Once you enter your 50s, retirement — which seemed like it was ages away for so long — suddenly feels like it is around the corner. How do you know if you are on track to meet the challenges of this time of life?
Whether you plan to retire early or want to keep working for many years to come, your 50s are a good time to take stock of how well you are preparing for retirement.
Following are some signs that you have planned well in your 50s and are headed for a solid retirement.
You have a retirement date in mind
Traditionally, many people have dreamed of retiring at 65, or even as young as 62. Others have planned to work until as late as 70 and beyond.
The truth is that there is no one standard retirement age that is right for everyone. Some people who have a lot of money saved might want to retire as soon as possible. Others who are active and love their career might plan to work as long as possible.
Think about when you want to retire, and then start crafting a plan that will get you there. Once you have an ideal retirement date in mind, start calculating how much money you need to reach your deadline.
You have 6 times your annual income saved for retirement
Along with your retirement date, the precise amount of cash you need before you can stop working depends on your retirement needs and aspirations.
While there is no precise dollar figure that makes sense for everyone, some financial experts recommend having six times your current income saved by age 50.
Again, this is not an exact rule, but you can use this recommendation as a yardstick that will give you insight into where you stand on the road to retirement.
You max out your 401(k) contributions each year
Maxing out your 401(k) or other retirement savings account contributions each year is a great way to build savings for retirement.
For 2023, you can contribute up to $22,500 in a 401(k) plan. If you are 50 or older, you can contribute an extra $7,500 in catch-up contributions.
You get your employer’s contribution match
If your employer offers to match your 401(k) contributions up to a certain limit, it can be wise to try to contribute at least that much to your account.
Not sure if your employer matches retirement fund contributions? Your human resources department can let you know so you can adjust your contributions accordingly.
You take advantage of catch-up contributions
Another solid way to make sure you’re saving enough for retirement is to take advantage of catch-up contributions if you are 50 or older.
As we mentioned earlier, during 2023, the IRS lets you contribute an additional $7,500 as long as you turn 50 at some point this year.
You have a written plan for retiring on time
A written retirement plan should include information such as when you’re planning to retire, how much money you need to have saved by then, and how close you are to meet that goal.
It should include all your sources of post-retirement income, including your projected Social Security benefits.
You can always adjust your plan as circumstances change. If you haven’t drawn up a plan yet, your 50s are a great time to do so.
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You’ve met with a financial advisor to see if your retirement plans are on track
If you want to grow your wealth, meeting with a financial advisor can be a wise move.
A good financial professional can review the details of your retirement plan and provide advice that might help keep you on track to meet retirement goals.
You’ve already set up an online Social Security account
You don’t have to wait until retirement to set up an online Social Security account. In fact, the earlier you set one up, the better.
The Social Security Administration’s website lets you establish an account long before retirement. With this account, you can see estimates of how much you might receive in benefits when you finally retire.
You’ve paid down your debts as much as possible
You don’t have to be entirely debt-free to be on track for retirement. Some debts, like a mortgage payment, might be with you even after you retire.
But the fewer debts you have — both now and in retirement — the better. If you’ve paid off any student loan debts and aren’t living with too much credit card debt, that’s a good sign you’ll be able to retire on time.
So, make 2023 the year you crush any remaining debts.
You’ve thought about — and possibly started exploring — where you want to live in retirement
Some people plan to stay in their current home throughout retirement. Others have been waiting to retire before moving to their dream destination.
Your 50s are the perfect time to decide which category you fall under. If it is the latter, start scouting potential locations for your future home. Doing so will help you accurately calculate how much money you need to save before you move.
You’ve compared your long-term care insurance options
Medicare does not cover long-term care, so your 50s are a good time to start thinking about what you will do if you need this level of care at some point in the future.
Some people opt to purchase long-term care insurance. Others plan to self-finance long-term care should they need it. Whatever route you decide to take, your 50s are the time to start drawing the map that will get you there.
You already have a solid estate plan
Some feel that crafting an estate plan is a bit morbid. But doing so is just using good financial sense.
The earlier you decide how you want to distribute your assets, the less you’ll have to worry about it down the road. If you’ve already got a plan, you’re doing great. If not, put estate planning on your to-do list.
You’ve considered leaving a legacy to loved ones or a charity
As you enter retirement, you might start thinking about how you plan to leave a legacy.
Will you try to provide for family members and others who survive you? Or do you have a special cause that you would like your estate to support?
Whatever you decide, an estate planner can help you figure out exactly how to set aside your funds. Before you do so, take the time to thoroughly research your preferred charities and decide if you want to leave them a specific lump sum or a percentage of your remaining funds.
Have you already done everything on our list? Congratulations: You’re likely financially healthy in your 50s. Keep doing what you’re doing, and you will be on the right path to reach your retirement goals.
If you aren’t quite where you need to be, try not to worry. Simply get to work boosting your bank account.
It might take some time and effort, but following these steps can help you enter your 60s on a high financial note.