In personal finance, many analogies are made to fitness and working out. In developing these generational money tips, we came up with another one. If you get into the habit of working out when you're young, it's a lot easier to maintain those good habits later on in life. Similarly, one of the most beneficial components to finding success with your money, is to start early and develop smart habits sooner rather than later.
So the first tip...
is for all of us, regardless of what generation we're in. Start yesterday! That's probably nothing you haven't heard before but whether you chose to put this piece of advice into action is what make a difference - no surprise, right?
Even if you're in a paycheck to paycheck situation, there are little ways (many of which involve the help of free financial apps) to slowly begin to develop smarter money habits. As they say, where there's a will, there's a way.
While all of these tips can be applied in your 20s, we've broken them out to provide you with additional focus and narrow in on the top things you should be paying attention to decade by decade.
IN YOUR 20s...
BUILD YOUR EMERGENCY FUND
-3 months worth of fixed expenses must be set aside before you can start to make your money work harder for you.
-Conventional finance wisdom says 6 months, we say 3. H.E.N.R.Y.s™ are HUSTLERS, this is your FIRST line of defense, not your only line of defense.
-Not having an emergency fund is a sure fire way to end up in debt.
GET A CREDIT CARD
-Don't think of credit cards as free money. Think of them as a smarter way to spend the money that you already have.
-Use your credit card as if it's a debit card that debits once a month (when you pay the bill in full and on time).
-Paying your credit card off more frequently, helps to build your credit score. Instead of paying it off once a month, pay it off every week or every other week #ficohack
-If you don't trust yourself to spend less than you should, use a free tool like Debitize that can help you stay accountable with using your credit card.
PRIORITIZE ANNIHILATING YOUR DEBT
-Work up to 20% of your net paycheck going toward paying down student loans and credit card debt.
-Lower your interest rate by looking into refinancing. If you use this link to refinance, SoFi will deposit $300 into your checking account. We pass on the entire referral fee to you!
-With your debt paid off or under control, you can start working towards more fun goals.
IN YOUR 30s...
START THINKING ABOUT YOUR GOALS
As you probably figured out in your 20s, saving for the sake of saving doesn’t work. If you don’t tie your savings to a goal, you’re just going to move your "savings" back into your checking account and use it to pay bills. Save with goals in mind. What are you saving for? A down payment? A safari? A new couch? Whatever it is, set up a separate savings account for each goal and NICKNAME EACH ACCOUNT!
MAX OUT FREE MONEY
If you aren’t already maxing your employer match, you’re leaving free money on the table. If your situation is too tight to be putting away more, that’s fine, but don’t leave any free money on the table.
Ex. A 30-year old making $60k and stashing 3% into a 401(k) can grow to be around $310,000.
If our employer matches 100% of that 3%...you’re now looking at around $620,000!!!
IN YOUR 40s...
HAVE DIFFICULT CONVERSATIONS WITH YOUR PARENTS
Have they planned enough for retirement? Have they updated their estate plan? Have they refreshed their will (to include grandkids…) etc.?
As the quote goes, "the best time to plan is before you need a plan". You don’t want to be caught off guard. A lot of our clients use the Stash Plan® as an excuse to bring up these sometimes awkward conversations.
WORK WITH A PROFESSIONAL
At this point in life, you’re probably going to want to seek professional guidance because you probably have a bit of catching up to do.
And to that end, the same way some of us need a personal trainer to help us stay accountable to our fitness goals, some of us may need a money trainer to help us stay accountable to our finance goals. When you're in your 40s, you don't have time to waste so hiring a professional to help you get and stay on track can be a smart investment.
Recently we sat down with the crew at SiriusXm's Wake Up With Taylor show to discuss our top money by the decade. Click here to listen.