Financial Milestones for Twenty-Somethings
Several bloggers have been posting a list of financial milestones for those in their twenties. I’ve decided to jump on the bandwagon to see how many I can cross off the checklist.
- Finance a dream vacation in cash–I’ve paid for a vacation in cash but it was with a bunch of college friends right before graduation. I don’t think sharing a three bedroom condo in Panama City, FL with nine other people qualifies as a dream vacation so I’m not going to count it. Currently my husband and I are half-heartedly saving money for a delayed honeymoon
- Pay off your student loans–I didn’t have to take out any student loans thanks to the generosity of the Kentucky state government and the alumni at my school. Check!
- Automate paying your credit cards in full–I always pay my credit cards in full. Check!
- Get rid of all bad debt–I’ve never taken on any bad debt. Check!
- Build an adequate emergency fund–I worked pretty hard to build up a $5000 emergency fund, but as soon as I accomplished my goal, circumstances changed and now the new goal is $7000. I’m still going to count this, since $5000 was adequate at one point. Check!
- Max out a Roth and contribute to your 401(k)–I contribute to my Roth IRA but I’m no where close to maxing it out. My employer does not offer any retirement accounts since the company is relatively new and very small.
- Get a degree that increases your earning power–I got a bachelors degree in biology last year, which is pretty useless where I live unless you have an advance degree. I plan on going to graduate school soon for a counseling degree, but I doubt that will increase my earning power much.
- Make your first and last investment mistake–I made a pretty big investment mistake and I definitely suffered the consequence. When my sister decided to go to the same college as me, my parents thought it would be a great idea to get a condo for us. They had just moved and bought a new house so they didn’t have enough cash on hand for the down payment. They pitched the idea that my sister, parents, and I split the down payment with promise that we would split the profits when we sell it. We ended up buying a condo (I didn’t see it before they made an offer) in a building that was falling apart with a third of the owners delinquent on their HOA fees. My parents didn’t see the need to do an inspection, since the exterior parts of the building was the condo association’s responsibility to fix. Unfortunately, they forgot that as owners, we would be part of the condo association and with a building needing extensive repairs, our HOA fee will increase. So there’s a ton of extra expenses that my sister and I have to pay for since my parents consider us “shareholders” on the property even though neither one of our names are on the property. I did not expect that I would be responsible for these costs, since it was not discussed before hand. Also, my parents have been using the $12,000 I contributed to the down payment as leverage to try to control me (see #11). At this point I don’t know if I will see any of that money again. I definitely learned that I shouldn’t be too trusting of anyone trying to push me into partnering with them on an investment, and that family and investing don’t necessarily mix well. I should have done my research and not passively agree with my parents investment “advise.” Hopefully this would be the last investment mistake I make. Check!
- Develop a statement of cash flow—Check!
- Take a career risk–I was part of a program at my university that saves you a seat at its medical school (in effort to keep good students from going out of state for college) provided that you maintain halfway decent grades, get a respectable MCAT score, and don’t get arrested. Students apply to the program during their last year of high school, and this program pretty much eliminates 99% of the stress that comes with being a pre-med student (I avoided hanging out with my pre-med classmates since they would hate me if they found out that I was in the program). During my last year as an undergraduate student, I realized that I wanted become a doctor because my family expected me to. I learned that no matter how much money and prestige a career in medicine would bring, I would never find happiness living a script that someone else has written for me. It was not a decision I took lightly since my choice heavily strained my relationship with my parents. By walking away, I now have a chance pursue a career that will fulfill me (I know that doctors can have a fulfilling career, but being a doctor won’t fulfill ME). Check!
- Negotiate something–My wedding photographer charges an extra $200 for out-of-town weddings. I got her to shave off $100. I still went $100 over my photography budget, but the pictures she took was worth going over budget. Check!
- Earn your first side grand–I babysit about twice a month, but I don’t think I’ve made even close to a grand after three years.
- Start a sub-savings account for an upcoming goal–I don’t have a specific savings account at a bank for my targeted goals, but I keep track of everything on a spreadsheet. Check!
- Set a target retirement date–Definitely have not done this yet.
- Monitor your credit–I always get the free annual credit reports. Check!
- Say no to a financial salesman–I don’t think I’ve been approached by one yet nor have I sought one out.
- Give just enough to make it hurt–I’m not 100% sure if this counts since I’m not sure if giving up a honeymoon actually “hurts.” Before the wedding, my husband and I were saving money for a honeymoon when a really bad tornado hit in March. A family at my church was hit pretty hard. The tornado ripped the house off its foundation and carried it hundreds of yards. The father broke 19 ribs and jaw. The mother shattered her pelvis, broke her shoulder, and had a collapsed lung. One of the children broke his back, and another had a bruise liver and a seizure from a concussion. Between the medical bills, loss of their house and possessions, and lost work time, they definitely needed help and support. The only extra money we had at the time was our honeymoon savings, and we felt the family needed that money a lot more than we did, so we gave it away. I don’t normally donate that much for natural disasters, but I knew who was directly benefiting from the money. The only “inconvenience” for me is that I will spend another year saving for my honeymoon, and I don’t regret it. Check!
- Save a dollar for every dollar you spend–I still have a long way to go. Depending on the month, I save between $0.10-$0.20 for every dollar I spend.
- Start a 529 college savings plan–I don’t see a point in starting one if you don’t have kids, and I don’t plan on having kids until my husband graduates from dental school.
- Buy a house–I won’t be doing this for awhile.
I’ve complete 11/20 milestones, which I guess is okay for a 23 year old.
Check out the progress of other twenty-something PF bloggers: