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Money Smart in Your 40s

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Where You’re At

Hopefully, by your 40’s you feel comfortable enough with your finances that budgeting and saving are somewhat automated and stress-free. If you have student loans or consumer debt, the balances should be lower or at least on the way down faster than before. Maybe you have advanced in your career or started your own business. You may even have a mortgage and car payments. You are experienced enough to know what you need to improve on, but still young enough to have time to supercharge your finances before retirement.

Why It’s Important

Your 40’s is an optimal time to refocus your finances on retirement. Your income should be higher, and larger purchases or debt should be taking less of your disposable income. If you have been focusing on saving and debt payoff, your retirement may not be as robust as you like, but with retirement still a couple of decades off, you have plenty of time to catch up. Keep reading for smart tips to get your retirement on track. Retiring with enough money to cover your post-career life is still possible... even if you’re starting with zero retirement funds at 40. It’s just a matter of commitment and consistency.

How To Do It

As with anything in finances, the first step to retirement saving is simple—take that first step. Below are a few of our favorite tips for growing your retirement:

1. Find Out Exactly Where You Stand.

Do you know how much you have in your retirement right now? More importantly, do you know if you are on track to retire when and how you want? First and foremost, find out how much is in any account you have dedicated for retirement. This may be in a 401K, IRA, a personal retirement fund, or even a traditional savings account, to name a few. Regardless of where the funds are or how little you have, its important information to know so you know where to start. There are online calculators that can help you find out if what you have is enough and even how much you need to save to catch up.

2. Optimize Your Earnings.

If you have a private retirement fund, make sure it is in the right hands. Shop around to find investment companies that specialize in retirement, and have programs available to help you invest wisely. While aggressive investments can be fruitful in your earlier years, now is the time to focus on maintaining fund growth rather than taking risks for higher yields. A financial adviser at your investment company should be able to help find the right portfolio options for your goals. If you have a 401k, now is the time to take full advantage of any employer match. Find out the maximum amount your employer will contribute, and then adjust your withholdings to get as close to the max as you can.

3. Allocate Extra Income To Retirement.

As you advance in pay or receive extra funds (think tax refunds), rather than spending the extra money, move it directly to your retirement funds. While that may not feel very exciting, you will appreciate it later in life when you aren’t scrambling for retirement money. For example, if you receive a 5% raise, put that extra 5% each month into your retirement. If that seems too drastic, consider 4% or 3%, but make retirement the priority rather than other spending.

4. Start A Side Gig.

If you have extra time on your hands, and a talent or skill you enjoy, consider turning the time and effort into an extra income specifically for growing your retirement. Some great side gigs might be selling homemade items, providing handyman services, or driving for a ride-share company. While these endeavors may not earn you enough to be a full-time income, they are great ways to earn money on your terms and as you are able. Plus, your new side gig could be something you continue in retirement.

5. Diversify.

While it may be simpler to have only one retirement account or only one type of investment for that fund, you may not be earning as much for your portfolio as you could. Diversification not only can increase growth potential, but it can also protect you from loss. If one fund goes down, another may go up. Consult a financial advisor to see how you can better diversify your portfolio for retirement.