When Bridget from Money After Graduation shared an awesome list of financial milestones you should hit by the time you hit age 30, I knew I wanted to see how I measured up even though I’m only 24. It’s a bit of a long list but totally worth going through because it’s really comprehensive.
Let’s see how I measure up.
1. Financially independent of your parents.
Check! Besides taking money for our wedding last year (which both my husband and I were so thankful to receive), we’re not dependent on our parents regular cash infusions.
2. Debt free.
Check! I’ve been happily debt free since last November, and it feels great! I might not be debt free forever (things like continuing education or replacing my car might put me temporarily in the red) but I fully intend to keep debt from ever becoming a permanent fixture in my life again.
3. Out of overdraft.
Check! I occasionally go into overdraft when I forget that there’s an unexpected bill coming out of my chequing account, but it’s definitely not a regular occurance.
4. Established good credit history.
Check! I pulled my credit report in January, as part of my goals for the year, and I don’t wanna brag, but it’s looking pretty good. I’ve been careful about paying my bills on time since I got my first credit card at 19.
5. Have $25,000+ saved for retirement.
I’m only 24, so I’m not going to feel to bad having only $2,956 in my retirement account. But will I hit this milestone by the time I’m 30? Since my husband and I have combined finances, I’d say that we need $50,000 in savings to really hit this goal. According to my calculations, if I slowly ramp up my monthly retirement savings as my husband and I make more money, and we achieve a modest 6% return, we’ll have enough in our retirement accounts to beat this goal and then some. Woot!
6. Started an investment portfolio.
Check! I started investing in Tangerine Streetwise funds in December, but I haven’t made the leap into more active investing. I’m ok with my selections for now, and I probably won’t bother getting into anything more complicated until I have a portfolio bigger than $25,000. I’m definitely beyond a simple savings account though!
7. Established an emergency fund.
Check! I’m sooo close to having a fully funded emergency fund I can taste it! Only $600 more to go before I’ve got a $10,000 emergency fund. I can’t recommend getting one enough, they are awesome!
8. Properly insured.
Half check? I have health and disability insurance, but I could probably stand to bulk up the disability insurance a bit, since it’s only the standard one year that is offered by my employer.
9. Maximizing employer benefits.
Check! I definitely take advantage of everything my employer offers in the way of benefits. There is no company matching or any of that good stuff, but there is some decent health insurance including massage therapy, which I take full advantage of.
10. In the habit of tracking your spending.
Check! I’ve been tracking my spending for over two years, and I can’t imagine not logging into my Mint.com account daily to check on my balances.
11. Done with impulse purchases.
I can’t remember the last time I bought something on impulse so I think this is a check? I manage this by avoiding malls and department stores like the plague – out of sight, out of mind.
12. Willing to spend where it counts.
Check! I’m a pretty frugal person, but there are a few places that I’m willing to spend the cash, like on car repairs and decent running shoes. I also don’t skimp on vet care for my pets, because I love those guys!
13. In the habit of regularly checking your credit report.
This is a recent check. I finally pulled my credit report in January, and I’m resolving to make this at least a yearly occurrence.
14. On top or ahead of all your monthly bills.
Check! Although it took me longer than I’d like to admit to get into the habit of paying my cell phone bill on time, I’m finally on this wagon. I recently switched up my credit card routine too and I’m happy to report that paying it off once a month has been working out well.
15. At least one big splurge you saved up for and paid in full with cash.
Check! Last summer my husband and I got married, and paid for it in cash! We relied on family in a big way to help us make our wedding a frugal success, but we did fork over several thousand of our own hard earned cash to pay for it as well. It was totally worth it!
16. An understanding of personal income taxes and how to minimize what you pay.
This definitely isn’t a check just yet. I know about income tax, but I’m not sure I’m doing everything to minimize my tax burden just yet. I should do more research into this!
17. Diligently saving for a big purchase.
Check! My husband and I are planning a big trip this year, and it’s looking like it’s going to be Paris. We’re really excited for it – and we’re saving diligently.
18. A clear direction of your career.
I’m not quite sure where my career is going to take me just yet, so this isn’t a check. I think I still need to grow into my role more before I make a firm decision on where my career is going. There’s a good chance that I’ll have to go back to school to give myself a clearer picture of where I’m headed. After all, the more credentials I have, the easier it will be to get into a high paying career that will last for the rest of my working life. Maybe I’ll earn a Graduate Certificate in Project Monitoring and Evaluation, as this program is only four courses in length, but would give me the ability to work in project management in a variety of different fields. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that being flexible can open up new career doors in the future.
19. A profitable side income.
Check! I make money side hustling by staff writing and through this blog. I make a decent amount of cash every month, enough to boost my savings goals nicely.
20. A positive, growing net worth.
Check! Last month my net worth grew by 23%, and I’m definitely in the positive!
21. A BHAG for your finances.
I don’t have a dream of being a millionaire, or buying a house in cash, or anything like that, but I would like to buy an electric car in cash one day. I wouldn’t call that a BHAG because I’m not hell bent on achieving that goal, would be nice though, to be free of rising gas costs.
22. An understanding and a plan of how your money will deliver the lifestyle you want.
Check! I’m so over spending money on things that I don’t need, or don’t value. I don’t care about nice furniture or expensive clothes, so I don’t spend money on those things. In contrast, I care very much about financial security and a large emergency fund, so that is where I put my money instead. I want to have enough money to take leaps of faith without fear, that’s the lifestyle I want.
23. So over measuring your finances against that of your friends.
I still do this sometimes. I know it’s bad and that I shouldn’t, but I do. Especially when it comes to incomes. I get a little green with envy when I see the salaries some of my friends make (even though they deserve it more than me!). This is a horrible habit and just makes me bitter and sad, I need to stop doing this.
24. Less consumption-oriented.
Check! Living in a 400 square foot cottage really taught me a thing or two about consumption, and how unnecessary it is. Now, I don’t need to have stuff around to be happy – I just need to be comfortable. It’s so freeing.
25. A healthy relationship with credit cards.
Check! This is another embarrassingly late accomplishment of mine. I didn’t have the best relationship with my credit cards while I was paying off debt. I would sometimes charge things and then forget about them, resulting in a mystery balance at the end of the month and no cash to pay it off. Thankfully, this hasn’t been a problem for many months now, and I’m happy to report I pay my card off at the end of every month.
26. A regular contribution to charity.
I don’t do this. I should. I used to, before I had debt, but it was one of the things I cut when I went on my expense cutting rampage. I should definitely look into starting another regular contribution, every bit helps!
27. If you’re part of a couple, a healthy way of sharing money with your partner.
Check! My husband and I might have different money attitudes, but we don’t let that stop us from having completely combined finances. It’s not always easy, but we make it work.
28. A commitment to putting free or cheap before convenient.
I definitely place a pretty strong emphasis on free, which you’ll notice if you look at the furniture in my house. That said, sometimes I still go for the convenience foods at lunch time because I didn’t have the foresight to pack a decent lunch, etc. I still need to work on this!
29. Done paying unnecessary fees.
Nope. I still bank with Scotiabank for my personal banking needs. I’ve been meaning with close my savings account there and just keep a modest chequing account, and do the majority of my banking with Tangerine, but I haven’t quite gotten around to it.
30. An understanding and appreciation for the reality that money is only a tool of exchange, and not worth obsessing over.
Check! When I was paying off my debt, I absolutely obsessed over my money. I’d check my Mint.com account every day, I’d obsess over the smallest details in my budget, and my debt repayment spreadsheet was basically perpetually open. Now that I’m debt free though, I’ve chilled out about my money a lot. I still have a plan, I still track my spending and I still stick to a budget, but I definitely don’t obsess anymore. I’m glad about this – it wasn’t healthy!
Overall I scored 22 out of 30. Not bad! What’s your score?