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Your 40s used to seem so far off, didn’t they? Yet, here you are.
Hopefully, you feel more financially established than you did during your younger years. If that’s the case, you’ve likely got the hang of budgeting already. Still, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re where you want to be. It also doesn’t mean you can give up on those financial goals just yet.
Your 40s are a crucial time for ironing out any financial kinks and taking action for even more success in the future. With that in mind, here are 6 financial goals you should try to meet in your 40s.
#1) Pay Off Your Student Loans
If you still have student loans hanging around, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Education ain’t cheap, and – hopefully – the debt you acquired to finance your schooling helped put you in a stronger financial position over the years.
By the time you’re in your 40s, though, you’ve got other financial goals…and keeping your income tied up in student loan payments isn’t helping. They’ve got to go, like now.
If you haven’t already, be sure to explore your options for refinancing. You might be able to save some money on interest and get your student loans paid off even faster. Credible helps you to compare rates from multiple lenders all in one spot. Plus, they’ll offer you a $200 bonus if you use this link and refinance with them!
#2) Improve Your Credit
Poor credit doesn’t just affect your ability to get a loan. People with poor credit pay higher interest rates, may be charged higher insurance premiums, and more.
To get back on track, start monitoring your credit score and taking steps to improve it. Begin with a free credit score from Credit Sesame. Then, check your free annual credit report from each of the three credit bureaus and review them for mistakes. (You’d be surprised how common it is!) Improve your credit score quickly by making at least the minimum payments and doing it on time!
#3) Supercharge Your Retirement Savings
If you’ve already built a nice nest egg, good for you! Boost your retirement savings even more by investing more and/or trimming the fat. Use this free 401(k) checkup from Blooom to help optimize your retirement savings!
For those who haven’t started saving for retirement yet, I’m not gonna sugar coat this: You’ve already lost valuable time that you can’t recover. Unless you’ve got a big inheritance or lottery win in your future, you’re probably not retiring comfortably at 55. Obviously, the best time to start would have been 15 or 20 years ago, BUT the second-best time is right now. So, start building regular investment contributions into your budget right away.
Does your employer offer a 401(k) with matching? If so, jump on the opportunity for free money! Also, consider investing even more in an IRA. Then, contribute as much as you can afford to help yourself catch up. Using an automated system like Betterment makes it super easy. Hurry, though – there’s no time to waste!
#4) Pay Off Your Mortgage
If you’re a homeowner, your 40s are prime time for paying off your mortgage. You’re likely well established in your career at this point, so you should be able to afford some extra payments. If that’s the case, I highly recommend you do it!
The longer you have your mortgage, the more interest you’ll pay…and it can cost you tens of thousands of dollars!
For example, if you took out a 30-year mortgage for $200,000 at 4.5% interest, you’d actually pay about $365,000 for your house! If you bought the same house at the same price and rate BUT paid it off in 15 years, you’d only pay about $275,000. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather use that $90,000 for something other than mortgage interest.
So, how can you pay off your mortgage quicker?
- Switch from monthly or semi-monthly to accelerated bi-weekly payments – This makes sense because most people are paid bi-weekly. It saves you money because you’ll actually end up paying one extra mortgage payment per year. That means your balance will be paid sooner, and you’ll pay less in interest.
- Make extra payments – Anything extra you pay toward your mortgage should be credited to your principal balance. (Be sure that it does!!!) This means a shorter amortization and less money paid toward interest.
- Consider refinancing – If you’ve got a big rate or your credit score has improved recently, look into refinancing your mortgage. Again, a lower rate typically means less money spent on interest. Compare rates from multiple lenders here.
#5) Save for Children’s Education
If you have kids, you’ve probably given a lot of thought to saving for their education. These days, it’s certainly not cheap. The last thing you’d want is for your kids to be saddled with huge student loans.
As with any financial goal, the best course of action is to start early and make it a regular part of your budget. You might consider a state-sponsored 529 Education Savings Plan, or maybe you’d prefer an individual investment vehicle instead. Whatever you choose, I recommend treating a bi-weekly contribution as one of your recurring expenses.
I’m throwing this in because A) I’m a travel junkie and B) including travel as one of my financial goals helps keep me focused. Maybe travel isn’t your jam, but I believe improving your quality of life should be one of your financial goals in your 40s.
If you love traveling or have always wanted to travel, the time is now! Maybe you can’t afford to take a trip this year, but by starting a savings account just for travel, you’ll probably be able to go next year. Personally, I think this list of the best high yield savings accounts is a great way to save for something like this.
Maybe it’s not travel for you – maybe it’s another hobby. That’s cool. Whatever it is, make sure you set aside some money to invest in your own happiness. Like everything else we’ve talked about, the key is to make saving for it a regular part of your budget. Get in the habit of setting aside a certain amount from every paycheck, and it doesn’t take long to add up if you stay committed.
What are some of your financial goals for your forties? Share them in the comments below!