Financial Strategies for Your 40’s

As you enter into your 40’s you might feel a sense of financial stability as your career and income have most likely stabilized. However, you might also feel challenged as your obligations may have increased and left you unsure of how to prioritize them.

  • Do you focus on saving for your children’s education?
  • How much should you save for emergencies versus retirement?
  • Do you provide financial assistance to your parents? You are after all, part of the sandwich generation; carrying for and providing financial support to your parents while still raising your children.

Your 40’s is an important decade in your life as it is the time to significantly build your retirement savings.With that in mind, there are five main goals that you should focus on during this decade.

You should aim to build your emergency savings to cover 6-12 months of unemployment or emergencies. Hopefully in your 30’s you were able to build your emergency savings to cover up to 6- months of lost income. In your 40’s, you should continue to build your emergency savings to cover up to one year of lost income so that you can weather most emergencies and unexpected events.

In order to ensure you can adequately meet your financial obligations, emergency savings should be paired with the appropriate purchase of insurance for yourself and your significant other. It is important to have an adequate insurance policy to meet your family obligations through your youngest child’s college graduation. It is also important to ensure you have obtained other risk mitigating insurance, such as an umbrella policy, to cover personal liabilities that could potentially risk your financial well-being. Your 40’s should also be a time to explore long-term care and disability insurance. Even if your healthy and have a sizeable emergency fund, your 40’s is a decade where many people may be depending on you for their well-being. It is important that an unforeseen health issue does not leave your loved ones exposed to financial hardship.

Your fourth decade is the time when you need to open and maximize your contributions to your retirement accounts. Hopefully you had the opportunity to contribute to an employer sponsored retirement plan or individual retirement account (IRA) when you were in your 20’s or 30’s. If the opportunity was not available, don’t worry, it is not too late. Currently, for 2015, the 401k and IRA contribution limits for individuals under the age of 50 are $18,000 and $5,500, respectively. Now that you are in your 40’s your goal should be to maximize your contribution amounts. If your employer offers a 401k match, you should always contribute the required amount to receive the match. Any match given to you is free money after all. If you are self-employed, now is the time to setup a retirement account for your business. Some self-employed retirement accounts have the ability to contribute considerably more than the $18,000 limit.

If you have children, or are considering saving for a special someone’s education, you should consider opening and contributing to a college savings plan, such as a 529 or Coverdell account. Your individual family’s circumstances will help guide you as to which type of college savings account is best for your children’s needs. The earlier you start saving for your children’s education, the better off you and your children will be when the first tuition bill comes.

If all this seems challenging and intimidating, don’t worry. You are not alone. In order to help you figure out how much to save for retirement, college, or navigate the various insurance options, it is important to create a financial life plan that includes long-term savings, debt reduction, and risk mitigation. Your financial life plan will serve as the road map to properly guide you through the coming decades. If you don’t know where to start, there are numerous financial professionals who you can turn to for help and guidance.

In summary, your five money goals in your 40’s should be:

  1. Establish and build up your emergency savings fund (6-12 month liquid cash).
  2. Open and maximize contributions to your retirement accounts.
  3. Open and contribute to college savings plans for your children.
  4. Purchase adequate insurance for yourself and business (if applicable).
  5. Create a financial life plan that includes long-term savings and debt reduction while you are still living for today.

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