Did you know that in 2014 the average American’s credit card debt was over $5,000? Make a goal to be debt-free before you hit age 50. If you are in credit card debt, make sure to may the maximum amount on time every month to minimize interest and avoid late fees.
Refinance your Home
Although not an option for everyone, refinancing makes since for 40-somethings because it can significantly reduce monthly payments. Most plans save homeowners $200 or more a month. That can really add up over the years. Plus, you can take that extra money and put it directly into a savings account or an IRA.
The big decision is whether to extend your mortgage term or refinance to a shorter-term loan. You can speak with an expert or use an online refinance calculator to find out what option works best for you and your family.
It takes a lot of discipline to prepare for retirement, but if you make a serious effort you’ll be surprised how quickly your savings start to add up.