It has been one of my goals for the past several years, in one form or another, to get my financial house in order. I was doing pretty well for a while, but have been set back some recently by unemployment and bad shopping decisions. While the situation is certainly not dire, and I am making progress, I know I'm not quite in the shape I ought to be. Because of this, I read with interest when Louisa at The Really Good Life posted her progress towards 20 Financial Milestones to Reach in Your 20s (ish). Louisa's milestone list came from Gen Y Wealth, and I decided I'd see how I stack up against it as well.

# 1 - Finance a dream cash
Done. Mark and I paid cash for our London trip last fall

# 2 - Pay off your student loans
Not even close. I still have $27,892 to pay on my student loans. My current expected full repayment date is March 14, 2026.

# 3 - Automate paying your credit card bill in full
Nope. But I do plan to do this as soon as my current balance is gone (end of March/beginning of April).

# 4 - Get rid of all bad debt
Nope. I have a couple thousand dollars in CC debt currently, as well as a car loan. The car loan is a conscious decision--it's at .9% interest, so paying cash didn't make sense.

# 5 - Build an adequate emergency fund
We do not have a six month expense emergency fund. Right now, we have about 3, maybe 4 months. But we're working on this and plan to be well above the six month mark by the end of 2011.

# 6 - Make your first, and last, investment mistake
I haven't made any investments, mistakes or not. I don't really plan to, honestly. My retirement fund is in some age-indexed thing I don't understand, and beyond that I stick with simple savings.

# 7 - Develop a statement of cash flows
I've done this, more than once. I am going to need to do it again soon, as circumstances have changed since the last round.

# 8 & 9 Max out a Roth IRA & Contribute to your 401(k)
This is a goal in progress. I have an IRA, but did not max out contribution in 2010 (though I did in 2009). I will begin contributing the maximum matched amount (6% of my income, I think) to my new 401(k) as soon as I am eligible (in April).

# 10 - Get a degree or certification that increases your earning power
Done. I am considering a new certification to increase my earning potential even more, but have not yet decided whether or not it will be worth the time investment.

# 11 - Take a career risk
Every new job feels like a risk, doesn't it? I'm not sure I've done anything seriously risky, though. I guess I'm pretty adverse to this type of risk.

# 12 - Negotiate something
Done and blogged about!

# 13 - Earn your first side grand

# 14 - Start a sub-savings account for an upcoming financial goal
I have done this a few times, though I don't have one active currently.

# 15 - Set a target retirement date
Done (my IRA is tied to it).

# 16 - Monitor your credit
Done regularly and semi-obsessively.

# 17 - Say no to a financial salesman
Done for both insurance and car add-ons.

# 18 - Give just enough to make it hurt
In process? I'm giving, and I'm giving more and more regularly than ever before, but I'm not sure it hurts.

2 Overachiever milestones:

# 19 - Invest $1 for every $1 you spend
Good God. Not remotely close.

# 20 - Start a 529 College Savings Plan
I don't quite see the good in this, since I don't have kids and have no plans to ever pay tuition again (I will go back to school when and if someone else foots the bill).

So how'd I do?
Done: 9
In progress/partially done: 6
Not done: 5

Could be worse, I guess. If nothing else, I'm moving in the right direction.


Gen Y "Wealth" is right - I can't help but be uber-struck by how privileged one must be to achieve these, especially in one's twenties. I thought to myself, you really have to be solidly middle class to do this. And then I thought, I consider myself to be pretty solidly middle class, and there's no way I'm going to be able to do this. My husband is already out of his twenties, and there's no hope of him completing (or making much progress) in the near future. And while a lot of that has to do with choices that we've made, basically none of it has to do with any bad financial decisions (except maybe the decisions to pursue the careers that we are.) It's awfully hard to do most of those things when the money just isn't there.

Anyway, just rambling. Funny how the world can contain both people who think these goals are perfectly reasonable for a 20something, and people who really can never achieve these goals, ever in their lifetime.

Yeah, it's definitely a young professional focused list. For me, though, I'd say the majority of these goals have been reasonable. My failure to meet them has be my own stupidity and bad judgment, not a lack of resources.

If this old gal can give you a bit of advice, invest in a 401k. It will be a rollercoaster ride at times, but in the end, your money will grow like you never even imagined it would.

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