Colette Sexton, news correspondent at The Sunday Business Post, with some money advice for people in their 40s.
Maximise your salary
Most people hit their peak income in their 40s. Keep that in mind in every salary negotiation and every job change. Do not be afraid to ask for more money. At this point, many of you will have nearly two decades of experience in the workplace. Do not undervalue yourself and your skills. If you have reached a point in your career where you are comfortable and not willing to climb further up the ladder, that is great and it is your decision. If that position grants you a little more free time, use it well. Take up a new hobby or even a side business that can help you earn a bit of extra cash. Every little helps ahead of retirement. If you really hate your career, then think about changing. Yes, it might require returning to education or a salary cut, but you have another 20 years in the workforce - you deserve to enjoy them as much as possible.
Plan for retirement
By your 40s, you should have a good idea of when you want to retire. Make an appointment with a pensions advisor to ensure that you are on track to meet your ideal retirement age. You might not have looked at your pension contributions in years, decades even. It is important not to bury your head in the sand. It might be an arduous process but making a plan now for retirement will be worth it.
Check and renegotiate your outgoings
Life is busy. We don’t always dedicate the time we should to getting the best deal but if you can save hundreds or even thousands of euro a year by changing mortgage providers, energy suppliers, insurance companies, and so on, then do it. Clear an afternoon to sit down with your bills and get the best possible deal across all of your regular payments.
Caring for relatives
While they say life begins at forty, it can be a tough time as people of this age often find themselves minding small children, elderly parents, or both. This takes its toll emotionally, but also financially. If you want to take some time off work to care for your loved ones, you might just be thinking about the emotions but it is vital to take into account how it will affect you financially too. You might be entitled to a carer's allowance, which is a means-tested payment given to people on low incomes who are looking after a person who needs support because of age, disability or illness. The maximum weekly rate for someone who is younger than 66 and caring for one person is €214. Will that be enough for you to live on? Think very carefully before committing.
Teach your children to value money
Some people in their forties might have offspring in creche, while others might be sending theirs off to college. While it is only natural to want the best for your children, do not neglect your own life savings. They won’t thank you for it when you are elderly and relying on them for money. If you can’t afford to cover all of your children’s college fees, then set a realistic goal of paying half or a quarter. Encourage your children to work to help fund their own education - they will value it more if they pay for it.