Reaching the age of 40, like any other decade you have been through, will pose unique financial opportunities and challenges. And, as you may have realised by now, none of these surprises can ever be mastered before they happen. Things are quite different when you were much younger – everything seemed to be possible and you felt like the world was easy to conquer. But as you get hired on your first job, start renting, get married, have children, and so on, life teaches you that managing money is not exactly as easy as saving a fixed percentage of your salary and letting it grow in the bank.
At this age, a lot of people become optimistic. As the age-old saying goes (yes, pun intended on that one): Life begins at 40. And wouldn’t it be great if we can add something like “and debt ends” to this phrase? Reaching your third decade of adulting, it would be ideal if you can finally manage your finances better so you can enjoy this stage in your life more, don’t you agree? This is the best time to consider taking a few bold steps that would help you become happier and better off at this age.
Start Saving for College
No, we’re not talking about your college loan – which should be fully paid by now. This time, you will need to begin saving for your child or children’s college, if you have not started doing so. Inevitably, the cost of college will continue to go up, and it is best to start building up their college fund the earliest possible time. It never hurts to plan and save ahead. In fact, it is ideal to save for your child’s college education so you avoid the pressure and stress that would come once they start going to college.
A financial firm, Fidelity Investments, suggests a “2k Rule” to save for your child’s college tuition. This savings strategy involves multiplying your child’s age by $2,000 to determine the amount you need to save so you can cover about half the average cost of studying in a public university for someone who would take a four-year course.
For instance, if your child is five years old, the amount that you would need to save for is $10,000. This means that you will need to save $2,000 over the course of five years so you can be confident that you will be able to afford to send your child to an in-state public university. Now, this strategy can only be effective when you use a 529 plan.
Having a tax-advantaged, state-sponsored 529 plan can help optimize your child’s college savings. Investment earnings in this plan are exempt from federal capital gains tax. When used for qualified education-related expenditures of the designated beneficiary, a 529 plan will also not be taxed by the state government. Such expenses would cover tuition, fees, books, and room and board.
Earn More From Passive Income
At forty, you probably feel burnt out and dissatisfied with your career. Based on a research conducted by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in the UK, people aged 40 to 59 have the lowest levels of life satisfaction. This could be caused by the combined pressures from one’s career and financial obligations, both of which usually peak during this stage in a person’s life.
While it is true that you can never be too old to switch careers and start doing something new or finally pursue a job that you really love, the financial repercussions could be too daunting to even consider quitting your job. Good thing is, you do not necessarily have to quit your current job to earn more or follow your passion. Thanks to the internet and all the mobile gadgets we have today, it is now easier to start doing what really interests you on the side and even earn passive income from it.
Instead of quitting your day job, you can spend weekends doing the hobbies you love to do – and sometimes start getting paid for doing so. Aside from improving your cash flow, spending time pursuing your hobbies is also good for your mental health, allowing you to de-stress and also giving you that much needed break that could boost your creativity and your ability to take on more challenging tasks.
Think of the things you really love to do. It could be photography, watercolour painting, pottery, knitting, building websites, or creating graphic design. The list is limitless. You can choose as many hobbies that you like and find ways to monetize these. For example, if you love creating jewelry, you can use your free time doing this and sell these online by putting them up on e-commerce sites that allow sellers to showcase their items like etsy.com. If you happen to be a gamer, there are various online games that will allow you to play at practically zero cost and win prizes. Do an online search and you will see several online games like casino sites that offer free bets and free spins to players. Depending on your gaming preference, you may want to go for one of these, or even become a beta tester for games in other niches.
Save for That Dream Vacation
Although focusing on financial obligations is very important, there is no reason why you should not start saving for that dream vacation. You have worked so hard for two decades now, and now is the best time to reward yourself. Oftentimes, we think that we need to make practical decisions and put off things that we want to do for ourselves. However, taking a trip is more than just splurging on yourself.
Going on a vacation has a lot of benefits. For one, it makes you a lot happier and helps you appreciate the life you have. It is also a much needed time off that reboots you and gives you a fresh start once you come back to your work and family. The relaxation you experience and the new things that you are exposed to during your trip also helps boost your creativity. And most importantly, you become healthier. The lack of stress and the positive emotions you gain during your vacation affects your health in a very good way.
So, stop telling yourself you will be going on that trip “someday” and start saving for it and plotting a specific date on your calendar to actually go on that trip. If your dream vacation is really impossible to achieve within the year, plan to go on the next best trip while still saving for your dream destination for the next year. Remember, it is always a good thing to invest in your happiness and well-being.
Life is Fabulous at Forty
Reaching the age of forty is such a great stage to rebuild oneself and actually start doing the things that you love. And while it is inevitable to continue providing for our family and deal with financial challenges from time to time, this age has prepared most of us for those difficult moments. We have all been there before, right?
So at this age, it is ideal for you to start balancing practical decisions with choices that would add value to your own life, those that will make you feel happier and more fulfilled. This is the time when we need to begin exploring new things and revisiting things we used to love to do. Being a happier version of yourself will actually benefit not just you but your family and the people you work with as well.
Start writing down a list of the things you would love to start doing this year and commit to fulfil this list. You will see that you will be a much better person one year from now. A year from now, you will be someone that you, your family, friends, and work colleagues would definitely appreciate so much more.