Each decade of your lifetime comes with its own series of financial opportunities and challenges. In particular, your 40s and beyond are important years to hone in on and prioritize your financial goal planning, as you inch closer towards retirement.
While your long-term financial goals, such as maintaining your retirement savings, may stay in place throughout the years, you will inevitably encounter different short- and mid-term goals at each stage of your life.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the most common financial considerations for people in their 40s, 50s and 60s, followed by some proven ways to meet your financial goals at any life stage.
40s: the mid-career stage
Many people in their 40s are entering their peak earning years. While retirement may still seem miles away, you may be concerned over whether or not you are saving enough for a comfortable retirement.
Common financial priorities at the mid-career stage include:
- Paying down debt, including a mortgage
- Saving and/or paying for children’s education
- Saving and investing more for retirement
- Protecting your family through life insurance and making a will
- Saving for short-term goals, such as family vacations, second properties or home renovations
- Preparing to pay for aging parents’ care
- Making a mid-career change, such as starting a business
- Maintaining an emergency savings fund for any unforeseen events, such as illness
50s: the pre-retirement stage
By your 50s, your thoughts will likely turn more towards preserving rather than building wealth. You may also be considering planning for early retirement.
Common financial priorities at the pre-retirement stage include:
- Paying down any remaining debt
- Catching up with retirement savings
- Developing a retirement plan, including having a clearer idea of what your ideal retirement looks like and how you will pay for it
- Moving to part-time work or self-employment
- Covering ongoing family expenses while still saving enough for retirement
- Downsizing your home if your children have flown the nest
- Adjusting your investment strategy to focus more on protecting your wealth
- Estate planning
60s: the early retirement stage
Retirement is right up there with moving out, getting married, and starting a family as one of life’s major changes. As you navigate your 60s, you will suddenly have a lot more time, but also potentially less income.
Common financial priorities at the early retirement stage include:
- Becoming, or staying, debt-free
- Budgeting for retirement, including potentially lowering your spending to adjust to a lower income
- Downsizing your home, or making sure your mortgage is paid off
- Paying for travel
- Adjusting your investment portfolio
- Putting money aside for possible medical care
- Estate planning and your financial legacy
Setting SMART goals
In order to successfully focus on your financial priorities and effectively achieve your financial goals, consider using the SMART method of goal-setting at each stage of life. Using this method, your goals should be:
- Specific: Specific goals give you a clear target to aim for, e.g. “Pay off $5,000 loan” instead of “Pay down debt”.
- Measurable: A more specific goal like the above also enables you to measure your progress to ensure you stay on track.
- Achievable: Use your knowledge of your own strengths and weaknesses to set achievable goals.
- Realistic: Be realistic about what you can achieve. It’s good to aim high, but you are more likely to achieve realistic goals.
- Timely: Every goal should have a deadline attached to it so you can create a realistic plan for achieving it and track progress as the deadline approaches.
Reviewing your financial goals
Regularly reviewing your goals is another essential part of reaching them. Your plan isn’t a document intended to be left gathering dust in a drawer; it should be a “living document” designed to evolve as your life changes.
The best advice starts with a conversation with a qualified advisor. They can provide a set of fresh eyes and an educated second opinion to help you clarify any changes to your plan, or identify alternative strategies that could help you achieve your financial goals on time.
For more advice on reaching your financial goals, visit islandsavings.ca