This post is sponsored by Lexington Law.
If you’re like me, you know you should be planning ahead but knowing what financial goals you should be aiming for can be a challenge. While there’s not necessarily a right or wrong answer, I do think it’s important that we set goals. Even if we don’t reach them, we’re at least moving onwards and upwards.
Setting financial goals, especially before age 30, will set you on the path to financial freedom later in life. This is becoming more and more important to generations throughout the years because it gives you choices.
Choice is very powerful. You won’t be backed into a corner or be forced into an undesirable situation. You can live your life the way you want to live it–and what could be better than that?
5 Achievable Financial Goals to Reach by Age 30:
1. Double your salary from age 25 to age 30.
Making more money is key to growing your savings, paying off debt, and finding financial freedom. While there is only so much you can cut out of your spending, there’s really no limit to how much money you can earn.
That said, you’ll want to focus your efforts on growing your salary or income, especially as you start to focus on life milestones likes home ownership, investing in rental property, buying a car, traveling or working abroad, or starting a family.
There are three primary ways you can start doing this in the immediate future:
- Start a side hustle: building an income outside of your 9-5 salary is a great way to diversify your income streams and raise your income. That extra income can go towards debt or savings as your goals change throughout your 20s and into your 30s. Your side hustle might be a service, a product, or creating passive income. Anything you do on the side of your primary job to make an income is a side hustle.
- Negotiate a raise: if you have no plans to change your career path or company, it’s probably time to ask for a raise. If you’re not quite ready to ask, begin laying the groundwork to set yourself up for a promotion. Asking for a raise involves getting in the right mindset, doing your research, and having a concrete plan.
- Change jobs: When you change jobs or companies, that generally comes with a salary increase (usually of at least 20% but anything is possible). Do your research to prepare for upcoming interviews. Know your worth and don’t accept anything less.
Doubling your salary between age 25 and age 30 gives you five years to reach that number. If you start by negotiating a raise, changing jobs or companies, and starting a side hustle, you’ll be on your way in no time.
Already there? Make it a goal to increase your income by 20% each year.
2. Eliminate all of your credit card debt.
Like we discussed here, the utilization ratio of your credit accounts for 30% of your FICO credit score. It’s used to predict future risk and behavior and shows how reliable you are as a borrower. There are ways to reduce your utilization ratio with a few simple changes. Since those big milestones you’re planning for are likely around the corner, now is a great time to reduce your credit card debt.
You don’t want those high interest rates and payments to hold you back in the future. Manage your finances so that you’re living within your means to avoid adding on more. Paying off debt and avoiding future debt should be high on your priority list for this reason.
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Paying it off can truly be a challenge. My best advice is not to compare your financial journey to anyone else’s. Everyone’s salary, past, current situation, and spending habits are different. Do the most with what you can where you are and begin taking steps for your own financial future. Here are five ways to pay off that debt.
Is your debt paid off? Take those payments you were putting towards debt and put them into a savings account.
3. Get your credit score into the good or excellent range.
Putting goals one and two together, having a high income doesn’t necessarily mean you have good credit. If you have good credit already, that’s great! But if you don’t, a credit fix could be a smart move for you. A high credit score will lead to reduced interest rates which means you’ll hit your financial goals that much faster.
Using Lexington Law’s OnTrack tool, you’ll be able to check your FICO score monthly, have your credit repaired on an as-needed basis (in case anything arises), and have access to score analysis which will help you see the best way to improve your credit score. Working with a credit repair service is a fantastic way to improve your credit and better understand your financial situation.
Already have a great credit score? Sign up for an identity monitoring service to stay in front of future issues.
4. Have six months worth of expenses in savings.
Having six months worth of expenses in savings is generally called an emergency fund. This money is there for you in the event that you lose your source of income. It ensures that you’ll be able to pay all of your must-pay expenses each month while you work to replace that lost income.
To calculate the number you’ll need, add together any regularly occurring expenses (rent, utilities, phone bill, internet, car payment, car insurance, etc.) plus the total for the things you need to survive (groceries, gas money, etc.). Then, multiply that by six to get the total number you’ll need in savings. If you want to set aside more, you absolutely can. This is just the bare minimum amount to aim for.
For example, say you pay $900 for rent, $100 for utilities, $60 for your phone, $40 for internet, $240 for your car insurance = $1340. Add $400 for groceries, $100 for gas money, and $150 for miscellaneous expenses = $650. That total is $1,990. Let’s round to $2,000 for convenience. For six months worth of expenses, that would be $12,000. To save $12,000 in five years, you’ll need to set aside $200 a month. If you can set aside more, you’ll reach that goal even faster.
If your lifestyle expenses increase, you’ll want to make sure to adjust these numbers accordingly so that you’re still covered as time goes on. Ultimately, you hope that you’ll never have to actually use this money but can have complete peace of mind knowing that it’s there for you in case you do need it.
Have you checked that off your list? Now’s the time to beef it up by saving nine months worth of expenses.
5. Roughly calculate how much money you’ll need in savings for retirement.
This can be super tricky. How can we even possibly know what we will want to do when we retire? Plus, when you look at retirement calculators, many of them base your retirement expenses based off of your current lifestyle and income. It’s really hard to say if that’s realistic or not. No one can predict the future, but we can do our best to be prepared.
Talk to your family members who are approaching retirement or are retired and ask them about their experience. What are they happy with? What would they have done differently? Also look at the cost of various options. Would you want to live in your own home? Go to senior center or assisted living facility? These are tough questions but important to think about before the time comes.
Once you have a handle on how much you’ll need per month or annually, it’s time to look into the best options for retirement. There’s not always a clear cut answer, though when it comes to saving money, when you’re in your 20s, time is on your side. See if stocks and mutual funds will be worth your effort or if your 401(k) or IRA is the way to go. Chances are it’s going to be a mix of the two.
A good idea is to take a retirement test run to see what it might be like for you. It also helps to plan to have all debt eliminated by then and have excellent health insurance.
Know your retirement plan already? Your next goal is to look into life insurance options.
And there we have it! Five achievable financial goals to reach by age 30. If you’re in your early to mid 20s, time is totally on your side right now. Make yourself a plan and get started as soon as possible. And if you’re approaching your late 20s, there is no time like the present to take control of your financial future.