Your Personal Finance Checklist at Age 40
As you get older, your financial needs change dramatically. You may have to provide for one or more children, make a rent or mortgage payment and start thinking seriously about saving for retirement. What are some financial items that you should have on your financial checklist when you hit 40?
Take a Look at Your Retirement Savings Accounts
Now is the time to start analyzing your retirement accounts to determine if you have saved enough to one day stop working. If not, it may be possible to increase the amount that you save each month or switch to investments that offer higher levels of growth. Another option may be to push back the age at which you want to retire to give you more time to save as well as provide more time for your money to compound while in the market.
Have You Saved Enough Money to Get Through an Emergency?
While you should always set aside money for your retirement, it is important that you have money to get you through today. Ideally, you will have enough money to get through six months without any cash coming in. However, those who don’t have anything saved may want to start small by saving just a few dollars a week. The goal at first should be to have enough money to get through a small emergency like a car repair or a dental bill.
How Much of Your Income Goes to Creditors?
One of the best ways to set yourself up financially for the rest of your life is to start reducing your debt load. The first step in that process may be to look for ways in which you can reduce your interest rate or if a creditor will forgive some or all of a debt balance.
From there, it may be wise to put tax refunds, bonuses at work or any extra revenue that you bring in each month toward paying down debt. In many cases, putting an extra $20 or $50 a month toward a credit card will do more for your financial future than saving $20 or $50 a month.
Furthermore, you may want to think about ways to reduce your tax burden. This may be done by putting more of your self employment income into a retirement account or by finding additional business expenses that you can use a tax write-off.
Are You Doing Enough to Stay Healthy?
The cost of health care will be among your largest expenses when you get older. Therefore, it is in your best interest to do whatever you can to stay as healthy as possible. Going to the doctor, eating right and exercising regularly can reduce the odds that you are a victim of heart disease, cancer or other illnesses. A long-term care insurance policy may increase the odds that you are able to afford the cost of treatment without having to sell assets.
Are You Planning for the Cost of Your Child’s Education?
If you have children, you may want to pay for some or all of their college education. As costs are expected to rise, you need to have an investment plan that can adapt to meet your changing needs. Even if you don’t plan on paying for your child’s education, it is still a good idea to think about how to pay for things your son or daughter may need like braces or other medical care.
Are You Caring for Your Parents?
In addition to the long-term care costs that you may incur, you may be responsible for helping your parents handle their medical costs as well. This may mean that you allow them to live with you or that you help them pay their bills directly. By thinking ahead, you can develop a plan that allows you to care for your parents without ruining your own finances.
While you have plenty of life left once you turn 40, it is time to start thinking about how you will care for yourself, your kids and possibly your parents financially. Taking the time to understand your financial situation now may help you avoid going broke or running into other financial problems later in life.