The Best Financial Advice For Every Decade Of Your Life

Your financial needs and goals naturally evolve as you get older.
Your financial needs and goals naturally evolve as you get older. Luke Chan via Getty Images

Personal finance is a lifelong journey that evolves with each passing decade. As you get older, your financial needs inevitably change and can become more complex. So too must your approach to money.

To help people navigate this often overwhelming journey, we asked personal finance experts to share their best advice for each decade of life.

In your 20s

“Start budgeting, saving and investing as soon as you can,” Bola Sokunbi, the founder of Clever Girl Finance, told HuffPost. “The easiest place to start is with your employer’s retirement savings option if you have one. If your employer offers a retirement savings match, take it. When you are young, you can take full advantage of compounding, dividends and appreciation.”

Get into the habit of saving by living below your means and “paying yourself first” ― i.e., routing money into your savings account every pay cycle. Think intentionally about the kinds of spending values you want to live by.

“Learn more about 401K and traditional or Roth IRA, and once you can start investing via your employer, do so ― the earlier you invest, the better,” said Brian Steiner, executive director of the life insurance and financial planning nonprofit Life Happens.

In your 30s

“In your 30s, you’re likely more knowledgeable about finance products, which is why your 30s are a good time to start diversifying your portfolio and ensuring you have an advisor,” Steiner said. “It doesn’t matter how much you make or what job you have, or if you are single or have a family. Everyone deserves financial advice, so it’s key to have an advisor who can provide tips and insights unique to your personal situation.”

Become more informed about investing and budgeting, and try to avoid accumulating high-interest debt like credit card debt. Build an emergency fund that can sustain you for at least a few months if needed.

“Focus on increasing your income with job hopping, pursuing promotions and starting a side hustle,” advised Jannese Torres, host of the “Yo Quiero Dinero!” podcast and author of “Financially Lit!” “Avoid lifestyle inflation as your income increases, instead use this extra money to save for buying a home, paying off student loan debt or bulking up your investments.”

Your 30s are a good time to get more informed about investing.
Your 30s are a good time to get more informed about investing. Delmaine Donson via Getty Images

In your 40s

“Sign up for term insurance if you don’t already have it,” Torres said. “By now, you may have dependents that rely on you for income. Ensure your policy provides enough protection to your loved ones.”

Your life insurance needs can change over time, but make sure you have at least baseline protections for your family and that your named beneficiaries are up to date.

“As you get older, it’s not about the death benefit, but more about investing and using these products as a savings vehicle for retirement and income stream to ensure financial comfortability during retirement,” Steiner said. “As you get older your death benefit needs may change and there might be more focus on the living benefits of life insurance. The living benefits could provide retirement and income streams.”

He also recommended considering long-term care insurance options to help your family pay for a facility or at-home support later in life.

In your 50s

“This is a great time to start thinking about what your actual retirement will look like,” Sokunbi said. “Figure out how much you’ll need and adjust your savings accordingly. Look into health care and long-term care options. Consider downsizing if it makes sense.”

If your kids are grown and out of the house, and you don’t need as much space, you might want to cut down on home maintenance costs, and make money on your real estate investment by selling your property and moving somewhere smaller.

“Prioritize retirement planning by building your nest-egg as you get closer to that upcoming milestone,” said Dan Andrews, a financial coach with Financial Finesse. “You can start running retirement calculators to see how your savings rates, Social Security benefits, and other future decisions look for your unique retirement goals. And you also have the time to make adjustments that can make a difference in your remaining working years.”

As you get older, you should be strategic about budgeting for retirement.
As you get older, you should be strategic about budgeting for retirement. Thomas Barwick via Getty Images

In your 60s

“Create a withdrawal strategy from your retirement accounts as you step into retirement,” Sokunbi said. “Be sure to manage your expenses so you can extend your wealth. This is a great time to review or set up an estate plan.”

Be mindful of your budget to avoid overspending with less money coming in.

“Know where your income is coming from in retirement, first making sure your needs are covered and then planning on how to strategically fund one-time expenses like trips, renovations, events, etc,” said Financial Finesse coach Gary Grewal.

In your 70s

“Your 70s are all about managing your expenses, making sure you have a will and estate plan in place, staying on top of your health and enjoying your golden years,” Sokunbi said.

Think about what your goals are for this season of your life and how you want to spend your retirement.

“You’re hopefully in good enough health to cross items off your bucket list,” Andrews said. “You now have the freedom to use your time and money for the ‘go-go years’ of your retirement. To make the most of this time, you can create ‘spending guardrails’ of your retirement plan so you can forecast what level of spending still allows you to reach your future retirement goals.”

In your 80s

Seniors are often targets of financial scams, so your 80s is a time to be extra vigilant about where your money is going. Otherwise, think about your legacy.

“Reflect on a life well-lived and what made your life better,” Grewal said. “Consider reviewing your estate plan to ensure your wishes are granted and that charitable organizations that are close to your heart can continue their missions to help those that come after you.”

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