While there is no right or wrong answer as to what your net worth should be at any given time in your life, understanding what it means and where you stand might help you make some financial adjustments that could bolster your finances.
Why Does Net Worth Matter?
Your net worth is — simply put — your assets minus your liabilities, or debt.
And as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) explains, it is a good indicator of your financial health and a better measure of someone’s financial stability than income alone.
The FDIC further explains that your net worth can be a positive number — meaning that you have enough to cover your debt and some assets left. You can have zero net worth, in which case your assets equal your liabilities, and you don’t have a financial cushion. Or you can have a negative net worth, meaning that your liabilities are greater than your assets, and you don’t have a financial cushion in this situation, either.
But ideally, where should your net worth be in your 50s?
A general rule of thumb is that your net worth in your 50s should be around four to five times your annual salary, said Jeff Rose, CFP and founder of Good Financial Cents. For instance, he said that if someone’s earning $60,000 annually, their net worth might ideally be in the ballpark of $240,000 to $300,000.
Net Worth Isn’t One-Size-Fits-All
Yet, some experts argue that determining an ideal net worth in your 50s isn’t a one-size-fits-all scenario.
“It hinges on your lifestyle and your retirement goals,” said Joe Camberato, CEO of National Business Capital. “If I were to give a rough estimate, I’d suggest having at least $500,000 in savings by your 50s and ideally pushing toward a million or more. This should encompass cash, stocks, your 401(k) and any home equity, minus your debts and mortgage.”
In addition, some experts also said that the only guideline that applies to everyone equally is that in your 50s, your liquid net worth should be positive, as in you should have more liquid assets than you have liabilities.
“If you have a negative net worth or aren’t sure, it is time to take action to address your finances quickly,” said Stephen Kates, certified financial planner, professional and expert reviewer for Annuity.org.
What Can You Do To Increase Your Net Worth in Your 50s?
According to Camberato, you should focus on your liabilities and debt, and as you enter your 50s, work toward zero credit card debt, minimal luxury debt and, ideally, a mortgage that’s either paid off or close to it.
“For those who purchased a home in their 30s, they can achieve it with some extra effort. Consider making one additional mortgage payment toward the principal each year — this can shave off approximately seven years of mortgage payments,” he added.
And by paying off your mortgage in your 50s, you’ll free up monthly funds that can be redirected to bolster your investments and savings.
“This lays the foundation for a more secure retirement,” he added.
Additional ways to increase your net worth can be with catch-up contributions, as the Internal Revenue Service allows individuals aged 50 and older to make catch-up contributions to retirement accounts.
“This means you can add an extra $7,500 to your 401(k) or an extra $1,000 to your IRA annually. This can give your retirement savings a significant boost,” according to Rose.
Finally, you can also re-evaluate your lifestyle choices, as even small, regular expenses add up.
“Maybe it’s that daily fancy coffee or dining out too often. See where you can trim the fat without compromising on the quality of life,” said Rose. “By making mindful choices, like brewing coffee at home or opting for occasional potluck dinners with friends, you can save significantly.”
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