For some, the realization that financial responsibility is important doesn’t come until mid-life. You wake up one day to find that you are in your forties and you have no idea where you are going. It’s time to get started.
For others, a midlife calamity can completely reset the financial game. Problems like divorce, career failure, business failure, or bankruptcy can put you in a position where you will assume a financially sound plan in midlife.
The most important thing is to do never dwell in the past. If you think about what could have been, you cannot build a financial future. Keep an eye on the present because this is where you can control your behavior and the future because the future is what you can actually change.
Here are the top financial steps to take when starting over financially in midlife.
Live slim but smart
In terms of daily expenses, you need to live lean but smart. Spend time really thinking about which expenses are important to you and which are not, and reduce the expenses that are not important to the point.
A great way to do this is to go through your bank and credit card statements for the past few months. For each issue, ask yourself honestly whether this purchase was really worth it. Do you feel like it has created lasting value? If you can’t even remember what the purchase was, or if you can hardly remember, or if you don’t experience positive feelings, consider reducing this in the future.
Why is that so important? The less you spend, the more of your paycheck you will have to help stabilize your financial future. With each passing month and year, stabilizing your future becomes more and more important as there is a day in the future that you cannot work or have no desire to work and when that day arrives. You’ll want the resources to get out of the job.
For many people in this situation, a good job cannot be taken for granted. You may switch careers or rejoin the workforce after a long hiatus.
When you rejoin the workforce, you need to make finding work and getting started a high priority. If you have 40 or 50 years until retirement, it may make sense to go for a better gig. When you have half as much time on the clock, finding a job is much more urgent.
While you may not have youth on your side, you do have life experience. They have years of experience in dealing with people, building relationships and getting things done. You can rely on it.
Most of the success with most entry-level positions is just showing up and getting the job done Well with as little effort as possible. Take care and be reliable, and you will be able to make elevations and promotions, and most middle-aged people already have a lot of experience in these matters.
If you need to embark on a new career path, find an entry-level job with a lot of promotion and increase the potential. Take every opportunity you get and run with it.
Take control of your debt
Starting your financial life in midlife is like starting a game in the middle. Every second counts as you have reason to make up. Nowhere is this more true than with debt. The longer you let in debt, even with minimum payments, the more you will pay in the long run and the more years you will have to deal with payments. The truth is, if you are starting your financial life over, you don’t to have as many years as before. You have to face it now.
This is even more important with high-yield debt. You need to settle double-digit interest debts quickly and efficiently because high-interest debt grows quickly and persists for a very long time, even with minimal payments.
What is the plan? Make minimum payments on all of your debts each month, but make the largest possible additional payment on your debt with the highest interest rates as long as these debts are above 10% annual interest. Repeat this until all of your high yield debt has been paid off. This is a simple debt settlement plan.
Build an emergency fund
When a younger person is experiencing a financial emergency, it can be difficult to overcome, but they have time. If an emergency causes them to go into debt, they have many years to deal with it. For people starting over in midlife, time is of the essence. You cannot afford to go into debt.
The most effective way to avoid high-yield debt is through an emergency fund, which is just a pool of cash reserved for emergencies. The easiest way is to open a savings account with a new bank and then set up an automatic small weekly transfer from your checking account. Then completely forget about that savings account until an emergency arises. At this point, tap the savings to take care of it. You can find a detailed guide to emergency funds here if you need more information.
Remember, the main benefit of having an emergency fund is that you don’t run into high-yield debt so the credit card plan is not a good one. This only creates high interest debt that you then have to pay off, and there are many emergencies that a credit card cannot handle anyway.
Save for retirement, but aim a little later
Many retirement leaders assume that you will retire at age 65. If you are starting over in midlife, then you should really push that age back to 70 for some reasons. First, you have five years left to make savings. Second, you have five years left for compound interest to work in your favor. Third, it maximizes your social security and other retirement benefits. Plus, if you’re in midlife and don’t have a lot of retirement savings, you need to save quantity to retire on time every year.
At 40, you have 30 years before you turn 70. You still have many years to invest aggressively without risking the money you have to make a living on. A good, simple rule is to be very careful with the money you will have to live on for the next 10 years and be very aggressive with other savings. By the age of 40, you haven’t gotten to a point where you need some of that money for 20 years. So you can be very aggressive with your investments up to the age of 60. That’s many years for growth.
If you’re unsure how to get started with retirement savings, our guide to retirement can help. In short, if your workplace offers a retirement plan, jump on them, especially if they match your contributions. You should register and contribute as much as you can. If your workplace doesn’t offer a retirement plan, consider enrolling for a Roth IRA if you have a relatively low income, or a traditional IRA if you have a higher income and are contributing directly from your checking account.
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