Your 50. Will you be ready for retirement?

Hitting 50 is one of the milestones in life that cause many to pause and reflect. Some think about relationships with family and friends. Others use the moment to learn from past successes and mistakes. But it’s hard to deny that many also have one thought about the future. That is, will I be able to retire the way I want to?

By any measure, most Americans in their 50’s don’t have enough to answer “yes” to that question. If you find yourself in that situation, don’t get down about it. You can make plenty of moves to retire on your own terms.

Here are a few.

Get a trustworthy financial planner

Don’t beat yourself up if your retirement coffers aren’t full yet. Retirement planning is complex. That’s why hiring a fiduciary financial planner can be so helpful. A fiduciary can offer insights into retirement planning, including the best tax alternatives for your situation.

They usually charge a fee instead of taking commissions on the sales of products. This is important because many non-fiduciary financial planners sell financial products that can benefit them more than their clients.

By hiring a fee-only fiduciary advisor, you are assured they are putting your best interests first. To start your search, try logging on to the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors website

Eliminate debt

Nothing can hinder saving for retirement like too much debt. The good news is that, after 50, many things that created debt are either gone or fading fast. For example, student loans or saving for children’s college (yes, that’s debt) are ending for many at this point in life.

Take advantage of those opportunities to add to your retirement nest egg. But don’t wait for old debts to fade away. If you are worried about retirement, now is the time to find new ways to reduce debt.

Consider two of your biggest assets, your home and your vehicle. For many empty nesters, it’s possible to downsize houses. Depending on your situation, this might create a financial windfall that can add a big chunk of change to your retirement account. Vehicles can be another source of retirement income. Selling that expensive car with the big payment and buying something less expensive outright can be a significant monthly windfall.

And don’t forget about the toys either. Motorcycles and recreational vehicles can be sold or downsized and put toward retirement. The list goes on and on. Look at items you are paying a monthly note for and see if you can live without them or with something less expensive.

It might not be fun now, but investing that extra money in the right plan can reap large rewards in the future.

Save outside of tax-deferred accounts

One common retirement planning mistake is putting all your retirement savings in tax-deferred accounts. But withdrawals on these accounts are taxed as regular income, putting a big dent in your retirement income.

Speak with your financial advisor and a CPA to determine how much you should save outside your 401(k) or IRA. It’s better to have three retirement savings buckets: tax-free, taxable, and tax-deferred accounts.

So, don’t give up. There is still hope even if you are behind on retirement savings. Getting help, eliminating unnecessary debt, and thinking outside the box on retirement accounts can get you where you want to be.