Mid-Life Financial Planning Doesn’t Have to Be a Crisis: A Guide to Help See You Through 

Mid-Life Financial Planning Doesn’t Have to Be a Crisis: A Guide to Help See You Through 

Your mid-30s to early-50s are a unique time. Not only are you working to reach your peak, but you also may have rising financial responsibilities to manage. With mortgages, full-time jobs and kids who still need you (even if they think they don’t)… It’s easy to go through the motions day in and day out without any plan or set goals. Or maybe, you are so hyper-focused on a specific goal that you lose track of everything else on your plate. 

This position we find ourselves in can make the years pass by in what seems like an instant, which is why this is such an important time to evaluate your spending actions carefully and ensure you are prepared for future financial independence. Sometimes, it might feel a little tricky to balance your sanity with your financial goals. 

If you’re waking up one day and looking in the mirror feeling a little unprepared, don’t worry. It’s totally normal to feel overwhelmed and a little stressed out when you start to list out all your financial responsibilities and the goals that might feel at odds with them. Remain calm and remember: 

You can only control what happens in the future, not the past. There are plenty of smart money moves to make in your 30s to 50s to set you up for success as you navigate your financial future. Here are some of our best tips to help get you on track. 

What is financial complexity? 

We’ve talked a little bit about financial complexity, but what does that mean? Financial complexity refers to the intricate and interwoven nature of financial decisions and responsibilities that arise during midlife years. This could be income fluctuations, changing family dynamics, retirement planning, and competing financial priorities (yes, we’re talking about that cherry red ‘69 Corvette you’ve been admiring). 

During this time, we tend to go on autopilot. You’re going to work, rushing to achieve your financial goals, and possibly caring for kids and elderly parents. More often than not, this is also when you start to realize you’re not quite there financially. Maybe you have overlooked some key hurdles, or time just simply snuck up on you. 

We spend our young adult years with our eyes on the prize, but after that, it all seems to be a blur of climbing the ladder and maintenance. Don’t be surprised if you suddenly feel unprepared for retirement, or have allowed your spending to get out of control when you got a pay raise or are more comfortable in your position. Your priorities could have changed overnight and you now have greater caregiving and financial responsibilities that you haven’t quite factored in. Whatever it is, be assured it is a struggle almost everyone faces. Life happens so quickly and hardly waits for us to pivot and catch up. 

It’s perfectly normal to feel challenged during this period! If you feel overwhelmed, don’t forget that financial advisors can develop customized strategies based on your specific circumstances, goals, and risk tolerance. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help

Navigating mid-career financial challenges with confidence 

Understanding how to plan for life’s biggest changes may be one of the most challenging hurdles for many people. But complex doesn’t necessarily mean complicated. Let’s explore some practical tips to navigate mid-career and midlife financial challenges. 

1. Re-examine how you use debt 

In today’s economic structure, it’s near impossible to avoid borrowing money. In fact, having some kind of debt, or debt history, can be vital for certain milestones such as getting approved for a mortgage or even buying a new car. It shows lenders that you are a responsible candidate and builds a credit profile to aid in your borrowing credibility. The key is to be strategic and not let debt quietly snowball into a mountain. Knowing the differences between the types of debt you carry and how they affect your credit, how to save money on interest, and how to avoid holding a balance while still maintaining your credit history are vital. 

What are the steps you can take TODAY?: 

  • Interest rates are up – know your interest rates on any & all loans! 
  • Focus on paying down “revolving credit” such as credit cards 
  • Avoid carrying balances on your credit cards month to month… 
  • …if you can’t – at least pay more than the minimum amount required 
  • Have no more than two personal credit cards (hide the rest of ‘em) 
  • FREEZE your credit for fraud protection & to make you think twice about your next loan 

Playing the balancing act can be tricky and it’s not something most of us have been taught. If you feel a little lost, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help! Remember, it’s best not to use the option of borrowing money just because you can. Your 75 year-old self will be thanking you for not spending beyond your means. 

2. Revisit Your Investment Strategy 

Investing can be intimidating, especially when we’ve experienced the market volatility for stocks and bonds we have in the last few years. It’s never a bad time to look over your portfolio and ask yourself – “Hey – what investments do I own anyways?”. Taking time to actually craft an investment philosophy can be a great way to keep you grounded as your personal life and the world around us go through constant change.

For example, if you have a 401(k) plan through your employer and they offer a match, you could plan to save at least enough to max that contribution – and consider raising that periodically as you get more comfortable with saving. 

Aside from focusing on padding up your retirement contributions, think about how you are investing outside the workplace. Do you have an old brokerage account with 5 random stocks…and maybe mad at a couple of those stocks for not behaving the way you expected? What is your strategy for money that builds up in your savings account over years? Either way, investing can be daunting – if you feel nervous and need advice, you’re not alone. 

3. Try the Bucketing System 

We just hit on having an investment philosophy. Not sure what to even start with that? Consider the good old Arsenal Financial Bucketing System! What is it? 

In short, the Bucketing System is a method of allocating funds based on short, medium, and long term goals. The first step is to evaluate your specific goals for the next 0-18 months, 18 months to 5 years, and 5 years and beyond. This will allow you to align the timeframe of 

your investment with the timeframe of your goal. This process better determines where to place your money and how much risk is acceptable. We all love a good mattress stash or high cupboard coffee can, but that’s not always the most advantageous choice. While savings rates are now higher and helpful for short term goals, cash may not give you the return you might be seeking for a longer term investment like retirement savings. 

If you find yourself wanting to explore a bucket system that best fits your lifestyle and goals, reach out to your team to go over your financial future. 

Key takeaways 

Navigating the financial challenges of mid-life requires careful consideration and proactive planning, and most of all, a clear head and patience. This pivotal phase of your life comes with a unique set of complexities, including multiple financial goals, retirement planning, changing family dynamics, and increasing responsibilities. 

However, by embracing these challenges and taking a proactive approach, you can unlock a host of benefits that may lead to financial security and more flexibility for the future.

The opinions voiced in this article are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which strategies or investments may be suitable for you, consult the appropriate qualified professional prior to making a decision. All investing involves risk including loss of principal. No strategy assures success or protects against loss.

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