“Where do I begin?” That’s the big question when it comes to managing your money. The true, though sometimes frustrating answer is, it depends.
It depends on where you’re starting from, the circumstances you’re currently in, and what you want your money to afford you in the future.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all roadmap, each life stage typically comes with new financial challenges and considerations. So we’re breaking down the most important money moves to make in each decade to help guide your next steps no matter your age.
In Your 20s
Build your emergency savings. Emergencies happen, even in your 20s. Prepare for the unexpected by setting up a separate savings account for covering these costs. While you might not be able to contribute much to start, setting up automatic transfers from your paycheck or checking account to your emergency savings account can get you into the habit of saving. Ultimately, the goal is to build this savings account up with enough funds to cover 3-6 months’ worth of living expenses.
In Your 30s
Increase your retirement contributions. If your 20s are about getting started with retirement savings, your 30s are about ‘getting on track’ and making sure you’re investing enough to afford the retirement you want. Consider increasing your IRA or 401(k) contributions with every raise.
In Your 40s
Review your insurance needs. Although having adequate insurance coverage is important at every life stage, it’s especially important as you have more people, like a partner, kids or even parents, relying on you. So make sure you have the right amount of health, property, disability and life insurance.
In Your 50s
Avoid additional debt. You don’t want to enter into retirement with a lot of debt, so in addition to paying off any outstanding debts of your own, make sure you’re not borrowing any major sums on behalf of anyone else either.
In Your 60s (and beyond)
Plan your legacy. Though it’s never too early to write a will, it’s especially important when you have dependents and have amassed significant assets. Consider working with an attorney to put your estate plans in place, including a will and power of attorney.
This list is just the start, and your exact timeline may differ. But the blueprint here can help guide you on your own financial journey, wherever it leads you. Remember, there are many paths to wealth, from saving and investing, to simply making more money. If you’re interested in taking full control of your financial future, no matter your age, check out The YouEconomist column (page 30) to learn about opportunities to join the world of entrepreneurship.
This article was published in September 2019 and has been updated. Photo by @ulza/Twenty20