3 Smart Money Moves in Your 50s | American Funds

Creating a Financial Plan


Approaching Retirement:
3 Smart Money Moves in Your 50s

After you turn the big 5-0, you need to get serious about retirement planning. Here are three things to do now to prepare for a brighter future for yourself and your loved ones.

Have you hit the half-century mark yet? Considering that the average American retires at age 63, you could be closing in on that next chapter.1 “It’s the next big thing on the horizon,” says Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate.com.

Here are three suggestions to help you reach your goal of a secure retirement:

1. Determine the Amount You’ll Need in Retirement Savings

Your 50s are the homestretch of your retirement savings journey, so now is the time to assess your progress and determine a savings goal if you haven’t already done so.

Unfortunately, many workers skip this step. Only four in 10 have calculated how much money they will need to live comfortably in retirement, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute. You don't want to hit 60 and discover you haven’t saved enough.

“You want to say, ‘Here’s what my retirement lifestyle will cost, and here’s how much income my financial resources can be expected to generate. How do they match up?’” says Roger Wohlner, a financial advisor and founder of The Chicago Financial Planner blog.

A retirement planning calculator can help. By answering a few basic questions you’ll get a picture of how much money you’re likely to need in retirement to achieve your desired lifestyle and whether you’re on the right path. Additionally, creating a retirement roadmap can illustrate how adjusting your savings plan might help you get closer to your target.

2. Play Catch-up

If you feel you're behind on retirement savings, you’re not alone. In a survey of 700 affluent investors, Investopedia found that 52% believe their retirement savings are inadequate, and many worry about being able to retire on time. There are a number of things you can do, however, to gain some ground.

  • Take advantage of catch-up contributions. If you’re 50 or older, you can contribute an additional $6,000 to a 401(k) on top of the maximum $18,000 allowed for younger workers. You can also invest an extra $1,000 in an IRA in addition to the standard limit of $5,500.
  • Review your investment mix. Based on your time frame and tolerance for risk, you might be able to assemble a growth-oriented portfolio of investments that still provides a measure of stability.
  • Look out for yourself. If you have children in college and your resources are limited, max out your retirement accounts before spending money on tuition payments. “Don’t rob your retirement to pay for college,” says Hans Scheil, a certified financial planner, CEO of Cardinal Retirement Planning, and the author of The Complete Cardinal Guide to Planning for and Living in Retirement.
  • Pay off the house. If your retirement savings plan is on track — and you’ve erased any high-interest debt — consider paying off your mortgage. You might be able to save a considerable amount in interest payments.

3. Start Planning for Long-term Care Needs

Over half of Americans age 65 will need long-term care at some point in their lives.2 Your 50s is a good time to begin preparing for it. If you're thinking of purchasing long-term care insurance, be aware that premiums typically increase as you age. There's also a greater chance of being turned down completely due to health concerns as you get older.

“Even if you don’t buy something now, it’s a good time to start investigating,” adds Hans. “You have options today that you may not have when you’re in your 60s.”


What's next: 3 Smart Money Moves in Your 60s



1"The Average Retirement Age in Every State in 2016." SmartAsset, 2017.

2"Long-Term Services and Supports for Older Americans: Risks and Financing Research Brief." U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2016.


Participants under 50 years of age can contribute a maximum of $18,000 to their 401(k) retirement plans during 2017, while investors age 50 or older can contribute a maximum of $24,000.

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