Tuesday, 20 November 2018
Just because you've reached some milestone birthdays doesn't mean you've reached all your financial goals.
If you're in your 50s or 60s and you feel behind financially, you're not alone: Baby Boomers are famously unprepared for retirement. Americans' lifespans continue to increase, so if you're 50-something or even 60- something, you can count on 20 or 30 more years to keep reaching for your financial goals. Here are five financial health indicators to keep an eye on.
Forty-one percent of families with heads ages 55 to 64 have credit card debt, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute. If you have credit card debt, paying it off should be one of your priority goals. Paying interest on past purchases may be preventing you from getting ahead in other areas—such as saving for retirement. Set a goal to pay off your credit cards as soon as possible so you can focus on saving for retirement or other priorities.
Only 39 percent of Americans have cash available to cover a $1,000 unexpected expense, according to a Bankrate survey. As you near retirement, the lack of an emergency fund could lead you to financial ruin: All it takes is one faulty transmission in your car, a broken kitchen appliance, or your home's heating system to create financial stress. If you don't have an emergency fund containing at least three to six months' worth of living expenses, start building one right away.
For many people in their 50s and 60s, the family home is their most valuable asset. If you are counting on your real estate assets to support you in retirement, remember you'll have to sell your home to liquidate the assets—and you'll need to make sure you have enough income or savings to cover another place for you to live.
Aside from real estate, take a hard look at your other investments and retirement savings. Nineteen percent of workers nearing retirement say they are not at all confident about having enough money to live through retirement, according to AARP. Baby Boomers and Gen Xers are more likely to live longer than those in earlier generations, which means more years to earn and build savings. It also increases the chances of outliving your savings. If your 401(k) or IRA has been invested aggressively, as you near retirement, you may need to consider rebalancing your portfolio to ensure you preserve your investment capital.
If you're still working, it's important to maximize your earnings by limiting your spending.If you don't already have one, develop a budget that includes saving at least 10 percent or 15 percent of your income each month. Aim to allocate 50 percent of your earnings on necessities such as housing, food and utilities; 30 percent on wants such as dining out, new shoes or traveling; and 20 percent to savings.
If your children are grown, it may be time to reconsider how much life insurance you need. The policy you've been paying for over the years may have been intended to cover your children's education or other expenses. But once they're grown, it may not be necessary for you to continue paying for it. Instead, you may want to consider a life insurance policy that will provide an inheritance for your heirs, or an annuity that will help ensure you won't outlive your savings in retirement.
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So you scored a windfall! But now what do you do with all that hot cash? Vacation? Pay debt? Maybe both.
Living on a budget doesn't mean you and your spouse or significant other have to stop going on dates.