Now that you have reached your 40s, you may have checked off some major life milestones.

You may have a spouse, own a home, and have children in school. There may be a few more notches on your career belt, too—which could mean higher pay.

With so much going on, it’s easy to set your finances aside.

But you can’t afford to overlook investing with college tuition and retirement on the horizon. Here are the best ways to tackle your family’s competing priorities. And thankfully, these are also some of the best investments to make in your 40s.

How to Pay for College

As your children get older, you may be thinking more about saving for college.

Costs are higher than ever with no signs of slowing down. If you haven’t started saving yet, it’s not too late. But it may be difficult to reach your goal by saving alone.

Regardless of your timeline, the right college investing plan is key.

Your strategy depends on a few different factors:

  • How much are you willing to contribute?
  • How many years until each child goes to college?
  • How comfortable do you feel about changes in the stock market?

The less time until your kids go to school, the more difficult it may be to reach your goal.

You may also shift your investing strategy from aggressive to conservative. As you get closer to actually needing the money, you may be less willing to lose it.

If you realize your goal is unrealistic, it may be worth considering other ways to pay for school.

Your children may be eligible for scholarships, grants, work-study, or student loans. The sooner you begin the college planning process, the more options your children will have.

Investing in your 40s might mean navigating competing priorities.

How to Save For Retirement

By your 40s, you may feel more solid in your career.

You may be earning a higher salary—with more generous employee benefits—than ever before.

It may be tempting to blow the extra compensation on a bigger house, a newer car, or a better wardrobe.

But with retirement only a couple of decades away, it’s better to care for your nest egg first.

  • Contribute to your workplace retirement plan. Now is the perfect time to put your higher salary to good use. Annual raises are a great opportunity to increase your retirement plan contributions. If your living expenses stay the same, you won’t even notice the difference.
  • Consider an individual retirement account (IRA) or health savings account (HSA). Your company’s 401(k) or 403(b) is an excellent way to save. For another boost, open an individual retirement account (IRA). With a high-deductible health insurance plan, you may be eligible for a health savings account (HSA), too. You can save and invest the money for tax-free growth. As you get older, you will appreciate the dedicated fund for costly medical expenses.
  • Don’t skip retirement savings to pay for college. If your college fund is looking slim, it may be tempting to try and catch up quickly. This could mean cutting back or stopping retirement savings for a while—which may be a mistake. Remember, you can borrow money for college, but not for retirement.

Like your college fund, your retirement investing strategy depends on many factors.

If you begin investing in your 40s, there is still plenty of time before retirement. This may allow you to take a bit more risk for higher potential returns.

As you get closer to retirement, your investments may shift to a more conservative approach.

It may feel overwhelming to try and juggle more than one financial priority. If the stress is too much, consider asking an expert for help. It never hurts to have a professional review your progress and goals.

Figuring out the Best Investments in Your 40s

If you are ready to get serious about your finances, investing in your 40s is a must.

Earning more is a good thing—but only if you put it to good use.

Rather than upgrading your family’s lifestyle, consider being more aggressive with your goals. Don’t overlook retirement to pay for college.

In a couple of short decades, you will be pleased you made both financial goals a priority.

Save for what matters.

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