Entering your 40s is a significant milestone that often comes with a greater sense of financial responsibility and planning. It is often the busiest decade of your life, and you are also halfway between entering the workforce and the traditional retirement age. This decade can set the tone for your financial well-being in the years to come. Here are 13 essential financial planning tips to help you navigate your 40s with confidence and foresight.
What should I do financially in my 40s?
Assess your current financial situation
The first step to successful financial planning is to look at your current financial status. Evaluate your assets, liabilities, income, and expenses. Have you saved a good chunk of money at 40, or do you feel behind? Is your money in the right retirement accounts, or is the bulk just sitting in cash? Understanding where you stand financially provides the foundation for making informed decisions moving forward.
Set clear financial goals
Define your short-term and long-term financial goals. Are you saving for a 20% down payment for a vacation home? Would you like to retire at 55? Do you want to help finance two years of your child’s college expenses? Setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals provides a roadmap for your financial decisions.
Supercharge your retirement savings
Retirement planning takes center stage in your 40s. Contribute as much as possible to retirement accounts such as 401(k)s, IRAs, or similar tax-advantaged accounts. Aim to max out these contributions to take advantage of compounding over time. If you haven’t started saving for retirement, now is the time to catch up. Saving via a brokerage account is another way to supercharge your retirement nest egg.
Pay off high-interest debt
One of the most important things that you can do for your finances in your 40s is to pay down any high-interest debt. Did you get a HELOC to finance your kitchen renovation? Develop a plan for paying off credit card debt, personal loans, lines of credit, and other outstanding balances. You could even set a goal to be completely high-interest debt-free by the end of your 40s. There are several great methods of repaying debt, including the avalanche and snowball methods.
Our team of financial planners can help you decide which debt strategy may work best for you. With debt payments freed up, you can redirect those funds to savings and investments.
Plan for college expenses
If you have children, planning for college may be one of your main financial goals in your 40s. Consider setting up tax-advantaged college savings plans such as a 529. A 529 plan works like a Roth IRA by allowing you to invest your after-tax income and then that money grows on a tax-deferred basis. When used for qualified education expenses, that money is tax-free for your child.
To avoid jeopardizing your retirement plan, saving for college needs to be balanced with other financial goals. While your kids have dozens of options for paying for college, you have almost none if you run out of money during retirement. Also, you may decide not to help out with your kids’ college education expenses, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
If you haven’t already, download these 5 tips to boost your child’s college fund. It will help you build a powerful college fund that will pave the way for a prosperous future for your child.
6. Protect your assets and loved ones
In your 40s, risk management is an important part of financial planning. You want to ensure that you and your family are protected in the event of a tragedy. Evaluate your insurance coverage to ensure it aligns with your current needs. This includes health insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, and even long-term care insurance. Adequate coverage provides financial security for unexpected events.
You may also want to consider additional coverage, such as umbrella insurance, as your assets and responsibilities grow.
Update your estate plan
As your assets and family grow, review and update your estate plan. Draft or revise your will, establish trusts if necessary, and designate beneficiaries for retirement accounts and life insurance policies. A well-structured estate plan ensures your wishes are carried out and minimizes potential complications for your loved ones. No matter if you are donating your entire estate to a charity or your children, you’ll gain the comfort of knowing that your wishes will be fulfilled.
Stay informed of financial trends and strategies. Educate yourself about investment trends, tax strategies, and other financial topics. You may want to consult a fee-only financial advisor who can provide personalized advice based on your unique circumstances. They will look at the big picture, including retirement, investments, college funding, and other goals, to create a holistic financial plan.
Reevaluate career and income goals
You might want to reevaluate your career path and income goals as you enter your 40s. Determine whether your current job aligns with your financial objectives and work-life balance. Explore opportunities for advancement or consider whether a career change is warranted.
Build an emergency fund
An emergency fund is important at every age, but it is especially important in your 40s. Ideally, the fund should cover living expenses for at least three to six months. Consider keeping this money in a separate account so that you aren’t tempted to spend it. Manage your emergency fund as the years go by and make sure that you increase the amount if your living expenses increase. For example, having your own business may mean that you need a higher emergency fund.
Don’t forget to enjoy the present
While prudent financial planning is vital, it’s also important to enjoy the present. Find a balance between living for today and saving for tomorrow. Allocate resources for experiences that bring joy while ensuring your long-term financial security remains intact.
Set a date for financial freedom, and make it happen
What age do you want to be financially free? Decide on that age and plan accordingly. You reach financial freedom as soon as you can cover your living expenses with passive income from your investments. At this point, work becomes optional, and you may use that time to spend time with family or pursue your hobbies.
13. Consult with a financial advisor
While this is a long list of things to do, you don’t have to figure it out on your own. Your 40s is a great time to speak to a financial advisor. If you are interested in a comprehensive financial plan, please schedule a free discovery consultation. We specialize in helping people in their 30s and 40s maximize their money. We will be with you every step of the way, to help you achieve your financial goals in your 40s and beyond.
How much should I have saved for retirement at age 40?
The average retirement savings a person should have at age 40 varies significantly depending on individual circumstances, financial goals, and income levels. Many financial experts suggest you should have 3 times your yearly pre-tax salary saved by 40 years old. This means if you are 40 and earn $150,000 annually, you ideally should have saved $450,000 for retirement.
However, most people, have not reached this amount by age 40. Only about 55% of people between the ages of 35 and 44 have a retirement account, and the median balance is $60,000.
Even though retirement may seem far away when you’re in your 40s, saving for retirement is essential to take care of yourself later in life. If you haven’t saved much for retirement yet, don’t worry, there is still plenty of time to save if you do it wisely. You can jumpstart the whole process by working with a fiduciary financial advisor.
What is the median net worth at 40?
According to the Federal Reserve’s 2019 Consumer Finances Survey, the median American household in the 35-44 age group has a net worth of $91,300, while the household in the 45-54 age group has a net worth of $168,600. However, the average net worth in these two age groups is $436,200 and $833,200 respectively. The average net worth is skewed by a small number of households with an extremely high net worth.
Also, keep in mind that net worth includes asset values minus any debts. Someone may have a net worth of $100,000 with all that money in the bank, and no debt. Someone else with the same net worth could have $1.5 million in assets but owe $1.4 million in mortgage and other debt. Net worth doesn’t tell the whole story about someone’s financial situation.
Is $100,000 in savings good at age 40?
Having $100,000 in savings at age 40 can be considered a good accomplishment for many people. However, its significance can vary depending on your circumstances, financial goals, and cost of living in your area. It is best to consult with a financial advisor who can provide personalized advice based on your specific circumstances.
Is 40 too old to start a Roth IRA?
No, 40 is not too old to start a Roth IRA. While starting a Roth IRA at a younger age allows for more time to benefit from compounded growth, starting at 40 can still be a valuable financial move. There are several advantages to a Roth IRA, including tax-free withdrawals at retirement and flexible investment options. If you’re no longer eligible for a Roth IRA, you can opt for a backdoor Roth strategy.
What is the best investment at age 40?
The best investment strategy at age 40 depends on your financial goals, risk tolerance, and current financial situation. You still have several years until retirement, so you may want to assume some risk and have a moderately aggressive investment approach to potentially grow your wealth over time.
Investing, however, involves risk, and returns are not guaranteed. It’s important to have a long-term perspective and your investment strategy should align with your financial goals and risk tolerance. It’s best to consult with a financial advisor who can provide personalized investment advice based on your specific goals and risk tolerance.
Maximize your wealth in your 40s so that you can retire early
Your 40s are a crucial period for securing your financial future. By assessing your current situation, setting clear goals, managing debt, diversifying investments, and protecting your assets, you can navigate this decade with confidence. Remember, financial planning is a continuous journey that requires periodic reviews and adjustments. With careful planning and dedication, you can set yourself on a path toward financial success and a comfortable or even early retirement.
It’s never too late to take control of your finances. If you are interested in a comprehensive financial plan, schedule a free discovery consultation today!
Alvin Carlos, CFP®, CFA is an investment advisor and fee-only financial planner, in Washington, D.C that works with clients across the country. He has a Master’s degree in International Relations from SAIS-Johns Hopkins. Alvin is a partner of District Capital, a financial planning firm designed to help professionals in their 30s and 40s achieve their financial goals through smart investing, reducing taxes, retirement planning, and maximizing their money. Schedule a free discovery call to learn how we can help elevate your finances.