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Money Fix: Setting priorities for your 40s

When you're self-employed, are you required to spend

When you're self-employed, are you required to spend money on workers' compensation insurance? Credit: iStock

Your 40s can be fabulous, but they can be complicated financially. While each person's situation is unique, here's a yardstick to measure where you should be.

Prioritize: The 40s can usher in a time when you face conflicting needs and expenses, like financially supporting aging relatives and providing for your children, while trying to reach your goals.

"Take a step back. What's important? Make a list of all financial obligations and goals, from daily expenses to long-term plans. Prioritize them," says Mary Keckler, vice president of financial advice at Ameriprise Financial in Minneapolis.

Rein in debt: Consider matching a debt payoff date with a retirement date, suggests Andrew Samalin, a certified financial planner with Samalin Investment Counsel in Chappaqua.

Make at least one extra mortgage payment per year to pay your mortgage off quicker. "Doing this now will mean earlier financial security in retirement," says Jennifer Cona, managing partner at Genser Dubow Genser & Cona, an elder-law and estate-planning firm in Melville.

Protect and plan: Insurance needs change dramatically in your 40s. You likely have accumulated assets and started a family. "Review the amount of insurance you need. Don't be underinsured when you most need insurance," Cona says.

Build an emergency fund of at least six months of expenses.

Establish estate planning documents, such as a will and health care proxies, says Matthew Carbray, a certified financial planner with Ridgeline Financial Partners in Avon, Connecticut.

"Avoid losing control of who could make financial and legal decisions for you," says Ann Dowd, a certified financial planner at Fidelity in Boston.

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