Money management strategies change throughout your life. And while sound spending and budgeting practices defy your age, it can be important to understand which kinds of strategies are most effective at different life stages. Each generation sets new benchmarks for what they expect at different ages, so thinking about this as purely what you should do in your 20s versus your 60s falls into classic traps of expectations, which can be the enemy of goal-setting.
Let’s face it: money is a part of our lives. Regardless of where you are in your life, it is important to shift your focus in terms of money management strategies depending on what you hope to achieve in the future––whether that is retirement, buying a home, or starting a business.
A good way to think about strategies is at critical points in your financial life. With that in mind, here are a few worth noting:
Entering the Workforce for the First Time
Do yourself a favor and make a budget to understand how and when you spend. Mitigating and paying down the debt you might have accrued with a student is important to do early and often. Start right after graduating if possible. Taking an employer up on a 401(k) is a great way to start saving for retirement as well.
Learning how to negotiate salary is an overlooked strategy for younger employees, as the process can be frightening. Even if your advancement doesn’t mean staying at the same job, then be sure to take your retirement accounts with you; these pay dividends because of compound interest over time. Speaking of retirement, take the time to work with a financial planner to think about what you want for your future.
Marriage or Living with a Partner
At this stage, update your will and financial beneficiaries. In addition, look into life insurance in order to assist your partner in the event of your death or hospitalization. Often, other insurance policies are positively affected by this change in life and save you money if you know when and where to look.
Buying a Home
Instead of chasing your dream home, consider something that won’t overextend your financial ecosystem. Insurance can mean the difference between losing your home in the event of a disaster or death, so amend accordingly. Remember, too, that home values don’t always trend up. Make sure you have enough invested in other areas that you can survive a real estate downturn.
Your will or estate plan should reflect your growing family, as should the naming of your beneficiaries in the event of your death. If you want to help with your children’s education in the future, save early and often––and make a plan. Passing along your financial goal-setting habits is important, so start relating those lessons to your children.
Make a plan well before retiring. Know your budget and understand how your investments inform it. You probably don’t need everything you had while you were building your life. Consider downsizing to a smaller home or moving to a community that better fits what you want at this stage of your life. As retirement comes with old age, it is important to understand your healthcare costs and how they might affect your finances. Again, prepare for the unknown.
The take-home message here is simple: plan, plan, and then plan some more. Having an eye on the future, regardless of your age, is paramount. Figure out what you want for your life, and then start laying the groundwork for retirement. Most of all, realize it is never too early or too late to start working on your finances.