Milestones. Goals. Things to do before you die. Call them what you like, we all have a to-do list of some sort. For most of us however this list usually contains items like snog Anna Kendrick and eat McDonalds for one month straight.
But money and your relationship with it should have a list of milestones of their own. This could be the most important list you ever make because it could see you maintaining the lifestyle to which you’ve become accustomed well into your old age.
As you sit down to write this list it’s also important that you’re aware of how you’re doing and what you’re shooting for. Kind of a “what should things look like when I hit 30, 40, 69 etc?”
Stage 1: Varsity days = start thinking about retirement
Now this might feel counter-intuitive, but it makes complete sense. Retirement is the last thing on the mind of a Uni student who hasn’t even decided how they’re going to make their millions, let alone where they’re going to start saving them. But it should be the first thing on your mind,and like,right now.
The sooner you start saving, the bigger that egg will be when it comes to hanging up your dancing shoes and start cracking it. 10% today will mean you won’t have to put away 30% tomorrow.
Stage 2: First job = set some financial goals
As soon as you start earning a little bit of cash, the urge is there to go out and spend it asap. Good idea. But also, bad idea. Time to be responsible. Your dad would be proud.
Sit down, give yourself a stern talking to and start deciding what you’ve got planned in the next 40 years. Do you want to buy a house? How many kids do you want to have? Will anyone love you enough to even agree to that? You know? The important things.
Once you’ve got a plan with some very specific time frames, you’re in a much better financial position than if your plan involves road tripping around Europe until your money runs out. Do that. We insist. But make sure you’ve got a plan.
Stage 3: Getting married = Have an emergency fund
So he finally popped the question and she actually said yes. Proud of you both.
You’ve got a lot coming your way. And you don’t know what it is or when it’ll happen. So time to start putting away some “in case the unexpected happens” money.
This rainy day fund is for just that: a rainy day. Bad health, an unfortunate accident, act of God. Whatever it is, have some money tucked away. And please don’t tuck it away on top of the fridge. Any financial institution worth its weight in FICA regulations has a decent fund for you to save into.
Stage 4: Buying things = get out of debt
Oooh. Look at you, putting an offer in on a house and dusting off your old suit to meet the bank manager about that small business loan. Wouldn’t your siblings laugh at you now?
In life, you’re going to want money from people. But they’re not going to give you any if you already owe a bunch of money to a bunch of other people. So, at the risk of getting political, pay back the money.
Student debt, clothing accounts, your mate Jojo who proved she can fit both her fists in her mouth. Give it all back and wipe the slate clean. An exemplary credit rating is like having “no arrests” on your record. Priceless.
Stage 5: Having kids = get life cover
You’ve got what grown-ups call “dependents” now, and in the event that something happens to you, you’re going to want to make sure that they are taken care of financially. The right life cover policy will do that.