A midlife money checkup

Are you still on pace to reach your goals despite today's market woes? Find out by taking this nine-step test of your financial health. It won't hurt a bit.

8. What do you want to do next?

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Set aside money for your job-hunt expenses in addition to your emergency fund. If you're embarking on a risky new job or going back to school, figure on needing six to 12 months' worth of extra reserves.
8. What do you want to do next?
Call it a midlife crisis or call it sensible planning. But after 20-plus years in the work force, you may be a little restless. In a recent Money Magazine survey, 43% of boomers said the idea of a new job was appealing. Among young boomers, 50% said so.

"Now's the time to ask yourself," says financial planner Sheryl Garrett of Shawnee Mission, Kans., "do you want to keep doing what you're doing for the rest of your life?" You still have plenty of time to build a new career or launch a business, but you don't want to jeopardize your family's security by trying out random ventures.

Your first step should be a career assessment, says Mike Haubrich, a financial adviser in Racine, Wis. Ask yourself: Am I happy? Have I advanced as far as I hoped? What are the prospects for my industry? Maybe you'll decide you're satisfied where you are. If so, keep acquiring new skills and network regularly to stay competitive.

Or you may decide you want to switch jobs. Trouble is, an economic slowdown might be the worst time to look for work. So use this time to lay the financial groundwork:
  • Save more. It takes cash to cultivate your career: for training and college courses, for networking events and to pay expenses during a transition. Says Haubrich: "You have to invest in your career just as you do with your portfolio."
  • Budget. If you're leaving a corporate job to go solo, price individual health insurance before you leap. Or see if you can switch to your spouse's coverage. Figure out your monthly expenses so you know how much you need to earn. Trim your debt while you still have a steady paycheck.
  • Do research. Know the value of the retirement benefits you're giving up, including a 401(k) match and a pension. A traditional pension is worth 20% to 30% in higher pay.
Last updated February 11 2008: 1:33 PM ET

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Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer LIBOR Warning: Neither BBA Enterprises Limited, nor the BBA LIBOR Contributor Banks, nor Reuters, can be held liable for any irregularity or inaccuracy of BBA LIBOR. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.
Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer LIBOR Warning: Neither BBA Enterprises Limited, nor the BBA LIBOR Contributor Banks, nor Reuters, can be held liable for any irregularity or inaccuracy of BBA LIBOR. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.