If you’re like most people, by the time you’re 40, you’ve likely accumulated some debt. You might have a mortgage, car payment, student loans, credit card debt, or a combination of these and maybe haven’t given much consideration to what your next steps will or should be in regards to your finances. Now is the time to start prioritizing your finances so you’ll have the option to retire sooner rather than later, if you’d like, or just have options in general. Luckily, you’ve still got time to ensure a financially secure future by doing these five things before your 40th birthday.
1. Pay off your debt
If you have any outstanding debt from credit cards or student loans, it’s important to pay these off as soon as possible so you can put that money towards more valuable things instead like retirement. If you’re not sure how to become debt-free, try using the debt avalanche method as it’s an easy, effective solution for getting motivated to get rid of debt for good.
2. Meet with a financial advisor
Financial advisors are helpful professionals to have around when it comes to maximizing the potential of your money to build wealth. Financial advisors can help guide you no matter what you envision your retirement years to look like. Ensure you work with a professional that’s a fiduciary advisor as they’re legally obligated to make choices in your best interest regardless of the financial incentive.
3. Invest in more assets to build wealth
Once your debt is gone, you should think about how you’ll use the money that’s no longer going towards paying off your credit card bills. One thing to consider is investing in appreciating assets that will build equity over time and increase your net worth. Many people will invest in real estate, stocks and bonds, private equity, and long-term savings accounts like Certificates of Deposit (CDs).
4. Increase your retirement savings
The sooner you begin to put money away for retirement, the better off you’ll be when it’s time to leave the workforce. Any money put into dedicated retirement accounts like 401(k)s or IRAs and invested will accumulate interest every month. When that interest is realized, it increases your total balance saved, collecting more interest. This phenomenon is known as “compound interest” and is a fantastic way to make your savings earn more money with little effort from you. But you’ll need to start putting money away soon, so that compound interest has time to accumulate. Don’t hesitate to make this a priority.
5. Rebalance your portfolio
Your investment portfolio will often be heavily skewed towards riskier investments like tech or startup stocks when you’re younger. The theory for taking on more risk when you’re young is that you’ll have time to bounce back should something go wrong. However, when you’re entering your forties, it’s time to rebalance your portfolio to include less risky assets like bonds and cash. Your portfolio may grow more slowly when you have less money in stocks, but you’ll also be better protected from a market crash or recession. If you have a financial advisor, talk to them about what your best strategy for investments should be going forward. Turning 40 isn’t the only time to take action, though. You should also rebalance your portfolio during any significant life event such as divorce, marriage, the birth of children, retirement, job loss, etc.
The bottom line
These strategies will help you form an excellent foundation on which to build financial security, but only if you use them. Don’t put off making your finances a priority any longer. Commit to one of these five steps and add on once you’ve developed better money habits. The sooner you begin with the first step, the better your financial situation will be.