So as I go into the last month of my 20’s, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on some of the choices I made during the last decade.
I made a lot of financial mistakes like:
- Going into credit card debt
- Overdrafting my account more than I can remember
- Financing a brand new car
- Getting a late start on investing
However, during the last 4 years of my 20’s, I’ve really been able to turn things around.
I mean I paid off $61,000 worth of debt in 16 months, hit a 6-figure net worth, then found a way to get my income into the 6-figures as well.
I figured some stuff out and so I want to take a minute to share some of the milestones I think are important to reach before your 30th birthday.
1. Become Consumer Debt Free
As I mentioned, this list is in no particular order, however, I can say that getting rid of your consumer debt would be near the top of the list if it were.
Consumer debt is basically everything you owe that isn’t a mortgage.
So that would be cars, credit cards, student loans, personal/payday loans, and any other reason you borrowed money
You should make it a priority to pay it as soon as possible in order to free up cash to invest.
It feels great getting paid and not having to use most of our money to pay for decisions we made years ago.
2. Become Financially Independent Of Your Parents
Relying on your parents financially can not only hinder your own growth, but it can also place tremendous strain on the relationship.
This is why you should aim to be completely independent of your parents financially before you turn 30.
This one actually happened for me four months after I turned 20. It was then that I decided to move into a 3 bedroom apartment with 2 of my sisters. Since then, I have never moved back home and never depended on my parents for anything financially.
I totally get needing help during a tough time. That happens. And there’s nothing wrong with taking or asking for help occasionally, but you shouldn’t be solely relying on any parental figures going into your 30’s.
3. Start Tithing Consistently
Being a faithful tither is important to me. I believe that my resources are actually owned by God and it’s my responsibility to manage them well and according to His word in scripture.
With that said, we give at least 10% of our income to our local church before we do anything else.
If you’re a Christian, this should be a priority of yours before you turn 30 as well.
4. Have A Clear Career Direction
Having at least a general idea of what field you’d like to work in should definitely be something you accomplish by 30.
It’s even better if you figured it out much sooner and have valuable experience and connections in that field before age 30.
This was big for me because I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life for the longest time.
Working in sales was something I enjoyed it and had a lot of growth opportunity with, however, that decision wasn’t always fully supported by family members.
At the end of the day, I continued to bet on myself and it has paid off tremendously.
5. Stop Overdrafting Your Account
Accidents happens sometimes. I totally get that.
But usually having an account that is always in overdraft is the result of poor budgeting and a lack of discipline. Those are 2 things, you should definitely have a handle on by age 30.
There’s not much worse than being charged money just for not having money. If that’s you, come up with a plan and get it together before you’re 30.
6. Save a 6-Month Emergency Fund
Once you’ve paid off your consumer debt, use that money to build up a 6-month emergency fund and keep it in an online savings account that pays you every month like this one.
The very first time I went into debt was to cover an emergency.
Having 6 months of expenses saved puts a gap between you and those type of life events.
With an emergency fund you don’t go into debt during a crisis.
Another benefit of having my own money saved is most of the things I used to consider a crisis I now view as just minor inconveniences.
7. Quit Taking Out Car Loans
Car loans are one of the worst financial products on the market. More often than not, you end up spending way more than you should when financing a car.
And to make matters worse, the car will usually be worth about half of what you paid for it within 2-3 years.
Within 6 months of paying my first car payment, I knew I never wanted to finance another car ever again.
Within 2 years of being married we had paid off both of our cars and have never financed another one.
As a matter of fact, when Hurricane Harvey took my wifes car, we went out and bought a 2 year old SUV for $16,000 cash that same month.
8. Master Your Open Enrollment Season
In my early 20s I hated open enrollment. I was always healthy and just found the entire process overwhelming and confusing.
Getting serious about your money means getting serious about everything that impacts your money. So once I learned that the number one leading cause of bankruptcy in America was medical bills, I knew I needed to learn as much as possible on health insurance.
One of the benefits was getting through my wife’s pregnancy only spending around $750.
You can learn more about health insurance in our Winning To Wealth course.
9. Stopped Paying Late Fees On Bills
By the time you’re 30, you should not be stressing about paying your bills on time.
I wish I had an idea of just how much I spent on late fees from age 20-25.
I’m sure it’s enough to fund one of my dream vacations. I mean it seemed like every single month I was robbing Peter to pay Paul.
Once I learned how to actually budget my money everything changed.
Now some things get paid a year in advance and late fees are a thing of the past.
10. Save Money In A Travel Fund
One of the most fun parts of actually having money is being able to travel and without the financial guilt.
Coming home after spending money on a vacation used to stress us out. Why? Because we were using credit cards and spending money we didn’t really have.
Now we can go on several vacations per year without worrying about how to pay our bills.
That’s made possible by saving a set amount every single month in an account specifically for vacations.
Being patient and saving your own money sure beats paying credit card interest for years on a vacation you couldn’t really enjoy to the fullest anyway.
11. Have More Than One Income Stream
Relying on your primary job to provide every penny you earn is risky business.
Even if you love your field, you should find other ways to generate income for yourself.
For example, you can write an e-book on a topic in your area of expertise and market it to newcomers of your field.
I started my financial coaching business back in 2017.
By the summer of 2018, I had stopped taking new clients because I had too many.
That summer, I also started working on the Winning To Wealth Course so that I could begin helping as many people as possible
I finished that and am now taking new members.
Also, this very blog you’re reading has started generating a little income each month as well.
So now the Winning To Wealth brand has 3 different revenue streams and is profitable. It feels awesome.
12. Build A Positive Net Worth
Your net worth is the greatest measurement of your financial health.
That’s why you should make it a focus to have a positive one before you turn 30 years old.
Your net worth is calculated by subtracting what you owe from the value of what you own. Meaning if the value of everything you own is $200k but you owe $210k, you have a net worth of -$10k.
Considering you should be consumer debt-free by age 30, there’s no reason for you not to have a positive net worth by that time as well.
13. Get Mortgage/Rent Less Than 30% Of Your Pay
This was a huge one for us.
We heard so many stories of people buying way too much house and didn’t want to fall into that trap ourselves.
We made the decision to buy a more affordable house over a fancy one because we know that the key to building wealth is increasing the gap between your income and your expenses with the largest expense for most families being their mortgage/rent.
Having a lower mortgage not only saves money in interest by allowing you to pay your house off sooner, but it also keeps your cashflow healthy and strong which allows you to consistent investments.
Same thing applies with rent. Don’t be house-poor in your 30’s. Keep that cost down and you can definitely win with money.
14. Build Financial Consistency In Your Marriage
If you’re married, you and your spouse should be on the same page with money by age 30.
And if you’re not married, you should be sure any potential spouse is willing to develop good money habits.
One of the things we fought about early in our marriage was our approach to money.
I wanted to throw everything at our debt. Taylor wanted to take things slower and enjoy life a little more.
We found a healthy compromise and now are in a much better place because of that consistency.
15. Able To Give Freely
I used to hate seeing a need and not being able to give without putting myself in a bad spot financially.
Since we paid off our debt and built a positive net worth, we have been able to give freely without ever expecting anything in return.
That’s honestly the best part of wealth-building to me..especially during times like Hurricane Harvey when needs were great throughout the city of Houston.
16. Enroll In Life Insurance
Listen to me: the life insurance at your job doesn’t count.
You could lose your job tomorrow and then your life the next week.
If that happened, how would your family replace your income?
That’s what a good term-life insurance policy does. I recommend having 10 times your annual salary for at least the next 25 years as you build wealth.
17. Save For Your Kids Future
So many times parents have these massive dreams of their kids running off to college and changing the world.
But they often forget one thing: somebody has to pay for it.
I never wanted our daughter to want to go to college and feel stressed about the finances, so we are proactive in saving for her future.
And even if she finds a passion and decides to skip college altogether, she’ll at least have a nice cushion to start with.
18. Have At Least 25k Saved For Retirement
I’ll admit it…we definitely got a little behind on our retirement savings in our early 20’s.
Now that we’ve paid off our debt, though, we’re able to contribute thousands of dollars per month towards our own futures as well.
If you’re in your 20s, you should definitely be focused on 2 things:
- Getting a head start on retirement savings
Don’t make your future harder than it has to be.
I go pretty in depth on the retirement options you have in the Winning To Wealth course.
19. Create & Follow A Monthly Spending Plan
A spending plan is not about restricting your fun. It’s just directing your money where you want it to go the next month.
My wife and I sit down once a month for about 20 minutes and talk about our finances.
We recap the previous month and then we plan what we are going to spend the next month.
Vacations, date nights, sporting events, and more get put in our spending plan along with our necessities.
You have a million options when it comes to budgeting. You can look for spreadsheets, software, or even apps on your phone like YNAB.
20. Have F-You Money
Back in 2015, I went from celebrating a record year at my job to being let go in a downsize in less than a month.
At the next job I had, the entire leadership team that hired me was let go and the new regime just absolutely sucked.
I was super miserable and it was starting to show in how I treated my friends and family which wasn’t cool.
One day, it hit me that we were debt free with 6 months of expenses in the bank. I knew I could find another job with my resume in 6 months, so I came home, typed up my resignation letter, and was done soon after that.
As our net worth has grown, I’ve been more willing to take risks at work. More willing to speak up. More willing to negotiate the things I want. And so much more.
Why? Because I know if I ever absolutely need to leave a job I can without worrying about the money. That’s F-You money.
21. Stop Comparing Your Life To Others
Okay I lied when I said I paying off debt would top the list.
This is the one right here.
We’ve saved so much money on our house, our cars, our clothes, and even our vacations by just minding our own business.
You never know what it took for someone to get what they got. So stop comparing what you don’t have to what they do and live your life.
This is definitely one to master by 30.
22. Save Cash For At Least 1 Large Purchase
Financial impatience almost always leads to interest payments.
It doesn’t matter how good the sale is…if you don’t have the money in your account, you can’t afford it. Period.
Take the time to actually save the money.
That means even that Black Friday sale is trash if you have to go into debt to participate.
Your patience will lead your savings to saving you.
23. Save A Home Maintenance Fund
Buying a house is EXPENSIVE.
Not only do you have property taxes, insurance, and interest if you financed, you also are responsible for maintaining the house.
Not preparing for routine maintenance costs is financially irresponsible.
Have a plan for when things go wrong in your house by age 30.
24. Knowing Your Spending Triggers
Do you compulsively spend money when you’re bored?
Or maybe your stress relief comes in the form of a trip to the mall.
It’s important to actually learn what triggers your impulse buys by the time you’re 30 years old.
25. Learned How Credit Works
As I already said, I now know that our net worth is a way better indicator of our financial health than our credit score.
There are 5 key factors that determine your credit score as shown below:
As you can see, not one deals with how much money you have or even your income. Crazy, right?!?
Now i’m not saying to trash your credit score. Not at all. If you owe money, you should pay it back.
With that said, don’t brag about a 750 credit score with only 750 dollars in your bank account.
Another thing you should know by 30 is where to find your credit report. You can get a free copy every 12 months here.
26. Abandoned The Scarcity Mentality
Growing up poor like I did, you tend to think that there’s only so much of everything.
As an adult, it went from concerns of there being only so much food in the house and trying to ration that to me thinking there was only so much money and I had to be more frugal than necessary.
For example, I used to buy the cheapest clothes I could find even though I knew the cost of replacing them frequently was more than just buying a quality item.
These days I’m not afraid to spend more on quality because I understand value is more important than price.
There are so many other ways the scarcity mentality affects your money. For example, you could hoard things because I mean you just never know when you might need them, right?
By age 30, you should be operating from an abundance mindset.
27. Give Back And Help Others
I absolutely love doing what I do.
I mean even on the really hard days there’s something just pulling at me to keep writing. To keep creating for social media. And to keep aiming to help and inspire so many more people on their path to financial wellness.
Before you turn 30, you should have found your own path to give back and help others.
Maybe it’s volunteering, Or it could be starting a business like I did. Whatever it is just jump into it and start serving others.
28. Get Comfortable Saying No
Being the first person in my family to do well financially came with this huge weight to support everybody.
Sometimes I would give even to my own detriment. I quickly realized that not only was I hurting myself, but I was hurting others by not teaching them better habits before I ever gave.
That’s not to say I won’t help at all anymore, but I’m definitely more aware of whether my giving helps or enables.
I’ve become a lot more comfortable saying no because of that as well. I never want to be a stumbling block in someone’s race to meet their full potential.
By 30, you should have that type of discernment and be able to say no.
29. Contribute to Brokerage Accounts For Non-Retirement Investing
By age 30, you should definitely have more than just an average savings account.
Your money needs to be working for you.
If you’re ready to get started, but don’t feel confident, you can always check out the Winning To Wealth course where I created an entire section on investing.
30. Understand The Basics Of Tax Laws
Do you know which tax bracket you’re in?
Have you developed a basic understanding of how the tax laws in your country works?
Do you know how you can legally minimize your tax bill so that you keep more of your money and make it work for your future?
By age 30, you should have at least a basic understanding of these 3 things.
What If I’m Over 30 Already?
If you’re already at 30 or getting pretty close to it, you should still aim to have these goals hit as quickly as possible.
As with most good financial decisions, the sooner you make it happen the better.
Did I miss any financial goals you may have hit in your 20’s?
Let me know in the comments if so.