When I was 29 some guy my own age told me his goal was to become a millionaire by the age of 30. I thought he was just a weird guy, but I’ve heard the same sentiment several times since. What I’ve noticed with each person that’s said this phrase is they actually have no plan to help them reach their goal. It’s more like a vague wish.
This particular wish is pretty outlandish for most, but there are other more realistic goals and pressures floating around confusing twenty somethings. Here is the definitive list of goals you should work toward accomplishing before you reach 30.
1) You should be student loan debt free. No excuses here. I don’t care if you have over $100,000 in student loans. You can do this. Regardless of your income and student loan amount, this is your #1 priority.
2) Actively participating in your employer-sponsored retirement program (401k). You are probably going to work for 40 years to fund another 40 years of living in retirement. Start early and contribute as much as you can.
3) Have a good start on your emergency fund. It doesn’t have to be fully funded yet, because you should prioritize your student loan payoff plan, but start saving a small amount now. The habit will serve you well, and when your debt is paid off you can work toward filling this fund up.
Your overarching goal is to have a clean slate when you get to 30. You can mess around in your 20s, but avoid digging yourself into a hole. Your 20s are for flexibility and fun, but you don’t want to move backwards. If you want supreme flexibility, avoid buying a house too early. Focus on paying off your student loan debt and then move forward from there.
Peter Dunn a.k.a. Pete the Planner® is an award-winning financial mind and a former comedian. He’s a USA TODAY columnist, author of ten books, and is the host of the popular radio show and podcast, The Pete the Planner Show. Pete is considered one of the foremost experts on financial wellness in the world, but he’s just as likely to talk your ear off about bass fishing.