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Money Milestones for Your 20s, 30s, and 40s

Teresa Arrigo, RICP®

Do you find yourself routinely having conversations with coworkers wishing you made more money so you could buy that 60-inch TV, take that trip to Fiji, or buy your dream house? You’re not alone; we all have goals and desires, most of which require us to dig into our pockets, or sometimes into our credit card’s pockets (if they had pants).

The problem is that most of the time our goals also don’t have pants, or more importantly, they don’t have legs. What I mean is we don’t give our goals the means to become a reality. The bigger problem is that most of us put off our financial goals until later in life and instead let our credit cards run wild and free.

So how do you give legs to your goals instead of your debt?

What’s the Plan?

A few weeks ago, Janet Walker wrote a blog called “Four Ways to Save for Retirement” (I highly recommend checking it out). In it, she stressed the importance of creating a plan and building good habits. At GenWealth, we believe that everyone should have a plan that is unique to them because we don’t all have the same goals, and we don’t all make the same salaries. Despite the income differences that may exist, nothing puts legs on your financial goals like a plan, especially a retirement plan, which is arguably the most important plan of all.

Build Your Foundation

Contrary to the common practice, our 20s through 40s are the times to make our big money moves. Many see their 50s as the time to start buckling down on retirement planning because that is typically our highest earning years and also when the kids are finally off the family budget. But let’s be honest, if you lacked the discipline to save and plan in your 20s, 30s, and 40s, what are the chances you’ll be a disciplined planner and saver in your 50s? Higher incomes only help if we know how to manage them.

Nothing delivers a knockout blow to your finances like bad habits, just ask heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson, who had to declare bankruptcy even though he made $300 million during his career. That’s why putting away 10% of your salary in a Roth IRA or a company 401k is a great goal in your 20s. It builds a habit of saving, and the math says you should be able to have your salary tucked away in savings by the time you hit the big 3-0. That is assuming you have been investing well and barring sustained economic downturns.

Make Your Money Work

When your 30s roll around, you can feel great about having a good nest egg, which should fuel you to keep the momentum going. Any free cash during this time should be used to pay off any remaining debt. While you’re doing that, you can bask in the glory of compound interest and watch your nest egg grow. Following the rule of 72 and using an 8% annual return, your money will double in 9 years. That makes it a squeeze to achieve a goal of 2 times your annual earnings, so maintaining your monthly contributions and increasing them once you have paid off debt are the best tools to get the job done.

Now What?

Finally, your 40s. You have paid off your debts, and your nest egg is now a nest treasury that’s enough to buy you a Ferrari. But because you’re smart, you just rent the Ferrari for a day and give it back before it needs an oil change which costs as much as your non-existent monthly mortgage payment. Your salary is growing, and you have no more debt, so now you can max out your retirement savings and get ready to see your friends that will be coming to you for advice in their 50s.

Don’t wait until your legs are tired from working and have little-to-no savings in the bank. Take the time today to put legs on your retirement goals!

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

The rule of 72 is a mathematical concept and does not guarantee investment results nor functions as a predictor of how an investment will perform. It is an approximation of the impact of a targeted rate of return. Investments are subject to fluctuating returns and there is no assurance that any investment will double in value.

Information mentioned above was a hypothetical example and is not representative of any specific situation. Your results will vary. The hypothetical rates of return used do not reflect the deduction of fees and charges inherent to investing.

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