Turning 50: Critical Retirement Planning Steps

Your 50s will bring a lot of big life milestones. You’ll get senior discounts on coffee and movie tickets. You may become a grandparent, or see some of your kids head off to college or to life on their own. You may hit a new career peak, and you may even pay off your mortgage. Who knows? Everyone’s life is different, and goals and priorities can vary.

With that said, there’s one thing about turning 50 that’s pretty much the same across the board: You’ll start thinking, more and more, about retirement. Once you hit 50, retirement actually starts to feel like a real thing, an attainable goal. Thinking about retirement may bring with it a flush of optimism, but it may also bring some anxieties—especially if you’re unsure of whether you’re on the right track, in terms of your financial planning.

The best thing to do, naturally, is to meet with your financial advisor. Go over your retirement savings and ask for a realistic appraisal of your retirement options. This will either give you confidence in your current plan, or open the door for some possible tweaks and changes to that plan.

Here are a few more retirement planning matters to attend to, once the big 5-0 rolls around:

Unless you plan on retiring tomorrow, you should stay engaged with your job and your professional development. Keep fit, continue networking, and learn new skills whenever you can. No matter how great your retirement portfolio, your biggest asset will always be your ability to earn a paycheck—so make sure to optimize that, right up until the day you retire.

Talk to your advisor about the benefits of purchasing disability insurance. In some cases, it may be advantageous to purchase this instead of re-upping on your life insurance, especially if your employer provides you with a cheap disability insurance option.

Remember that your retirement savings account—whether it’s an IRA or a 401(k)—will allow for “catchup” contributions once you hit 50. This is something to discuss with your advisor, as it may or may not be necessary.

Talk to your financial advisor about risk tolerance, as well. If you’re going to work until you’re 65, there is an argument to be made for maintaining more equity exposure. If you’re going to retire sooner, though, you may want to move into more conservative investments. This is a highly individual choice, and one to discuss in detail with your advisor.

More than anything else, though, we will emphasize the importance of speaking with your advisor about how “retirement ready” you truly are. Frankly, not all fiftysomethings have a good sense of where they stand, retirement-wise. Get your head in the game and your facts straight by meeting with your financial advisor right away!