Time to get serious.
Think of how your life has changed in the last 30 years. How different it is today compared to your twenties. Just as your lifestyle and needs changed from back then, they will change from your 60s to your 90s. In your 50s, retirement planning gets serious. At this age, the focus for most people will be on building up their wealth and protecting the value of their existing investments as they get nearer to retirement. Below is a checklist of some of the key things to start thinking about in your 50s.
50-something Financial Checklist
Plan for the future
- Think about when you want to retire
- Focus on reducing fixed expenses
- Find passions
- Plan big trips when you are still working
- Take care of your health
Make a plan
As the old adage goes, failing to plan is planning to fail. The good news is that it’s never too late to start planning. With retirement on the horizon, it’s more important than ever to have a solid financial plan in place. A good financial plan will be able to show you what you need to do to have a successful retirement.
Catch-up contributions for retirement
The most common tax-favored retirement accounts, such as a 401(k), 403(b), or IRA have limits on how much you can contribute each year. One of the benefits of turning 50 is that the IRS allows “catch-up contributions”. You can now contribute an additional $6,000 a year to your 401(k) & 403(b) up to a total of $24,000 and an additional $1,000 a year into your IRA up to a total of $6,500.
The younger you are the more risk you can handle, but as you get older and closer to retirement it’s important to reassess how much risk your investment accounts have. Make sure that the risk you take on is aligned with your risk capacity and risk tolerance. In other words, how much investment portfolio loss can you handle emotionally AND financially, within the time horizon of your goals. If you have a large concentration in company stock, it would be wise to start diversifying. Understand what risk you are comfortable taking and what risk you NEED to take on to reach your goals. Remember, the way you invest for 5 years is very different from the way you invest for 20 years. As goals get closer, look to adjust your asset allocation so that you are not taking on as much investment risk.
If you haven’t done any estate planning, it’s not too late. And it’s a priority, more than ever. Whether you wish to provide financial assistance to your loved ones or a favorite charity, or simply to be remembered for the impact you made during your lifetime, this is the time to build or refine your estate plan.
As retirement approaches, the ability to earn income and save money becomes even more important. This is because you are at your career earnings peak and should be saving for retirement more than ever. Considering that you and your spouse rely on each other to fund retirement, make sure you have enough life insurance in place to cover your remaining working years.
Most people will require care at some point in their lives. Depending on your current and future financial situation, it might be a good idea to look into long-term care insurance (LTC) to avoid having to cash out savings to afford it.
Plan for the future
Think about when you want to retire
Perfectly timing your retirement is easier said than done. And much of the decision will depend on how well you saved in your 50s. It’s important to keep in mind that the decision to retire 5 years earlier (say 62 vs. 67) has a 10-year impact on your retirement. That’s because you are not only missing out on 5 years of retirement savings contributions but also because you are withdrawing from those accounts 5 years early. An interesting point to ponder.
Focus on reducing fixed expenses
As you near retirement, focus on paying down any debts and reducing any fixed expenses that would limit your discretionary spending in your golden years. Doing small things now, such as paying a little extra on your mortgage each month, will help you substantially in the long run.
Once you retire, you will need to find things to fill your time that was once taken up by work. Whether it be taking your family traveling, starting a business, or joining an Led Zeppelin cover band, start thinking about all the passions that you will soon have time to enjoy.
Plan big trips when you are still working
For most people, there will be big trips you will want to do when you reach retirement. This is great but there is nothing stopping you from taking those trips now, whilst you still have working income. Set some time aside to plan for the dream trips you’ve always wanted.
Take care of your health
It’s easy to underestimate the risk of having a health issue and overestimate the support you will receive in the future. Taking care of your health now will likely determine your health in the next decade and beyond, so make sure you are doing all you can to live a long healthy life.
Consider working with a financial advisor
Great financial advice should cost you much less in the long term than no advice at all. Aside from the costs of time and energy that go into managing your finances, the opportunity costs of not making the right financial decisions, in the long run, can be large. Working with an experienced financial advisor is no different to working with a top personal trainer in ensuring that you’re doing everything you can to reach your goals.
With Zoe you have access to the top 5% of advisors in the US – chat with us today about finding the right person for you.
If you enjoyed this post, check out Don’t Plan For Retirement, Plan For Life Satisfaction.