Generally speaking, many wise adults see a doctor when they hit 50. And the great thing about (most) doctors, is that they’re not financially-incentivized to advise you towards a specific course of action.
So, I thought I would take the time this week to give you an objective, “incentive-free” look at what your finances should look like when you hit the half-century mark. If you are close to that mark, I thought it might be useful for me to lay out the “perfect” scenario.
And look–if you’re not perfect, at least let it be a benchmark…
We should have been saving and investing 15% of our income regularly. Even if we don’t want to retire until age 70, by 50 we should be well on our way toward securing our retirement. We have managed to save about eight times our annual lifestyle spending. With a $100,000 per year lifestyle, that means we should have saved about $800,000 toward our retirement.
We are probably at the point where our children are in college or have recently graduated. When college funding is complete, it’s time to reevaluate and perhaps drop term life insurance coverage depending on our individual circumstances. We purchased the insurance to make sure our children would have enough money to complete their education. When term premiums rise and college accounts are fully funded, we should probably drop our coverage.
Our estate plan should be in place and fully implemented. And, of course, various assets are handled differently. This is the time to make a complete review of how our plan is put together, to ensure that EVERY asset (not just the tangible ones) are still handled properly.
And, for you “imperfect” savers, we have one last chance after children and before retirement to catch up. Age 50 is the first year we are allowed to take advantage of increased savings and catch-up provisions. Maximum savings in a 401(k) or 403(b) account increases from $16,500 to $22,000 at age 50. Roth contributions also increase from $5,000 a year to $6,000. If we don’t have eight times our lifestyle spending saved, now is the time to press these limits.
Of course, saving well is half the battle; investing well is the other half.
Of course life is too short to ignore meaning at any age. But for many people 50 is a milestone that reminds us to stop and reevaluate. There is still time for a whole new life of significance.