Everyone’s attitude toward investing and money is different. Yet, most people share some common situations throughout their lives. For instance, as you grow older time certainly affects how you invest for retirement, but what about other life stages that aren’t related to age?

Let’s say you’re 40 and expecting your first child. You’ll need to decide how to balance your finances to account for the extra expenses of a child. Moreover, your child will be entering college at about the time you may be ready to retire! In these circumstances, your growth and income needs will change, as well as your risk tolerance.

The following are some major life events that most of us share and some investment decisions that you may want to consider:

When you start your career:

  • Start a savings account to build a cash reserve
  • Start a retirement fund and make regular monthly contributions, no matter how small. 457 programs allow you to start, stop or change your contributions at any time with no penalty
  • If you don’t have access to a 457 account, consider opening an IRA

When you get a raise:

  • Increase your contributions, if applicable
  • Increase your emergency savings

When you get married:

  • Determine your new investment contributions and allocations, taking into account your combined income and expenses

When you want to buy your first house:

  • Consider investing some of your non-retirement savings in a short-term investment specifically for funding your down payment, closing, and moving costs

When you have a child:

  • Increase your emergency savings
  • Increase your life insurance
  • Start a college fund

When you change jobs:

  • Review your investment strategy and asset allocation to accommodate a new salary and a different benefits package
  • Consider your options for your account in your company’s retirement savings or pension plan. In some cases, you may want to roll in funds from outside accounts to help consolidate your financial information and gain access to a streamlined investment menu

When all your children have moved out of the house:

  • Boost your retirement savings contributions

When you reach 55:

  • Review your retirement fund asset allocation to accommodate the shorter time frame for your investments. If your funds are invested in the MERS Retirement Strategies, you can rest assured that your money is automatically shifting from stocks to bonds over time – adjusting to a strategy that will help get you to and through retirement
  • Continue saving for retirement and consider “catch-up” contributions

When you retire:

  • Carefully study the options you may have for taking money from your retirement savings, social security, Medicare and retiree healthcare. Discuss your alternatives with your financial advisor
  • Review your combined potential income after retirement
  • Have a decumulation plan that will get you through retirement