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Four BIG reasons why turning 50 rocks!

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En español | About to hit the big 5-0? Aside from achieving a major milestone in your life, turning 50 brings a variety of perks—and some (pleasantly) unexpected benefits. Here are our top four.

#1: Discounts galore

Probably the most obvious perk is saving money—on all kinds of things. You’ll be eligible to join AARP at 50 and take advantage of some sweet discounts for “seniors”—even if you hardly feel like one! If AARP is not for you, there are still lots of other discounts available to seniors. Here are just a few examples:

Get some retail therapy – A number of retail chains offer senior discounts on certain days of the week. Do a little online research before your next shopping trip, or ask a sales associate at the store to see if any are available.

In many cases, senior discounts aren’t widely advertised, so don’t be afraid to ask.

Lower your grocery bill – It’s a little-known fact that certain supermarkets offer senior discounts. These types of perks can vary by location, so be sure to ask about them at your store.

Catch a flick – Some movie theatre chains offer their own senior discounts and some accept an AARP card for additional savings on snacks and drinks.

Get in tune with nature – People over 62 qualify to get the "America The Beautiful Senior Pass," currently available for $10, which provides free lifetime access to all national parks and federal recreational lands. Museums and zoos may also offer discounts—even free admission—to older visitors.

Save on insurance – Some insurance companies offer discounts to homeowners at age 55. And many car insurers automatically apply a discount for customers who reach a certain age, so check with your agent or insurer to make sure you’re not missing out.

Cut your household costs – You may be able to score discounts on your cellphone plan, cable bill, trash pickup, utilities and even property taxes, depending on where you live.

#2: Your kids—all grown up!

An unexpected benefit of turning 50 is seeing how your kids have morphed into really great adults—validation that all your hard work was worth it.

#3: Your second act

For many people, turning 50 means re-evaluating how you want to spend the next phase of life. Whether it’s pursuing a real estate license, opening a cupcake bakery or enrolling in nursing school, this is the perfect time to define and pursue your “second act.”

#4: Stronger financials

Starting at age 50, you can maximize your ability to save on taxes, potentially avoid government penalties and fees, and capitalize on certain benefits.

At Age...

You can...

50

You can make “catch-up” contributions to retirement savings accounts such as 401(k)s and IRAs. For 2016:

  • Once you reach $18,000 in contributions to your 401(k) plan, you can contribute an additional $6,000 for a total of $24,000.
  • You can also contribute an extra $1,000 to a traditional or Roth IRA, for a total of $6,500.1

55

This is the earliest age at which you can withdraw money from your 401(k) without paying the 10% early withdrawal penalty. This only applies if you're no longer employed by the company sponsoring the plan (note that you can withdraw the funds only from the 401(k) associated with your most recent employer). And, you can't withdraw money from your IRA just yet.

At 55, you can also make catch-up contributions to your health savings account (HSA) and use the funds for qualified medical expenses now or in the future. In 2016 if you’re a single HSA holder you can save up to $3,350, and add another $1,000 if you’re 55. If you contribute the 2015 maximum of $4,350 every year until you’re 65, you could accumulate over $59,000.2

59 ½

You can now withdraw money from your IRA without paying the 10% early withdrawal penalty. You can also withdraw money from any 401(k) account, rather than just the retirement account associated with the job you most recently left.

62

You’re now eligible to collect Social Security payments. But you may want to think twice before you take this step. If you begin collecting Social Security at this age, your payments may be reduced by up to 30%.

65

You’re now eligible for Medicare. In fact, you can sign up three months prior to your 65th birthday in order to get coverage that begins during the month you turn 65. This is an important deadline to keep on your calendar, because if you don't sign up right away, your Medicare Part B premiums might permanently increase, and it's possible that you may be denied supplemental coverage.

67

If you were born in 1960 or later, your Social Security full retirement age is 67. Remember, though, that your payments will increase by 8% per year every year that you delay collecting benefits until age 70.

70

This is the final year in which you can delay collecting Social Security benefits and still receive that 8% annual increase. If you delay collecting benefits past age 70, you won't collect any additional reward—so you may as well start collecting the payments now.

70 ½

You now must take mandatory distributions from your traditional IRA and 401(k). Talk to your tax advisor about how to calculate the correct amount. This is a critical issue, because the tax penalty for failing to withdraw the correct amount is 50% of the amount that you should have withdrawn.

Think the catch-up contribution isn’t worthwhile? Think again: If you contribute the 2016 maximum of $24,000 to your 401(k) each year between ages 50 and 65, you could add more than $430,000—to what you have already accumulated!3

Growing older is not a choice—it’s going to happen whether you embrace it or not—so own it and take advantage of all the positives. And remember, you’re only as old as you feel. Major League Baseball player Chili Davis, age 55, got it right when he said, “Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional.”

Learn more and take action

  • Ready to take advantage of catch-up contributions? If your company’s 401(k) plan is through Merrill Lynch, increase your contribution rate on Benefits OnLine > 401(k) > Current Elections > Contribution Rates > Change Contribution Rates.
  • If you’re down about getting older, don’t be. In fact, you’re in good company! 78 million Americans, and millions more around the world, are approaching retirement age. Read “The End of Old” to learn about some of the ways the aging population is transforming how we live, work and invest.
 
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1 For 2016, the maximum you can contribute to all your traditional and Roth IRAs is the smaller of: $6,500 (if you are age 50 or older), or your taxable compensation for the year.

2 This hypothetical illustration assumes an annual contribution of $4,350 a year, for 10 years (Total contributions: $43,500) with contributions made at the beginning of the month and 6% annual effective rate of return. Hypothetical results are for illustrative purposes only and are not meant to represent the past or future performance of any specific investment vehicle. Investment return and principal value will fluctuate and when redeemed the investments may be worth more or less than their original cost. Assumes contributions made to HSA are made with pre-tax dollars. You won’t pay taxes on money you withdraw from your HSA for qualified medical expenses.

3 The hypothetical illustration above assumes a pre-tax contribution of $24,000 a year for 15 years, with contributions made at the beginning of the month and 6% annual effective rate of return. Hypothetical results are for illustrative purposes only and are not meant to represent the past or future performance of any specific investment vehicle. Investment return and principal value will fluctuate and when redeemed the investments may be worth more or less than their original cost. Taxes are due upon withdrawal. If you take a withdrawal prior to age 59 ½, you may also be subject to a 10% additional federal tax.

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