Life in your 20s is very different from life in your 50s. You aren't in the same place each decade of your life and your financial needs change. There are constant good decisions like don't spend more than you can afford, save up for a bad day, and so on but what about the advice that changes? Here are some of the best pieces of advice for each decade of your life.
Welcome To the World of Finance
Get yourself a piggy bank to start and make sure you're saving up! Collect your allowance and gifts in there. Once you're a little older get yourself your first job. If you have the ability to have your own spending money that's great but don't spend it all. You'll start college and want to have some of your own money that won't go just towards groceries. If you start saving when you're young you won't regret it.
Learn How To Budget
Learn the difference between your wants and your needs with a good budget. Find your daily and monthly expenses to see how much room you have to work with. The easiest way to do that is to download a budget app that will keep track of everything you spend, even the things you forgot about. Find out where your money is going, and see if it's being allocated properly. You might think that you have some spare cash and can buy yourself something nice, but are you saving anything for the future?
Make a Debt Plan
Student debt is a crushing reality for most young people, do you have a plan to pay it back?
You can't let it linger or grow to ruin your financial future. Work the payments into your budget and find some strategies that will help lift the burden. Check out these strategies for repaying student loans and try your hardest to keep up with the payments. Automatic payments can work wonders for taking some pressure off on remembering the bills.
Build Up Credit
Get a credit card, get a credit score, and pay back everything you buy on time. It's as simple as that if you want to have a stable financial future. Don't buy something you can't afford, and if you need to make sure you are paying it off responsibly each month. Your credit score will control your future with loans, banks, landlords, and more. Whatever you do, don't forget to pay the bills and have it destroy your credit score before you even start. Once again, automatic payments are the way to go.
Rethink The Budget
Your life is different than your 20s. You have more belongings, you might be making more money, and it's time to rebudget. Increase the money going towards your emergency fund savings. Adjust your insurance to make sure you have adequate coverage and are getting the best deal. Make sure you're staying on top of your debt repayment plan. You have kids, or are they on the horizon? Make sure there's room for them in the budget, and not just the immediate needs but their future college funds.
Start Saving For Your 401(k)
Nearly half of families don't have any retirement savings. Hopefully you've started saving in your 401(k) by matching your employer's percentage, but it's time to bump that up. Experts recommend saving 15% or more of your income for retirement. If you contribute now every dollar you withdraw in retirement will be taxed at your ordinary income- tax rate, aka its some tax-free income in retirement.
Once you have your budget covering immediate needs and a percentage saved for emergencies you can invest for the future. Do your research and find the best options for you, your investment portfolio, and your family. Don't stretch yourself too thin and make sure you aren't taking risks that you can't recover from. Here are some great tips, and potential investments.
Keep Up The Good Work
Make sure you're adjusting your budget for your needs without indulging in lifestyle inflation. Paying your bills on time is just as important as it was in your 20s and 30s to make sure you still have a great credit score. If you've been saving up for your kids college funds and weddings remember to not stretch yourself over to the retirement funds.
Get Estate Planning Help
It's time to set up your will. Sure you may feel young and healthy now, but you want to be ready for whatever might be coming your way. Think about your retirement goals, the future allocation of your assets, and your power of attorney and health care proxy. Organize the chaos before it becomes any sort of problem.
Consider the Kids
You want to make sure everyone has a financial future, and if you are making sacrifices for them that you can't get out of nobody benefits. You can't borrow the money back for retirement or medical needs once its gone. If everyone is moved out, consider downsizing to a smaller place. The upkeep will be cheaper and you can look at places in a lower tax bracket. If your situation has changed, consider taking another look at your will.
Keep an Eye on the Finish Line
Retirement might feel like it's close enough to touch or miles away depending on your financial situation. Hopefully you've been saving and can just keep investing in your 401(k). The government wants to help you save for retirement and once you're 50 you can save more tax-free in IRAs, Roth IRAs, and health savings accounts.
Reevaluate Your Situation
Return to the diversification of your portfolio and adjust your assets. When you near retirement it's a good idea to make more conservative investments while staying aware of inflation. If you've been saving, investing, and budgeting then you should be in a good place. Obviously accidents and illnesses happen and that can throw everything into chaos, but if it takes you a little longer to get to retirement don't judge yourself. Everyone gets there in their own time.
No matter what decade you're in there is a lot to learn about how you can make your financial situation better. It never hurts to think ahead and compile a long term plan. Take your time, do your research, and when you can try to consult an expert to ensure your future success.