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How to invest in your 50s

4 mins read
by Unbiased Team
Last updated Thursday, March 14, 2024

In your 50s and wondering how to invest your hard-earned cash? Whether you’re a seasoned investor or just getting started, here’s what you need to consider.

By the time you hit your 50s, you should have a good idea of where you stand financially, and hopefully have a decent-sized pension pot. 

But your 50s can also be a time when your expenses start rising. You might be supporting your child financially or supporting seriously ill family members.

These responsibilities, along with potentially preparing for retirement, can feel daunting. 

We’ll reveal some tips for how to make the most of your money when you invest in your 50s. 

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1. Figure out your financial priorities 

Before you decide how to invest your savings, it’s worth thinking about your immediate financial priorities. 

First, look at any debt you may have and consider clearing that first.

The quicker you clear your debt, the less you’ll pay in interest.

If the interest you’re paying on your debt exceeds the return on savings or investments, clearing your debt off first is a no-brainer.  

If you’ve got the option to make overpayments on your mortgage without incurring a penalty, that’s also worth considering. 

2. Build a ‘rainy-day’ fund 

It’s generally recommended you set aside three to six months’ worth of expenses in case of emergencies.

And when you’re in your 50s with family members who might depend on you, a contingency plan is more important than ever. 

Any emergency fund should be easy to access.

So, you should look into an easy-access savings account that offers some interest and allows instant withdrawals. 

3. Don’t neglect your pension 

If you’re in your late 50s and considering retiring in the next few years, ask yourself whether your current pension (or pensions!) is enough for the type of retirement you’d like. 

If it’s looking like you won’t have enough for your ideal retirement, you should prioritise paying into your pension

Even if your retirement is not immediately on the horizon, boosting your pension may be less risky than investing in stocks and shares. 

Investing in the stock market can deliver greater returns, but it also comes with more risk – and you need to be invested for a few years if you want to ride out any volatility.  

You might also want to consider a Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP), so you have more control as you approach retirement. 

You can access a SIPP from the age of 55 (rising to 57 from 2028), so you can retire then if you have enough money and aren’t reliant on the state pension.  

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4. Limiting risk 

You might already be a seasoned investor with a healthy investment portfolio, but it’s worth reviewing your investments to make sure that they still align with your financial goals. 

Maintaining a diverse investment portfolio should remain a priority as you approach retirement to limit your exposure to risk.

That means spreading your investments across asset classes, varying the size of companies you invest in and choosing a mix of companies across established and emerging markets.  

As you get closer to retirement, you can move to lower-risk investments.

For example, by increasing your exposure to bonds, you can protect your capital and receive an income. 

5. Prioritise income over growth 

While a diverse portfolio is essential, a general rule of thumb is to choose investments that offer you income rather than capital growth.  

This means you can use your investments to boost your pension.

High-income funds typically include corporate bonds, government bonds and dividend-paying shares. 

6. Consider an index or exchange-traded fund (ETF) 

Index funds and ETFs can be a simple way to diversify your portfolio.  

Choosing one of these funds means you don’t need to research and analyse each stock.

An experienced, independent financial adviser can advise you on the best funds to choose from. 

Alternatively, investing in a hedge fund is an option that can deliver higher returns, but these are restricted to accredited investors. 

Hedge fund managers tend to take a more aggressive approach to investing, so there’s more risk. 

If you have a low-risk appetite, a hedge fund might not be the best option. 

Learn more: what's the difference between ETFs and index funds?

Managing your wealth 

It makes sense to take an increasingly conservative approach to managing your wealth as you approach retirement.

Depending on your situation, that might mean moving your investments into bonds, prioritising your pension or boosting your rainy-day fund. 

For tailored advice on getting more from your money in your 50s, Unbiased can connect you with a qualified, independent financial adviser near you.

Tell us more about your current situation and financial goals, and we’ll match you with an adviser who can help. 

See also:

Investing in your 20s

Investing in your 30s

Investing in your 40s

Investing in your 60s

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Unbiased Team
Our team of writers, who have decades of experience writing about personal finance, including investing, retirement and pensions, are here to help you find out what you must know about life’s biggest financial decisions.