6 Effective Ways To Build Wealth In Your 50s

Your 50s are a significant period in your financial (and personal) life. 

You are “sandwiched” between wealth accumulators and retirees and caring for yourself, your children, and possibly your parents as well. 

Are you thinking about retirement? Sure

But is retirement your only financial focus? Not exactly.

At this stage of your life, no financial decision can be taken lightly. Here are six ways to build wealth in your 50s and put yourself on the path to reach your goals.

First, Know Your Goals

You’ve spent the first part of your life accumulating assets and delaying gratification. Now it’s time to utilize those resources and ensure they’re aligned with your personal goals and values.

Top Questions to Ask Regarding Your Financial Future

  1. When would you like to retire? If you plan to retire early, you’ll likely need to save more aggressively and develop a robust income plan. 
  2. When you retire, how much income do you need to live your life in the way you desire? Will your spending stay the same, or do you anticipate it changing? Consider your lifestyle goals as they will tie to your spending habits. 
  3. What obstacles do you foresee that would prevent you from getting where you want to be? Are you saving enough? Will you have to care for one or both of your parents? Are your children still financially dependent on you?
  4. What types of purchases or activities would you like your accumulated wealth to fund? For example, do you want to boost your travel budget (learn why that can be better than buying a vacation home)? Are there hobbies you would like to explore?

These questions will be different for everyone, but there is one common theme. At this stage of life, you need to define a purpose for your money. Simply saving with no intention will not carry you through to the next phase of your life.

Now that we have discussed the general principles of goal setting, you’re probably wondering about some of the specific strategies for building wealth in your 50s.

Max Out Your Retirement Accounts

You’ve heard this sentiment time and time again, but it’s worth repeating: maximize your retirement accounts each year. Your 50s is perhaps one of the most critical times in your life to do so since you’re likely earning (or will earn) the highest salary in your career—take advantage of it!

For most people in 2021, the maximum annual contribution to their employer’s 401k plan is $19,500. The year you turn 50, that changes. Now, you’re eligible for catch-up contributions. For 401ks (and a few other plans), the catch-up contribution limit is $6,500, bringing your total contributions to $26,000.

A similar concept applies to Traditional and Roth IRAs. Instead of the standard $6,000 limit, you can add $1,000 per year (jumping the limit to $7,000).

Once you turn 55, you can stash away an extra $1,000 to your HSA. Take advantage of this since you can’t actively contribute to an HSA when you enroll in Medicare (typically at 65). 

Catch-up contributions are an excellent benefit for investors in their 50s. Not only can you increase your savings and potentially reduce your current income taxes, but you can access your money sooner. Starting at age 59.5, you can withdraw money from your retirement accounts penalty-free.

Eliminate Debt

Consider debt at this stage of life as an anchor in the sand that is holding you down. Easier said than done—trust us, we know. 

But high levels of debt can curb your future returns and stymie your cash flow. Paying off your debt now will free you up in retirement to fulfill other spending goals. After paying for necessities and maxing out your retirement accounts, focus on paying down high-interest debt like credit cards, medical bills, student/Parent Plus loans, personal loans, and more.

Common Debts To Watch Out For 

  1. Mortgages
  2. Student Loans
  3. Car Loans
  4. Credit Cards

Entering retirement with little to no debt makes the financial planning process much more comfortable. Think about how much you could save each month if you didn’t have to pay your mortgage or car loans. Your 50s are often your highest earning years. Take advantage of that additional income and proactively pay down debt.

Invest Wisely and Creatively 

Your investment allocation as you approach retirement becomes more critical as the time to begin withdrawing the funds gets closer. You can’t really afford massive market downturns without your portfolio feeling the aftermath. So what should you do about it?

Tips for Managing Investments in Your 50s

  1. Resist the urge to speculate. Now is not the time to take big bets on the next “it” company. Instead, take a diversified and goal-oriented approach to your investments.
  2. Diversify your investments across multiple sources (i.e., pre-tax accounts, Roth accounts, taxable brokerage accounts, cash, real estate, etc.). This will give you optionality in retirement and allow you to control your tax situation.
  3. Revisit your investments at regular intervals. You need to consistently tie your asset allocations and investment strategy to specific goals and timelines. Consider how much you can afford to lose at any moment and still reach your goals.

Reduce Education Costs

Giving the gift of education to your children is outstanding. But you need to factor in your financial future, too.

Questions to Ask Regarding Education Costs

  1. How much can you afford to spend on your children’s education?
  2. If you are paying for education costs, how much can you save for your personal goals? How does this compare to your savings levels before education costs were a factor?
  3. As a percentage of your overall expenses, how much do education costs consist of?

Setting boundaries and communicating with your children is critical here. Clearly lay out what you will pay for and what they will be responsible for. It can be a touchy subject, but it’s a conversation worth having.

Create A Plan for Caregiving

On the opposite end of the family tree, you may want to consider the cost of caregiving for your elderly parents. Similar to the discussion you had with your children regarding educational expenses, you should set expectations with your parents for their potential caregiving expenses.

Being proactive is likely the most challenging part. This discussion will inevitably become much more manageable the sooner you have it. If you wait until they need the care, there is very little to do from a financial planning perspective. Consider asking your parents to review their estate plan and see what their plans for end-of-life care look like.

Take Your 50s To The Next Financial Level

For most married couples, age 50 is not the finish line, it’s more like the halfway point. It’s common for couples to have 30+ years in retirement (even longer with life expectancies continuing to increase), making it vital to properly plan.

Building wealth in your 50s is complex. You’re doing your best to focus on accumulation while also considering what retirement will look like.

At Bienvenue Wealth, we work specifically with investors just like you. We would love to help you craft a plan that sets you up for a successful retirement. Schedule an introductory meeting with our team today.