15 Financial Milestones You Should Achieve by 30
As the famous expression goes “life really begins at 30”, individuals who are about to hit their 30 are approaching that time in their life where they may be facing huge financial milestones such as marriage, children, and buying a new home. By the time you reach 30, your attitude towards money should have matured, tempered by past mistakes and informed by new responsibilities.
You find yourself no longer able to get away with being financially clueless anymore. Here are 15 financial milestones that every 30-year-olds should have achieved:
1. Career direction
Many of us started our career in a trial-and-error manner. However, as we hit the big 3-0, we should have a general idea of where our career is heading. If you find yourself hating the job you are doing now, this will be the perfect time to re-evaluate your career goals and direction. ‘
Knowing the general direction of your career can help you greatly in climbing up the career ladder, which will result in better earning power. However, it is also important to understand that nothing in life is set on stone. You may decide to switch things up a few years down the road — and that is perfectly fine too.
The idea is to use the experiences you’ve gained in your career to establish yourself in the industry of your choice.
2. Live within your means
There will come a point where you’ll ask yourself: How much money is enough, what type of lifestyle I aspire to live, and how to bridge the gap for both.
For instance, if you only see yourself dining in fancy restaurants every meal and driving luxury cars in your 30’s, you ought to find a way to sustain that lifestyle.
Likewise, if you don’t want to see yourself drenched deep in debts and perpetually on the brink of bankruptcy, you should downsize your lifestyle to what’s within your means.
Take a reality check to learn if the lifestyle you want is financially feasible, and avoid inflating your lifestyle to beyond your means and end up with a big fat debt.
3. Get out of debt
Being in your 30’s means you should be financially more stable than before, and is able to start saving for your future. However, for most people they are unable to move beyond their past due to heavy debts that are pulling them back.
Make sure your debt repayment strategy is already in effect. However, if it’s not, it’s never too late to make a plan now.
4. Know your parents’ financial standing
In an ideal world, everyone should have their retirement plan in place when they hit retirement. However, that’s not the case for everyone.
If your parents are not financially prepared for retirement, they may be dependent on you now that they have stopped working. Know where they stand financially, and what you can afford to provide. It’s not an easy discussion, but it’s something you need to iron out with your parents — the earlier, the better.
5. Negotiating a better salary
Whether it’s a raise or a new position, you should be confident enough in selling your skills and asking for what you are worth.
When spending less and saving more no longer help, the only way to keep up with the rising cost of living is to grow your income. Start with your main income — your job!
6. Financially independent
By the age of 30, you should be financially independent of your parents, settled well into your career and able to support yourself financially. Your job is your major financial asset and the one that generates the most income for you. The most important thing is that you have started establishing yourself.
7. Good credit history
Credit is easy to get and easy to abuse. This can be achieved by living within your means, and not depending solely on credit. A solid credit history on the Central Credit Reference Information System (CCRIS) will not only help you with getting a loan for big purchases like a home, but also show that you pay your bills on time and do not live at the limit of your plastics.
8. Kick-starting your retirement savings
Ideally, every 25-year-old should be saving one-third of their salary every month to save enough for their retirement nest. However, if you find yourself without a retirement plan at 30, it is never too late to start. First, determine how much you need to retire comfortably, taking inflation into account.
You should have two-third of your last drawn income every month after retirement if you don’t want to downgrade your lifestyle post-employment. Start saving now and increase your contributions when your income rises or when you have achieved more of your short-term financial goals.
9. Becoming an investor
Your idea of saving and investing should be beyond a basic savings account. Although you may have not accumulated wealth for rather big investments, you could very well invest in a unit trust or buy stocks with just RM1,000.
As time and circumstances change, your financial needs might change as well. Therefore, it is important for you to learn to rebalance and readjust the allocation of your investments as and when necessary to accommodate the changes in your financial needs and attitude towards investment risks.
10. Establish emergency funds
The general rule is to have enough emergency fund stashed to cover six to 12 months of your monthly expenses. This fund will be useful in covering up monthly expenses and debt repayments in case of unforeseen circumstances such as loss of job. If you are earning RM4,000 a month, then you should set a target to have a minimum of RM24,000 in your emergency fund.
11. Adequately insured
Part of being a responsible adult is financially protecting yourself, and that includes obtaining the suitable insurance that you will need – life insurance, medical or health insurance, and personal accident insurance.
12. Having a budget
Having a budget help you to keep your strategy in mind in order to achieve your financial goals. Be it getting married in two years or buying your first home next year, without a clear plan, your chances of achieving your goals is slim.
Financially, we cannot live as if today was our last day. We have to decide between what we spend today and what we spend in the future. Finding the correct balance is an important first step toward achieving financial security.
13. Know your net worth
Everyone has a net worth and you need to be aware of your because it is the easiest way to get a big picture perspective on your finances. Your net worth is the total of your assets (bank account balances, savings, investments, etc.) minus your debts (loans, mortgage, credit card debt, etc.).
At the age of 30, your net worth should be a positive number – at a growing capacity.
14. Understand personal income tax
Understanding what tax category you are under and what are the tax reliefs, rebates and exemptions that you can entitled to, means more money in your pocket every year. Make sure you are claiming all other available deductions in a way that ensures you pay the least amount of taxes possible.
For example, the government offers a tax relief of up to RM3,000 per annum for individual contributions made to the Private Retirement Scheme (PRS). What better way to save for your retirement?
15. Buying a property
Even if you have not actually realised this milestone yet, you should be aware of the processes and what you need to do in order to successfully buy one. There are various factors you need to consider other than your affordability when buying your first property.
If you are in deep credit card debt, have no life insurance and saving for retirement seems like a fantasy, you still have three decades of working life ahead to sort yourself out. It is never too late to start.
Your 30s should be when you make a big financial push. Understanding things like insurance, retirement plans and mortgages is important since it’s all on your shoulders now.
Work extra hard and achieve all the above milestones before you turn 40, because being 40 brings along a whole new set of milestones you need to achieve!