For many of us, the American Dream is all about creating financial stability through what we all hope will be a successful enough career to warrant an early retirement; and of course, the earlier the better. When it comes to realistically planning for the future, however, your late 20’s can be a very interesting time – personally, professionally, and financially.
Not only are you further removed from the antics of college and squandering paychecks; 30 is staring you right in the face, and it’s suddenly holding you accountable for where you’re at in life. The time is also creeping closer and closer for taking the next step with relationships, houses, babies, and every other part of growing up that can make you quickly feel old.
Most importantly, though, is the fact that for many of us, our late 20’s represents a time when we are finally in a steady occupation and earning decent enough money to start looking towards the future. That is why it is so important to prepare and be in the right position to take advantage of that moment; here are two ways to initially place yourself on the proper path to financial security:
- Properly Leverage the Resources around You- Whether it’s as simple as sitting down with your recently retired parents who can help outline best practices or looking into additional retirement options with your office’s HR Department, you are doing yourself a significant disservice if you aren’t utilizing every resource around you on your quest to gain financial security. Often, your friends and family have already gone through life’s major events- houses, weddings, babies, etc; so why wouldn’t you learn from not only their successes, but from their mistakes too? This practice should start when you are about to graduate college as you can pick up a lot from your friends in terms of how to find a job, begin paying off debt, and establishing a savings account. From there, work with your employer to learn all that they offer from a retirement fund perspective. Businesses will often even match a certain percentage of your paycheck if it is allocated to your 401k; you’d be a fool not to take advantage of that free money by contributing the maximum that they’ll match. As you get older, pay attention to the changing landscape of financial opportunities that come your way; be ready for AARP and embrace Senior Discounts whenever possible. Seek professional assistance and know your finances/assets! Remember, you simply can’t retire, early or not, without first learning how to do so; not in the broad sense, but for your specific situation.
- Stay On Track Through Short Term Goals – It can be very easy to get lost and, therefore, frustrated in solely establishing long term goals for yourself, especially in areas of your life that are considered high stakes for the future. Experts suggest that providing yourself with quick goals that offer success early and often can go a long way in getting you in the right groove of practicing sound financial activity. For example, rather than just a broad goal of retiring by 40, create a series of smaller goals that can act as both checkpoints for maintaining progress as well as milestone moments for celebrating achievement. Your first goal should b a simple one- get a full time job. From there, your next goals can be paying off half of your student loan debt by 25; all of it by time you’re 30. While striving towards loan freedom, you could also establish a string of professional and personal goals to match up where you plan on being at that point in your life. For example, at 25, secure a management position; by 30 save enough to buy a ring and get married. The point is, your goals are going to change from time to time as your life does; so although it is great to have an end-game (i.e. the broad sense of “early retirement”), you need to create a set of firm short term goals to help lead you there. It is way too easy to get lost in something that always feels like a distant dream; knocking down these goals one by one will help you build momentum and gain the confidence needed to ultimately succeed.