I'm currently sitting in a situation that a lot of Millennials hoped would never come. I just turned 29, and am wondering how in the world this horrible thing happened to me.
As I understand it, turning 30 means you might as well be 50, which essentially means that I might as well just start planning my funeral.
In all seriousness, being almost 30 sucks.
Alright alright just kidding, it's really not that bad.
I do think that one of the interesting side-effects of getting closer to the end of your twenties is that you start to think about what you've accomplished so far as an adult, where you're going, and if you're even on track with wherever you're “supposed” to be.
Here are 5 Financial Goals that Millennials should accomplish before hitting the dreaded 30:
1. You have a handle on your student loans or any other debt
Notice I used “have a handle on” instead of “paid off”. After talking to hundreds and hundreds of people about their various types of debt, the reality is that paying them off before 30 isn't a realistic option for most.
Every Millennial had different financial and life situations in their twenties and took different paths. I've talked to people with no student loans but tons of medical bills, people with $200,000+ in student loan debt, and people that graduated college debt free but got mixed up with credit card debt or car loans.
Whether you are looking at refinancing (Credible is the only company I trust for checking for lower interest rates), throwing extra money at your loans, or just trying your best to manage them, it's a major win if you just have a plan for how you are going to deal with your debt moving forward.
2. You've started to surround yourself with the right people
I don't know if it's the same thing for everyone else, but my idea of having a good time has slowly shifted from staying out late and hanging out with friends to sitting my old-ish butt at home, relaxing, and trying to go to bed earlier.
In addition to that, hopefully, you are surgically removing negative people and financial influences from your life. One thing I've learned is that there are a lot of humans out there, and you aren't forced to keep associating with low-quality ones like you were in high school and college.
You need to find mentors and friends that are excited about being great at personal finance. Find people that actually want to talk about money instead of keeping it taboo. Believe it or not, there are plenty of them out there (The M$M private Facebook group is a great place to start).
I've met a lot of wealthy people in life and through my work on this site so far, and the common denominator is that they are just as picky about the people they associate with as they are with their investment decisions.
3. You have a budget
Straight-up, there isn't a reason that you shouldn't have a budget at this point. There are so many good apps and free tools out there now to help you get a handle on your money that it just doesn't make sense to not have anything.
Also, the excuse of “I don't have time” just doesn't cut it in 2017 when we all have mini-supercomputers in our pockets.
If you aren't tracking the money coming in and out of your bank accounts right now and don't do anything else on this list, at least do this.
4. You understand and are tracking your net worth (even if it's negative)
This is slightly more complex than budgeting, but it's not that bad. Your net worth is just a very simple equation of assets – liabilities = net worth.
The reason it's so important to keep track of your net worth is simple: It's a picture of your overall financial health. Understanding what your net worth looks like can help you plan for the future and *maybe* give you the kick in the butt you've needed to get it in gear.
If you calculate your net worth and find out that it's negative, it's not the end of the world. What you have to understand above all else is that personal finance isn't a sprint. It's an ultramarathon, and there isn't a real finish line other than death (which with my looming 30th birthday is getting closer and closer).
5. You're thinking about how you want to retire
I remember when I was 23 and just starting my teaching career, the last thing I ever cared about was retirement. I paid directly into the “Teacher Retirement System” in Texas. It came out of my check automatically, and there were no options for how the money was handled.
When I left my job to run this site, I took that money out as soon as possible and rolled it into a retirement account so I could have control of my own destiny (and get better than “guaranteed 2% returns”…but that's for another post).
Even though my business is thriving and I'm ultra-focused on sustained growth, I'm also looking at the end goal.
It doesn't really matter if you want to go the FIRE (Financially Independent Retired Early) route, or take a more traditional retirement path and slow down in your sixties.
The key is creating a tax-advantaged strategy that will allow you to retire the way you want to with dignity.
*BONUS* Start a Side Hustle
How much easier would it be if you had an extra $1,000 – $2,000 per month coming in from a small side hustle? You could pay off debt sooner, bulk up your emergency savings, or even use the cash to take an extra vacation without having to put it on a credit card.
There are a lot of side hustle options out there, but running FB ads for local businesses is my top side hustle recommendation right now.
You can charge great money per client, do all of the work from home, and most importantly – the barrier to entry is low for beginners.
Getting closer to 30 isn't really that bad…
Other than not seeing as well, running as fast, or jumping as high, it's totally the same as being 20.