Financial Goals for Every Decade of Your Life
Becoming financially stable doesn’t happen overnight; rather, it’s an intentional process that takes a lot of time and planning to get on track. Setting goals for yourself and sticking to them is a great way to set yourself up for financial well-being throughout your life, from the start of your career through retirement and beyond.
Here are some ways to set yourself up for a comfortable financial future, no matter where you are in life.*
Financial education in your 20s
For most people, being in your 20s means getting your first taste of freedom—and your first dose of reality, too. Going from near-total dependence on your guardians to suddenly overseeing your own finances is a huge transition, and it can take a lot of trial and error before you know how to make the best financial decisions for yourself.
Becoming financially independent—and ideally, financially stable—requires you to spend a lot of time learning about how personal finances work. Here are some of the personal finance basics everyone should learn about in their 20s:
- Creating a realistic budget
- Taxes and write-offs
- Employer benefits and how you can use them to your advantage
- How credit works and how to deal with your debt
- Credit cards and their rewards/perks
- Costs associated with home ownership—not just mortgages!
These personal finance fundamentals lay the groundwork for a better financial future by arming you with the knowledge you need to navigate it.
Saving in your 30s
They say you should “live while you’re young”—and apparently a lot of Millennials have really taken that to heart. According to a Personal Capital study, 55% of Millennials say they spend more effort planning vacations than saving for retirement.
That attitude makes sense: living through several recessions and struggling with student debt while wages stagnate has made many Millennials feel that they’ll never be able to achieve the financial milestones of their parents’ generations.
Buying a house, retiring at 65 (if at all), and even having kids seem financially impossible for many members of this generation, so it’s easier for most to think only about the immediate future, not their golden years.
If you’re in your 30s, though, it’s still in your best interest to work hard at saving—even if you’re not saving for the same goals as your parents did at your age. There are several reasons you’ll want a backup plan in the form of a big financial cushion:
- Unexpected job loss
- Medical emergencies
- Economic turbulence
- Cost of living increases
Having a decent amount of savings can help you stay out of debt when your worst-case scenario strikes. You never know what life will throw at you, so it’s best to be prepared!
Planning ahead in your 40s
When you reach your 40s, you’re likely starting to think forward to your retirement years, getting a vague idea of what they might look like. What does your dream retirement include? Do you want to buy a house by the beach and spend your days in the sun? Do you want to be close to your future grandkids? What about traveling the world?
Your 40s are typically your peak earning years, so it’s a great time to start putting your money to work for you so you can reach your retirement goals.
Here are some common ways people build their liquid and illiquid funds up while they’re earning more:
- Consolidate any 401(k) accounts, take advantage of your employer's match, and contribute as much as you can
- Invest in the stock market, possibly with the help of a financial advisor or robo-advisor
- Open investment accounts designed for retirement
- Purchase an annuity
- Buy property
- Pay down debt as much as possible, especially unsecured debt
If you have kids, this is also a great time to start thinking about what your role will be in their financial future. Not only will you want to ensure that your kids have the knowledge they need to become fiscally responsible on their own, but you may find it fulfilling to give them a gift, if you’re able, as they start their adult lives. Looking into options for trusts and estates now is a great way to set your kids and even your grandkids up for a comfortable transition into adulthood.
Getting ready to retire in your 50s and 60s
In your 40s, you started to envision your dream retirement; your 50s and 60s are the best time to nail down exactly what that looks like and how you can make it happen. This is also a great time to really ramp up your savings and start checking in on your investments. You may even want to reevaluate how you invest by talking with your advisor about your plans.
Having a contingency plan is also crucial; the smartest way you can prepare for retirement is to expect the best but plan for the worst. While you may have your dream retirement mapped out, it’s important to consider the possibility of health problems or other unexpected expenses that force you to err from your plans.
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 70% of people who are 65 today are expected to need some form of long-term care in their remaining years—and 20% of 65-year-olds will need care for more than five years.
Taking care of your health is helpful, but not a guarantee, so you may want to consider purchasing a long-term care plan in case you need to spend time in a nursing facility or in in-home care. Locking in premiums while you’re younger could help you save money in the future.
Lastly, start having conversations with your loved ones—your partner, kids, siblings, and friends—about contingency plans during retirement. It might seem odd to address such difficult topics while you’re still young, but it’s helpful to set expectations now about what you’d like to do if you need care or financial assistance in the future.
Holding steady in your 70s and beyond
You’ve worked up to this moment your whole life—and now, you finally get to retire!
In your 70s and beyond, you’ll have ideally saved for most of your life so that you can enjoy stability in retirement. But there are still important steps you need to take to make sure you can get by without a regular paycheck. According to U.S. Census data, people are living longer thanks to modern medicine, so it’s crucial to understand how you can make your savings and investments last as long as possible.
As you get ready to retire, ask yourself how you’ll pay for the following expenses each month, and how much you’ll allocate to each:
- Mortgage or rent
- Insurance premiums
- Discretionary spending
Employer benefits like pensions or HSAs are helpful for covering some of these expenses, but not all employers offer them—and while you can apply for Medicare at 65, you may still be on the hook for some medical expenses, depending on your coverage. Looking into other forms of insurance could help you save.
Additionally, the way you withdraw from your retirement funds could affect how much you owe in taxes. Learning more about how your taxes will change in retirement can help you make informed decisions about your withdrawal plans.
Your dream retirement plans may account for your exciting early retirement years, but to maintain financial well-being through retirement, it’s important to consider that your savings may have to last you 30 years! Being realistic and keeping your finances steady will set you up for a stress-free retirement.
Feeling left behind?
Even if you’ve done everything right, life circumstances can still influence your ability to maintain financial security. Losing your job, going through a divorce, losing a loved one, or having children can all alter the path you’re on by impacting your finances—and often, these situations mean taking on debt.
If your debt has you feeling like you’re behind the pack, JG Wentworth could help you catch up. Our Debt Resolution Program has helped customers eliminate, on average, more than half of their unsecured debt, allowing them to pay their balances off completely in as little as 24-48 months!**
Call us today at (888) 505-1794 to speak to one of our Debt Specialists. They’ll help you evaluate your debt relief options and find a plan that works for you, so you can get back on track and reach your goals!
- Personal Capital. (2022, June 23). 5 ways the current financial climate is cooling consumers’ spending & saving. Daily Capital. Retrieved from https://www.personalcapital.com/blog/whitepapers/5-ways-the-current-financial-climate-is-cooling-consumers-spending-saving/
- Cussen, M. P. (2022, March 1). Money habits of the millennials. Investopedia. Retrieved from https://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/021914/money-habits-millennials.asp
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2017, August 25). Women's and Men's earnings by age in 2016. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2017/womens-and-mens-earnings-by-age-in-2016.htm
- What is a trust? Fidelity Investments. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.fidelity.com/life-events/estate-planning/trusts
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. (2020, February 18). How much care will you need? Administration for Community Living. Retrieved from https://acl.gov/ltc/basic-needs/how-much-care-will-you-need
- Medina, L., Sabo, S., & Vespa, J. (2020, February). Living longer: Historical and projected life expectancy in the United States, 1960 to 2060. United States Census Bureau. Retrieved from https://www.census.gov/library/publications/2020/demo/p25-1145.html