If you’re at or near your 40th birthday, retirement is probably still a couple decades away for you. That said, if you haven’t started saving for retirement yet, it can seem too close for comfort. Don’t panic though. There is still plenty of time to get ready for retirement, provided you take the time now to plan and commit to saving. With that in mind, here is a guide for how to invest for retirement at age 40.
How Much You Should Have Saved at 40
There is no one-size-fits-all answer for how much you should have saved by age 40. The question of how much you should have saved depends largely on what your goals for retirement are. If you plan to do a lot of travel and stay in the single-family home you raised your kids in, you might need more than if you’re planning to downsize to an apartment and mostly be a homebody.
Once you’ve thought about what your life in retirement is going to look like – and you know at what age you think you might want to retire – you can start figuring out what’s a good savings goal for you to aim for and whether or not you’re on track.
If you have a 401(k) plan through your employer, you can use this 401(k) calculator to estimate how much your savings will be worth.
What to Do If You Have No Savings
If you’re 40 and have no savings, count yourself lucky – you could be 50 and have no savings. Yes, it would have been nice to start earlier, but you’ve got plenty of time to catch up and make sure you get back on track to retire at a reasonable age and enjoy your golden years.
Think about what options you have. If you have access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan like a 401(k) or a 403(b) make sure to take advantage of them. Your company may even match some of your contributions to these plans. If so, check out how much your match is and at what percentage. This is free money, so if you’re behind in your savings, you should make sure that contributing enough to your plan to take advantage of it.
Save beyond your 401(k) plan if you can. After you’ve reached the yearly maximum for your 401(k), think about other investing options like a Roth IRA or even a money market account with a high interest rate. Once you’ve figured out how much money you can afford to save, make sure you invest all of it in vehicles that are going to make your money work for you. Saving money is great, but if you’re going catch up with your retirement goals you need to boost your savings. Keeping the money you’re saving in a checking account won’t do that, so invest as much as you can in products that will make money for you.
Investment Strategies for 40-Year-Olds
First off, if you have enough investable assets, think about getting a financial advisor. A financial advisor will work with you to make sure you’re able to meet your retirement goals, and they will direct you to the investments most likely to pay off in the end. Make sure your advisor is a fiduciary, meaning they have to keep your best interests in mind when making investment decisions.
If you’ve decided against using a financial advisor, you can also learn to invest on your own. Consider reading one of the top investing books for guidance. Many experts recommend having a diverse mix of investments. At age 40, some experts will say that you can probably afford to take some risk, but also look for more stable investments like index funds and bonds. The thinking behind this is while these likely won’t have the explosive returns investing in individual stocks can have, they’re also less likely to have catastrophic losses. This should make sure you’re safe for your retirement.
The Bottom Line
- Don’t forget about taxes. The state you retire in will have a big impact on what your retirement future looks like, as some states are much more friendly to retirees when it comes to taxes than others. SmartAsset has created a guide to retirement taxes that allows you to see how your state rates for retirement tax friendliness, or look for other states you might settle in.
- Social Security. Keep in mind you’ll also be getting a check each month for Social Security. SmartAsset’s free Social Security calculator shows you how much you can expect to receive in Social Security once you reach retirement age.
- Consider working with a financial advisor. Planning for retirement can be stressful and confusing. It’s also incredibly important that you make the right decisions in order to set yourself up for a secure financial future. A financial advisor can help you to do just that. A matching tool like SmartAsset’s can help you find a person to work with to meet your needs. First you’ll answer a series of questions about your situation and goals. Then the program will narrow down your options from thousands of advisors to up to three registered investment advisors who suit your needs. You can then read their profiles to learn more about them, interview them on the phone or in person and choose who to work with in the future. This allows you to find a good fit while the program does much of the hard work for you.
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