Though 40 may be the new 30, the reality is that it's 10 years closer to retirement. So you need to really get serious about boosting your savings and making other smart money-related decisions that'll set the stage for financial security down the line. Here are a few specific milestones you should aim to hit before you officially turn the big 4-0.
1. Have a fully loaded emergency fund
Before you can really think about saving for the future, you need to make sure you have enough money to cover unplanned bills at present. And that's where your emergency fund comes in. Ideally, that account should contain enough money to cover three to six months of essential living expenses. That way, if you lose your job, fall ill, or encounter a major home repair, you'll have cash reserves to tap that'll keep you out of debt. And that leads to our next point...
2. Shed unhealthy credit card debt
If you're nearing 40, you might still have some pesky student loans to pay down. And you're probably nowhere close to having paid off your mortgage. But if you're sitting on credit card debt, you should make every effort to rid yourself of it as quickly as possible. Credit card debt can be extremely costly due to the interest rates attached to it, and the sooner you shake that debt, the less money you stand to throw out. Ditching your credit card debt could also help your credit score improve so that if you find yourself needing to borrow money, it's more feasible.
3. Start funding your nest egg
You may not have a fortune of money in your IRA or 401(k) by the time you turn 40. But you should at least have a solid foundation, and then aim to ramp up even more over the next decade. There's no single amount you should try to have socked away by age 40, as that figure will depend on factors like your current salary. In fact, Fidelity recommends having three times your salary saved up for retirement by the time you reach 40. But don't be discouraged if you're nowhere close. Instead, make every effort to start filtering more money into your IRA or 401(k), and pledge to continuously do better from year to year.
4. Purchase a life insurance policy
The idea of shopping and paying for life insurance may not be all that appealing, but if you have people in your life who depend on you financially, or who stand to lose out financially if you were to pass away unexpectedly, then you absolutely need a life insurance policy. But that doesn't mean you need a $1 million policy; rather, you need some coverage to ensure that if you were to pass, your loved ones wouldn't be totally left in the lurch. Opting for term life insurance over permanent life insurance is a good way to keep your premium costs down, and the benefit of getting that application in right in time for your 40th birthday is that you're still fairly young. As long as your health is decent, you should have a relatively easy time locking in a reasonable premium rate.
It's time to get serious about money
Though 40 is still a fairly young age, it's also a good point in life to get a better handle on your personal finances. If you make the above moves by 40, you'll put yourself in a strong position to approach the second half of your life from a more financially sound standpoint.