SPF15 tips for people in their 50s

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When you consider protection in your 50s, both from the sun and for your money, the key is application. It is one thing to buy the sunblock, it is quite another to use it effectively. Similarly, the trick with money management in your 50s is how well you understand and apply the concepts as they pertain to your own situation.

Here are our Sound and Practical Finance (SPF) 15 for people in their 50s.

  1. Anyone over 50 is eligible to make catchup contributions to their retirement account, including 401(k), 403(b), SEP and 457. This means you can exceed the $19,500 limit by up to $6,500 annually. This can make a big difference as the interest that extra money earns compounds.
  2. People over 50 also can contribute an extra $1,000 annually to their traditional IRA for a total of $7,000 annually. To the extent that you can afford it, we recommend maximizing these accounts.
  3. Understand the difference between a Roth IRA and a traditional IRA as it relates to your own anticipated tax status when you retire. If you will be in a lower tax bracket when you retire, it probably makes sense to direct most of your retirement savings into a traditional IRA and pay the taxes when you withdraw. If, however, you think you will be heading into a higher tax bracket, you should invest in a Roth IRA, from which you can withdraw at will without paying taxes, when you retire.
  4. If you don’t qualify to contribute to a Roth IRA (due to income limits) and your employer offers this option, you can look into a Roth 401(k), which has no income limits. Consider splitting your contributions between Roth and traditional accounts to retain a portion of the current-year tax break.
  5. Begin looking at ways to trim your budget so you can direct more money into retirement accounts now and spend less on day-to-day expenses in the future.
  6. Work hard to eliminate car loans and credit card debt.
  7. If you purchase a condo in a different state and plan to establish residency there, make sure you understand the tax laws.
  8. Similarly, make sure you know whether any Long-Term Care policy you’ve purchased is partnership qualified in the state where you intend to live when you retire. Not all policies travel with you.
  9. Sit down with a financial advisor to discuss your retirement goals and to make sure you’re on track to achieve them.
  10. While you are there, discuss the allocation of your portfolio and make sure you are diversified appropriately for your risk tolerance.
  11. If you are married, sit down together and review your financial documents. Make sure each spouse understands where accounts are located and how to access them.
  12. If one spouse has no income from employment, consider directing some of the income from the working spouse to fund a traditional or Roth IRA through a spousal IRA.
  13. Analyze your mortgage and decide whether you want to pay it off now.
  14. Save as much as you can outside your retirement accounts as well.
  15. Now is the sweet spot for Long Term Care insurance, when you are healthy enough to secure a policy at a lower rate and you can purchase a group policy through your employer.