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Planning your financial future

Money management tips and saving money in your 40s

Finances in your 40s are a balancing act — building your retirement, saving for college, enjoying what you've earned. Here's a checklist to help.

During your 40s, you will probably face some major financial decisions, like how to save for retirement and fund college tuition. Below are some financial tips and ideas to help you make the most of this decade.

Personal financial planning fundamentals

Update your budget

Planning for retirement in your 40s is becoming a higher priority, so take a new look at your monthly budget. Identify any frivolous or non-essential expenses. Does it make sense to redirect the money spent on those items toward your savings goals?

Bolster your credit score

Did you know that not using an open credit card can lower your credit score? Use credit cards strategically, striving to pay off the balances each month. If your debt to income ratio is high, work to reduce it. You are entitled to a free credit report each year from each of the three reporting agencies. Go to to request your reports.

How to manage money better in this decade

Build a relationship with a financial professional

If you don't have an established relationship with a financial professional, now is the time to make it a priority. You have many decisions to make in the next few years, and most of them have long-term implications. Find a financial professional who can guide and advise you.

Get your paperwork in order

If you haven't already done so, get your estate planning paperwork in order by establishing a power of attorney, a will, and health directives. This is particularly important if you have children.

Maximize your retirement savings

Retirement may only be 20 to 25 years away. Consider contributing the maximum amount allowable to any retirement plans you have available. Also, consider opening an IRA if you are eligible. Strive to have two to three times your annual income saved for retirement during this decade.

Pay off big debts

If you have financed vehicles or recreational equipment, try to pay these loans off so you have more to invest in your long-term financial goals.

Maintain a stable emergency fund

As your income and expenses increase, so should your emergency fund. Maintain an emergency account with three to six times your monthly income, if possible.

Implement a financial strategy that supports your “big picture”

Understanding your big picture goals, and knowing how every financial choice supports those goals is imperative at this life stage. For example, if you're trying to decide between saving for college or retirement, talk to a financial professional. While every situation is different, many financial experts advise that retirement savings should be the top priority because you can't get financial aid for retirement! By working with a financial professional, you can deploy a financial strategy that supports your long-term plan.

Extra money management for this decade

Teach your children

Preparing your children for adulthood includes teaching them the value of financial responsibility. Share the financial lessons you have learned and take every opportunity to teach them about smart money management.

Help your parents plan ahead

Talk to your parents about their preparations and estate planning. Have they planned for long-term care expenses? Do they have a power of attorney, wills, and health directives? Have they thought about their final arrangements? A good way to start the conversation is by sharing the steps you're taking to prepare for your future.

Money saving tips for any age

Strive to save 30% or more of your income

Pay yourself first. Aim to save 10% for retirement, 10% for your emergency fund, and 10% for large purchases or vacations.

Start building an emergency fund

Strive to save three to six times your monthly income.

Be mindful of your housing to income ratio

Try to limit your housing expense to no more than 28% of your gross household income.

Watch your debt to income ratio

Try to limit your total debt (mortgage, car loan, credit cards, student loans) to 36% of your gross household income.

Keep your credit card balance to limit ratio under control

To keep your credit score as high as possible, try to keep your balances as low as possible.



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All Learning Center articles are general summaries that can be used when considering your financial future at various life stages. The information presented is for educational purposes and is meant to supplement other information specific to your situation. It is not intended as investment advice and does not necessarily represent the opinion of Protective or its subsidiaries.

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