10 Important Money Goals You Should Reach in Your 40s

Reaching age 40 is a big milestone. You’ve carved out a career, started a family, and might have even purchased your first home. For the most part, life is good and comfortable. However, one area you shouldn’t neglect at this time in your life is your financial health. It’s not a good idea to get too comfortable when it comes to your personal finances. Here are 10 goals you should work on by the time you reach your 40s.

1. Have a financial plan

Married couple, boring, family
This is 40, and it’s time to get your financial life together. | Universal Pictures

Before you can successfully reach any financial goal, you need to have a plan. If you haven’t created a clear financial plan, now is the time to devise one. Define your financial goals, and take steps toward achieving them. You can do this by making sure your plan includes short-, mid-, and long-term financial goals. However, make sure your goals are realistic, so you can increase your chances of sticking to your plan.
Also, consider working with a certified financial planner. They can help you create a plan that works best for you. Roughly 7 in 10 consumers said they have sought help from a certified financial planner, according to Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards research. Some of the top reasons for seeking help are retirement and savings.
Next: Time to engage, but not that kind of engagement

2. Engage in career development

Woman working on laptop outside the building
Take advantage of tools that will help you learn a new skill. | iStock.com/bowie15

At this point, you’re likely settled in your career, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing left to learn. Take advantage of seminars, continuing-education programs, and anything else you can find that will help you learn a new skill. Your newfound skills could help you negotiate a higher salary or snag a great new job. When you invest in your career development, you invest in your financial future and increase your earning potential. Learning something new can also slow down the cognitive aging process, according to Harvard research. So do your wallet and brain a favor, and pick up a new skill.
Next: Take advantage of your employer.

3. Take advantage of employee benefits

man taking a check
Taking advantage of perks could improve your quality of life and keep more cash in your wallet. | iStock.com/AndreyPopov

You might not have paid much attention to your benefits package in your 20s and 30s, but taking advantage of perks could improve your quality of life and keep more cash in your wallet. If you’re not sure about all the benefits your employer offers, ask your human resources manager to provide you with a rundown. You might be surprised to discover benefits, such as down-payment assistance, retiree health plans, or tuition reimbursement.
Next: Free your future self.

4. Pay down debt

piggy bank with dollars
It will be important to get a handle on debt. | iStock.com

Paying down debt can become more difficult as you get older. As the years go by and your life becomes increasingly complex, more goals compete for your attention and resources. However, it will be important to get a handle on debt now. Your retirement is getting closer, and carrying a large amount of high-interest debt could delay your exit from the workforce. If tackling debt on your own has become a problem, considering working with a certified credit counselor. They can develop a plan and help you get back on track with your finances.
Next: Don’t forget to enjoy life.

5. Work on your bucket list

man and woman crossing the stream
Draft a bucket list, and work on making those events happen. | iStock.com/jacoblund

What good is money in the bank if you haven’t lived a fulfilling life? Set aside money to enjoy your life now. Draft a bucket list, and work on making those events happen. Living a joy-filled life will attract the right people to you, help you feel happier, and increase your productivity. When you do things you love, it will be nearly impossible not to exude a positive attitude.
Research shows happy employees are more successful and productive. And who knows? Injecting a bit of joy into your life could result in meeting a new mentor, expanding your social and career network, or even working at a better job.
Next: Balance retirement and college savings.

6. Make a decision about college savings

Smiling student holding a book in library
Look for alternate ways to save for college. | iStock.com

Remember no plan is set in stone. If you’ve been setting aside a certain amount for your children’s college education, but your current savings plan is cutting into retirement savings, it’s time to make some adjustments. Look for alternative ways to save for college, so you don’t put your retirement in jeopardy.
Explain the change in plans to your children, and work together to start sending out scholarship applications and thinking of creative ways to fund their education. Perhaps they can take on a part-time job or finance part of their education with a student loan.
You could also encourage your children to take advantage of programs in some cities where tuition is reduced or even completely free. Once such state that recently offered this perk is the City University of New York education system.
Next: Don’t forget to breathe a little.

7. Aim for work-life balance

man working on the beach
It’s hard to be financially secure if you’re not well emotionally and physically. | iStock.com

Your financial health and your quality of life are connected. It’s hard to be financially secure if you’re not well emotionally and physically. Just as being happy can contribute to productivity, as can achieving work-life balance. If you work all the time without a sufficient break, you’ll burn out and be a lot less effective at work. Burnout means more mistakes and could lead to being reprimanded or fired. Protect your financial future by getting enough rest, eating a balanced diet, and taking vacations.
Next: Consider life insurance.

8. Reassess life insurance needs

Take time to make sure your loved ones are taken care of financially before you die. | iStock.com

You’re going to die one day. That means you should take time to make sure your loved ones are taken care of financially before you die. You can start by using an online life insurance calculator to help you determine whether you have the right amount of insurance.
One tool to try is the life insurance calculator on Life Happens. You’ll be asked to provide information, such as your outstanding debts, the number of children who will require college financing, and any additional financial obligations.
Next: Revisit that retirement plan.

9. Reassess your retirement plan

retirement planning
Don’t set it and forget it. | iStock.com/jerry2313

Don’t take a “set it and forget it” approach to your retirement. Depending on life events, your finances could be significantly impacted. For example, getting married could mean more money coming into your household due to a second income. Or perhaps you got a new job and received a significant raise, which you could direct into your retirement savings account. On the other hand, a loved one could have died or you welcomed a new baby into your family, resulting in less cash flow.
Take time to reassess your investment risk tolerance. When you first joined the workforce, you might have had a higher risk tolerance when it came to investing. But now as you get older, you might be a more conservative investor. Also, take time to see whether your asset allocation is still appropriate.
Next: Is your will updated?

10. Map out your estate plan

smiling couple with tablet computer on sofa
If you don’t decide who will inherit your belongings when you die, the state will decide for you. | iStock.com/warrengoldswain

One of the most important items you need to have in your estate plan is a will. If you don’t decide who will inherit your belongings when you die, the state will decide for you. Other documents you’ll want to include are a power of attorney for finances and a power of attorney for health care. These are legal documents that designate someone who will take care of your finances or make health care decisions if you become seriously ill.
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