Retirement: Tips for your 50s

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SALT LAKE CITY — Kitty Holdaway is 47. She has a side job, Kitty's Custom Cakes.

"When I was a teenager, my parents owned a bakery, and they had this cute old guy that had been doing cakes for 50 years," she said. "And he taught me. So I started doing all of their cakes."

She makes wedding cakes, and said the marriage success rate is high for those who come to her.

"There's been days where, you know, we've needed a little extra money and we've had it," she said.

Her husband, Chad Holdaway, is a salesman. He's 50.

Suddenly, retirement isn't very far away for the Holdaways.

"You wake up one day and guess what, you're 50," Chad Holdaway said. "I didn't think it would happen."

But the couple has been preparing.

"We've been, you know, putting into a 401K for 20 years, 20 plus years," he said.

They met with an adviser.

Just like you wouldn't necessarily try to make your own wedding cake, you would want to get a professional.

–Kitty Holdaway

"Just like you wouldn't necessarily try to make your own wedding cake, you would want to get a professional," Kitty Holdaway said.

Chad Holdaway said they met with an adviser early on, and they're doing it again now.

"We feel pretty comfortable with how things are going to be because we've gone through a lot of ups and downs over the past 25 years," Kitty Holdaway said.

Chad Waddoups, vice president of investments and insurance with Mountain America Credit Union, said he has some tips for those entering age 50 and looking toward retirement.

Step 1: Maximize your contributions

"Once you turn 50, you have the ability by IRS rules to contribute more," Waddoups said.

In a 401K, the annual maximum contribution goes from $18,000 to $24,000.

In an IRA, it jumps from $5,500 to $6,500.

"If you're able to do it, making those additional catchup contributions after you're 50 makes a big difference to your retirement growth," he said.

Step 2: Choose the middle road

Waddoups said you should choose the middle road on your investments.

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"You'll be a little bit more moderate in your investment objects rather than being too conservative," he said.

He said individuals should avoid investing too conservatively.

"Because they have such limited growth, the growth that they need to have until retirement doesn't happen."

But just how much are you going to need? Waddoups said heed step number three.

Step 3: Test your budget

"We want to make sure we cannot only live and not only survive and get by, but we can enjoy our retirement years," Kitty Holdaway said.

"Looking at that budget that you need when you retire, you'll have a better idea of what that is when you're 50 rather than when you're 40," Waddoups said.

When you retire, Waddoups said something interesting happens with your lifestyle.

"You and I, when we are not working on a Saturday, that's typically when we spend most of our money," he said. "When you retire, suddenly everyday's a Saturday."

He said if you feel like you can live on a certain amount of money in retirement, test it out before you retire and see if it works for you.

Step 4: Review state planning documents

"It's important to review your estate planning documents," Waddoups said. "You want to make sure that you have your trust and your wills, your advanced medical directives, have all that in place."

Doing this will eliminate any confusion within the family if something should happen to you, he said.

And for those in their 50s who say they're too far behind, Waddoups said it is never too late.

"Even if you're in your 50s you need to start saving," he said.

The Holdaways said consistency is key. It's their vision of retirement that encourages them to keep saving.

"We want to be able to travel, we want to be able to visit children, we want to be able to have fun with our kids," Kitty Holdaway said.

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Emilee Bench


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