Create savings goals, pay down debt, and more by the time you reach 30.
It’s easy to put off thinking about your money goals. But the sooner you can build up good financial habits, the easier it will be for you to sustain them—and the less stress you’ll have later when you’re dealing with potential bigger financial burdens like mortgages and child care.
Your 20s are actually a great time to begin financial planning and creating savings goals for yourself. Here are a few realistic financial goals to hit before you turn 30.
Create a Monthly Budget
The key to making sure that you always have enough money is to spend less money than you make, which means following a budget. The easiest way to make one is to keep track of everything that you earn and everything that you spend for a month.
If the expenses outpace your income, take a closer look to see whether there are areas where you can cut back. Then, when you’re tempted to make an impulse buy, consider whether it will fit into your budget.
Build an Emergency Fund
Aim to set aside at least three months’ worth of living expenses in a savings account that you can easily access in an emergency. That way, when your car breaks down or you lose your job, you don’t have to run up a credit card to make ends meet. An easy way to build an emergency fund is by using Smart Savings1 in Fifth Third’s mobile app to put aside small amounts each week.
Pay Off High-Interest Debt
If you’re carrying a credit card balance, paying if off should be a top priority. Allocate any extra funds each month to paying more than the minimum owed on your account—and put the card out of reach so that you’re not tempted to start spending beyond your means again.
Have a Plan for Your Student Loans
While student loans typically have lower rates than credit cards, they can still be a drag on your finances. Once you’ve paid off higher-interest debt, start chipping away at your student loan balance. If your monthly payments on federal student loans are too much, see whether you qualify for repayment programs that may lower your monthly nut.
Build Your Credit
Having good credit can help you qualify for lower-interest loans when you need them, and can even lower your insurance rates and make you look better to potential employers. If you don’t have much of a credit history, opening a credit card (and paying off the balance each month) can help you build one.
Start Saving for Retirement
It can be hard to motivate yourself to save for something that’s decades away, especially when you have spending needs now. However, thanks to compound interest, the money that you save for retirement now will be worth far more by the time you call it quits. The easiest way to get started is by participating in a workplace retirement account like a 401(k). The money will automatically come out of your paycheck, and you won’t have to pay taxes on it until you retire.
Even if you don’t hit every one of these goals by the time you reach your 30th birthday, simply making progress toward them is an achievement. By working toward these goals, you’ll build up the financial habits that can keep you on the path toward financial security for the rest of your life.
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