Once you’ve been on this Earth for half a century, it’s time to get serious about your retirement and financial planning. For many, your 50e birthday is a kick in the ass to really start thinking about the future. When will work become optional? Can you afford the trips on the to-do list? Even where will you live once you leave the workforce?

I’m 50 (or older). What do I do now? Keep reading to learn about the money moves you need to make once you hit the ripe old age of 50. If you’re already 50 or older, there’s still time to improve your financial security. Likewise, you still have time to make smart retirement planning choices to improve your future retirement. Do not be too long; time is no longer on your side; the sooner you get serious, the easier it will be to achieve financial freedom.

“I’m 50, now what? What you need to do now

Now is the time to take stock of where you are in life and where you want to be in the future. When do you want to retire? (Some of you will respond tomorrow, while a few of you may be planning to work forever). More importantly, it’s time to review your progress towards your dream retirement. Are you on the road to financial freedom? Or do you need to make drastic lifestyle changes now to make working later in life a choice rather than an obligation?

It may feel like retirement is still years away, but it will be here before you know it. Did you ever really think you would be 50? By the time you retire, it’s not that long before you realize your retirement savings will likely last 30 years or more. Living to 100 is a possibility for many people reading this article.

If you haven’t saved anything for retirement yet, catching up on a nest egg is not a lost cause, but I’m not going to lie to you, achieving financial freedom and maintaining your lifestyle in retirement will be a real challenge. Retirement options and needs vary from person to person, of course.

Separating financial needs from wants

It’s easy for things that were once luxuries to be seen as necessities. While I don’t expect anyone to give up their iPhones in retirement, you might want to rethink other “necessary” expenses.

Do you need to lease a new Lexus every two years without driving to work? If that new car meant you had to work an extra year or two to afford it, would you still “need” it? Perhaps you could instead suffer by buying a new car every five years? An added benefit, the longer you have owned a car, the cheaper your car registration and insurance will be.

Freeing up your retirement spending plan money from all your day-to-day expenses can mean retiring early. Or maybe driving that paid car will allow you to have even more money in your travel budget. What will bring you the most happiness and pleasure?

Without adequately saving for retirement and having a retirement spending plan, most Americans will eventually struggle to afford even the most basic necessities.

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If you’re late, consider delaying your retirement

Working longer isn’t ideal, but it has the potential to significantly increase your retirement income security. Some of you could benefit from an extra year of work. You may want to consider postponing retirement for a few years for those starting late.

A few extra years of investing using compound interest can make a huge difference to your retirement nest egg. For example, if at age 50 you managed to accumulate $1,000,000 in a retirement account and then saved $20,500 per year in a 401(k) (assuming 8% growth before tax), your nest egg could swell to around $3,700,000 at age 65. By waiting 70 years to retire, you could have about $5,600,000. Waiting until age 70 meant an additional $1,900,000 in retirement assets. And that would also mean bigger social security checks every month for the rest of your life.

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Get your social security quote

Ideally, Social Security isn’t your only source of retirement income. The average Social Security check is only $1,614 a month in 2022. Would that level of retirement income even cover your rent, let alone utilities? It surely won’t cover many nights at the Four Seasons Maldives resort and won’t allow you to travel there in business class. Take the time and get your estimated Social Security benefits from the SSA.gov website. It’s free.

If you’re wondering, the maximum Social Security benefit in 2022 is (you forgot to include this information. I checked online and found the following… $2,364 for someone who files at age 62 and 3 $345 for those waiting for full retirement age The maximum social security benefit at age 70 is $4,194 per month in 2022.

If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to developing a proactive plan for your dream retirement, find a paid Certified Financial Planner to guide you. Look for ways to reduce your expenses and increase your investments for retirement.