It’s well known life begins at forty. Doesn’t it?
Last month, our Managing Director, Gretchen, tuned 40! If you’ve spoken to her recently, you’ll know she’s all a-buzz about her travel plans to Japan, home improvements and her new niece or nephew arriving in the summer.
Rightly so – 40 is an exciting decade, full of plans and aspirations. It’s also likely to be a time of optimum earning potential.
What’s more, it’s a crucial decade to take a step back and make sure your finances are on track to meet your goals.
There’ll be some decisions you’ll already have taken in your twenties or thirties, which will have had an impact. You may have bought your own home, for example, or put some savings away in cash, investments or pensions.
If things don’t look quite as rosy as you’d hoped, though, your forties are a good time to take stock, as there’s still time to make adjustments and give your investments time to grow.
Don’t forget, whatever savings you can make now will enable you to pursue your dreams later on.
Here are four key tips for shrewd financial planning at this important time of life.
Just because life may feel comfortable with regular pay rises and bonuses don’t fall into the temptation of spending more than you need. Do you really need that Costa coffee or M&S lunch every day?
Get into the habit of writing down what you spend for a few weeks – you will be surprised how this can be so helpful in showing you where your money’s going. Simple steps like cancelling subscriptions or switching bill providers can make a significant difference.
Historic studies show that investments usually outperform cash savings so any disposable income you can invest will be beneficial. If you can put money aside in a pension you’ll also be taking advantage of the tax relief available. Make sure you use your ISA allowance too for more accessible funds.
Carry out a protection audit
Think about what you would do if the unexpected happened. Your forties are a time of life where you may find yourself part of what’s known as ‘the sandwich generation’ i.e. caring for elderly parents at the same time as looking after young children. This can put extra pressure on you. Make sure you have a good emergency fund in place and can access enough money should the worst happen by ensuring you have enough life and critical illness cover. No one likes paying for insurance, but anyone who has sadly had to make a claim, will tell you it is worth every penny.
Your home will be a fundamental part of your financial planning at this time of life. If you feel you need a larger property, these are likely to be your peak earning years so now is the time to secure the best mortgage you can and find your dream home. On the other hand, if you’re quite happy where you are, it may be a good time to remortgage to get a better deal.
Everyone’s situation is different. You may have children at university or you may still be having to pay for nursery fees (or both!) Whatever your position, make sure you budget accordingly and allow for inflation, especially if you’re paying private school fees. Work out the priorities for your family – the best education now or a house deposit in the future. It’s important not to derail your own life savings for the sake of your children as no one will benefit in the long run.
By doing some sound financial planning now, you’ll have more hope of continuing in the style you want to live, well beyond your forties.