By Monica Eckberg –
Are you on the right financial track to make a strong finish?
For many 50-something women, retirement is right around the corner. While there’s plenty of excitement to look forward to in the years ahead (More time with family! That vacation to Europe! Finally learning to paint!), retirement also raises important financial considerations.
So, how can you tell if you’re on the right track financially to actually enjoy your retirement? You’ve worked hard to get where you are, and retirement years should be the payoff. Here are five financial habits you can begin mastering today to help you rock retirement.
Yes, we know this one’s obvious, but it’s also one of the most important – and hardest – habits to master. Be realistic about your debts (mortgage payments, credit card bills, car loans, medical expenses) and prioritize what needs to get paid first.
Make a list of your debts, including your monthly payments and interest rates. Which debts have the highest interest rates? How much time do you have to pay these loans off? If your goal is to retire debt-free, base your payoff plans on the amount of time you have left before you retire.
Eliminating debts with the highest interest rates first will save the most money in the long run. And, by ramping up debt repayment, you’ll significantly reduce financial stress by the time retirement rolls around.
Investing isn’t just for your 20s, 30s and 40s. In fact, your 50s can be a great time to invest, potentially more aggressively because you’re more established. However, it’s important to make sure your retirement portfolio aligns with your risk tolerance and overall financial objectives.
Evaluate your retirement goals such as buying a second home, traveling or dedicating more resources to a favorite cause. Fifty can be a great time to re-evaluate your priorities and adjust what you’re working toward. When you know your goals, you and your financial advisor can create a plan that is focused on giving you the freedom to take full advantage of all retirement has to offer.
Musical superstar, John Lennon, once said, “Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.” The last thing you want in the home stretch of your career is to have your hard work derailed by something unexpected, like an illness or injury. If you haven’t already, consider how insurance products such as disability insurance fit within your financial plan. Planning for the unpredictable can help ensure your financial plan stays on track during recovery.
The thought of estate planning can be overwhelming, but it also shouldn’t be put off. The earlier you begin making these important decisions – creating a will or living trust, determining power of attorney, establishing a health directive – the more peace of mind you’ll have in knowing that you are leaving the legacy you want. Consider how – or if – products like life insurance can help. In addition to the primary benefit (the death benefit), there can be living benefits that could be part of your legacy planning. A financial professional can help you learn more.
Eighty-five percent of Americans report feeling financial anxiety. But, if you have questions, you don’t have to go it alone. Consider meeting with a financial professional – it’s never too late! Even if you think you have a rock-solid plan for retiring in style, it doesn’t hurt to get an advisor’s input.
Financial professionals are trained to take your personal goals and plans into account when developing a strategy that’s right for you. A good advisor will ask you the right questions, hold you accountable, and help to determine if you’re making the most strategically sound decisions when it comes to your spending, saving and investment strategies in these pivotal years.
Practicing these financial habits, women in their 50s can feel more confident heading into retirement and enjoying the best that’s yet to come.
Monica Eckberg is a Wealth Management Advisor with Northwestern Mutual. She started as a college intern in 1999 and has built a successful wealth management practice over the past 18 years. Monica believes that the thrill of life is found in living into our own potential. She has made it her mission to help successfully-minded individuals create and take action on a financial plan, providing her clients with the ability to align where they are today with where they want to be in the future.
Monica was recognized for the Finance & Commerce Top Women in Finance for 2016 & 2013 and is part of the Circle of Excellence. She has also been a repeat recipient of many prestigious awards over the course of her career including: Master Achievement Award, Financial Security Award (Top 3), Forum, Life Impact Award, Million Dollar Round Table, and NAIFA Quality Award. Monica is married to the love of her life, Darren. They have two boys, Cullen and Kieran, and a darling puppy, Priya.
Article prepared by Northwestern Mutual with the cooperation of Monica Eckberg, CLU®,
ChFC®. Monica Eckberg is a Wealth Management Advisor with Northwestern Mutual, the marketing name for The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company (NM), Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and its subsidiaries.