Managing Your Money at 50, 60, 70

Woman Balancing her finances

Money is so much more than just cold, hard cash. How we relate to money is often highly emotional, and our personal monetary profile is as unique as our DNA. But whatever your feelings, history and background may be, mid-life to later life require a realistic look at your present, and anticipated financial future. 

We aren’t fans of long, long looks into the rear-view mirror, at least in the context of Woulda-Coulda-Shoulda, or regret. However, it is useful to orient yourself in relative terms with fairly universal financial realities. This initial grounding will help you determine what to do next.  Consider this: the National Institute on Retirement Security, a non-profit research center, reports that women are 80 per cent more likely than men to be impoverished at age 65 and older. Women age 75 to 79 are three times more likely.

Let’s begin with looking back at your financial moves in your 40s. If you bought a home when you were young, and paid it off as you retired, your net worth will be equivalent to at least the value of your home. This will make affording your retirement lifestyle much easier. Combining a generous 401(k) with a paid-off house will generally assure you of a comfortable retirement. And, if you’ve owned more than one property, real estate will likely prove an excellent source of passive income. 

Ideally in your 40s, you began to make the shift from capital accumulation to capital protection, with the goal being to shield yourself from illness, or just a bear market. Your 40s are the time to write a will, create a revocable living trust (better than a will, especially if you have children), invest in life insurance and set up a 529 plan – (tax-advantaged educational savings, typically established by parents and grandparents for a child who is an account beneficiary) if you haven’t already. It’s also to your advantage to free yourself from student loan debt and revolving consumer (credit card, home equity) credit, by retirement age.

Moving on from your 40s, where are you today? For most retirees, shelter and healthcare costs are the two main expenses. Here are some quick, retirement-age benchmarks to assess your financial health throughout your 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond.

Here’s an after-tax investment account guide to consider:

The bottom line for your 50s:

A good rule of thumb is to have saved 25X what you plan to spend each year in retirement, or 8X to 15X your current salary. Your 50s are the time to decide how long you’ll work, and thus what your Social Security benefits will be, which are key factors in how much you need to save in order to comfortably retire.

Social Security calculation to help with your financial goals by age

Expert opinions vary about when to file. And individual circumstances do factor into the decision. If you’re in good health, hang in there until 70 (unless your advisor gives you a good reason to do otherwise). If your health is an issue, do what you have to do. However, it’s a fact that if you wait until you turn 70 to collect, your Social Security benefit will be almost double.

The bottom line for your 60s:

Ideally, you have saved 10X to 25X your current salary, depending on spending goals and other income sources. Financial experts state that ideally, your net worth should now be at least 25X your annual expenses, or 20X your average annual gross income. Reaching these benchmarks is your key to financial freedom.

As you head into retirement, make sure you understand the 4% safe withdrawal rate for retirement spending. The rule states that historically in the U.S., with a 50% bond investment and a 50% stock investment, you could afford to spend 4% of your investments a year and not run out of money for 30 years. This is a conservative approach, but it does give a good starting point on how much you can spend in retirement.

The bottom line for your 70s:

It’s never too late to make good financial decisions that will make your present living arrangement more comfortable and secure, and may also create a legacy for loved ones and the community and culture at large. The most important caveat is this: make your decisions upon solid data regarding your own specific financial picture, versus on something you heard from somebody else.  Do not base your decisions on someone else’s apparent situation, since it’s unlikely that you know every nuance of their finances. Someone driving a new Mercedes isn’t necessarily, absolutely “doing better” than you are. Appearances may be deceiving, so don’t come to conclusions based upon how someone else lives or spends. 


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