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4 Steps to Achieving Your Financial Best Life

LBee Note:  I'm turning 30 today and to celebrate I'm away on the beaches of Mexico. Still, I thought it would be fun today to take a look back at a post I published on 3/9/2015 …right before my 28th birthday, about important financial milestones to hit before 30. At the time I scored 22.5/30 – now I'm up to 26/30 (I'll let you guess which ones!) How do you compare? 

 

Back in May, one of my favorite bloggers Bridget from the mega-popular Money After Graduation, did a 30 Financial Milestones to Reach by 30 Post, and cataloged her process. In honor of my own 28th birthday tomorrow, I thought I'd write down where I stand with the “30 Financial Milestones.”

 1. Be Financially Independent of Your Parents – PASS

When I first got the idea to move to New York City, I didn't have any money. I begged my mom to buy a ticket for me, which she did in exchange for me organizing the entire Garage and Workshop area for her. She told me that since I was then 23 and out of school, that ticket was the last time I could depend on my parents financially and I'm happy to say that I took that advice to heart I've been able to be financially independent from my parents ever since!

2. Be Debt Free – HALF

I'm currently aggressively working my way through some credit card debt (see here and here for my progress), and am on track to get it all paid off by the end of March. Once that is done, however, I still have my car loan and the mortgage on my first home. So while not completely debt free, I've got a plan in action to make this happen.

3. Out of Overdraft – PASS

I remember being in college and being WRECKED every time I overdrafted my bank account, wondering how I was going to get by when I already owed the bank money. Thankfully those days are over.

4. Good Credit History – PASS

You can stay up to date with your credit score for free, here. 

5. Have 25k Saved for Retirement – FAIL

A few months ago I wrote a post about how much I needed for retirement if I followed the rule of contributing 6% of my income each year. According to my own calculations I have a LONG ways to go, but I am on track to have 25k by the time I hit age 30 in two years.

6. Started Investment Portfolio – FAIL

Yeah, nope. This is on the to-do list, and I am actively using resources to try and learn more about investing and how to get better at it.

7. Have a Solid Emergency Fund – HALF

In addition to paying down debt these past few months I've also been focusing on building up a nice emergency fund. These savings are now in an account where I can't immediately access the money, which is working out much better than my old  banking method, and I'm about half way to my goal, so I'm counting this as a win.

8. Properly Insured – PASS

9. Making Good Use of Employer Benefits – PASS

My current employer doesn't offer any type of 401k match, but I do make good use of the health, dental, life insurance, disability, and FSA accounts.

10. In the Habit of Tracking Spending – PASS

I'm a little obsessed with this. I currently sync my accounts within the Learnvest My Money Center. I also have excel spreadsheets I use (which you can get for FREE when you sign up for my email list. Get the sheets and the “Grow Your Money Tree” tool kit here.

11. Done with Impulse Purchases- PASS

I went to therapy for my shopping addiction in 2007, ever since I've been excellent with curbing impulse purchases because I know my spending triggers. 

12. Yet…Willing to Spend Where it Counts – PASS

Absolutely. I'm all about making more as opposed to penny pinching. I'll willing put down money on anything I need for my side hustle, this site, or to increase the value of my home.

13. In the Habit of Checking Credit – PASS

14. On Top of (Or Ahead of) Monthly Bills – PASS

I don't want to brag or anything, but I am a bill ninja. Reworking my banking to include a separate account that is just for bills that are on autopay made me even better at staying on top of them (as if ninjas could get any better, duh.)

15. One Big Splurge Saved Up and Paid for In Cash – FAIL

I know, I know. Add another one to the to-do list, but I am planning to take a vacation to Italy this summer with the lovely Paula Pant, which will clear this off the list.

16. Pay Personal Income Taxes and Know How to Minimize What You Owe – PASS

Once you start a side hustle, you will become very adept at minimizing what it is that you owe. I get a lot of help from my wizard accountant, but I also try to stay organized with my taxes all year long

17. Diligently Saving for a Big Purchase – PASS

I have a small-yet-mighty account earmarked for renovating the upstairs bathroom in my house. It may take me five years, but I'm planning for it.

18. Clear Direction of Career – PASS

I wish I could get a million, trillion points for this milestone. I absolutely know what I want to be doing with my life and where I see myself in the next five years. (Which hopefully includes this blog, making more Awkward Money Chat videos, and taking over the world!)

19. Profitable Side Income – PASS

I have multiple streams of side income and so should you. Click here to read my monthly side income report, or click here to learn how to start a profitable blog of your own.

20. Positive Net Worth – PASS

21. A BHAG for Your Finances – PASS

This feels a little redundant in light of other milestones, but yes I have a BHAG for my own finances. Maybe one day I'll feel comfortable enough to share it on the site, but I keep in the same excel sheet I use to track my budget and year-to-date spending.

22. An Understanding of How Money Will Deliver the Lifestyle you Want – PASS

Perhaps being a personal finance blogger I have a greater understanding of this than most. For me it isn't so much about making a ton of money, as having the freedom to put more time and energy into the things that sustain me emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually.

23. Stop Measuring Finances Against That of Friends – PASS

I don't think I've ever really done this, perhaps because I'm always blogging and being transparent about my own finances. In order to be so open and honest about how much I'm making (or not making) as is often the case, you have to not care about what others are doing/making, otherwise I'd be too worried or ashamed about what others would think of my finances to ever post a number or word.

I'm happy where I'm at for right now and that is all that matters.

24. Become Less-Consumption Oriented – PASS

I'm currently trying to purge even more stuff from my house in order to cut down on the clutter.

25. Healthy Relationships with Credit Cards – HALF

I'll give myself half credit for this. Even though I've certainly been no angel when it comes to credit cards in the past, I feel I'm on the road to recovery. Once the credit cards are paid off, I plan to live a cash-only budget as best I can.

26. Regular Contributions to Charity – PASS

Contributing to charity is not only a great thing to do, but also a way to reduce how much you owe in taxes each year. I give quarterly to the handful of charities I support (not ashamed to say: it is mostly animal shelters. I love puppies!)

27. Done Paying Banking Fees – PASS

Why would you ever? I mean..really?

28. Understand the Reality of Money – PASS

29. Sharing Money with A Partner – PASS/FAIL

I've done it before, and it was pretty terrible, and a pointless thing to put on an “Under 30” list. Some people don't get married before 30.  Some don't want to. I don't share my finances with anyone right now and I find it really freeing.

And technically, someone could forsake all the other lovely items on this list if they are sharing finances with a partner, so IMO this Item is BS. #endsinglepersonrant.

30. A Commitment to Putting Free or Cheap Before Convenient- FAIL

I hate this mantra. This is the LBMT anti-statement. Personally, I believe that you should always put making money ahead of saving money, and value your time over saving a dollar. You can't get ahead without that mindset.

Being frugal is great and all, and I'm not advocating laziness or being irresponsible with money, but I will never put free or cheap about my most precious resource – time.

So my final total is…..22.5/30. Not Too Bad. And I still have two years to tackle a few of the remaining items on this list. How do you stack up?
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Setting goals for yourself is one of the best ways to get your money under control. One great way to get started is by setting financial milestones - where do you want to be financially in 6 months? Next year? See what we think are the most important goals to reach for!

 

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