30 Financial Milestones You Need To Hit By Age 30


Below are 30 financial milestones you should strive to achieve by age 30. They cover everything from debt repayment to saving to negotiating your salary.

I know how you guys love lists, so I made this for you! Let me know how many you have personally accomplished AND what you would add to the list!

30 Financial Milestones You Should Meet Before Age 30

1. Be financially independent of your parents

Parents always want to help but eventually, their doting will become a hindrance when it comes to establishing yourself as a self-sufficient adult.

I’m a firm advocate that you should establish complete financial independence of your parents in your early twenties, but if an unexpected emergency or crippling debt threw you back in the nest for a few years, make sure you claw your way out by 30.

2. Be consumer debt free

There are no excuses to carry the spending mistakes of your youth into your 30’s. Your consumer debt should be long gone.

Depending on what and how long you studied in university, your student loans might be nearly gone as well. If they’re not, make sure they are at their minimum. Of all the financial milestones on this list, paying off debt is one of the most important. Need some motivation? Check out Pay Your F#$%ing Debt

3. Get out of overdraft.

Sometimes your chequing account runs dry when you’re trying to make ends meet, but by age 30 you’ve had a bank account long enough to know how to stay out of the red. If an overdraft is a habit for you, it’s one you need to break by 30.

4. Established good credit history & a great credit score

Maybe you missed some payments and even had a debt go to collections when you were young and foolish, but by 30 you should have redeemed yourself from these mistakes. Solid credit history will help you with big purchases like a house or a car but also shows you pay your bills on time and don’t live at the limit of your credit cards.

Want to know where you stand? Check your credit score and get your credit report for free.

5. Have $25,000+ saved for retirement.

If that number made your eyes bulge out, you better get saving. As a general rule, I think you should aim to have one-year’s worth of your salary banked for retirement by age 30, but if your spent a long time in university or had a slow start to your career, this may not be possible.

$25,000 is a good amount to aim for if you need to set a target. Even if you don’t start saving until age 25, you’ll only need to put $5,000/yr away to meet this goal. Still don’t believe it’s possible?

6. Start an investment portfolio.

Whether it’s something simple like mutual funds or more advanced like common stocks, by age 30 you have to have your money diversified in something beyond a basic savings account. This is one of the most important financial milestones, because it’s the engine behind steady, long-term wealth building.

Not sure where to get started? I created an eCourse to teach you how to invest in the stock market, safely and profitably!

7. Established an emergency fund.

There are mixed opinions about just how much you should have set aside in case trouble comes your way, but the general rule is enough to cover 3-6 months of essential expenses. Here’s how to get started with only $20.

8. Be properly insured.

Part of being a responsible adult is protecting yourself, and that includes small things like tenant insurance for your apartment right up to disability insurance. Don’t leave out term life insurance, too, especially if you have a spouse or dependents.

If you don’t have coverage through an employer, you should also look for health/dental insurance to manage those costs.

9. Maximizing your employer benefits.

If you’re lucky enough to work somewhere that provides you with perks, you should know what they are and be using them. It’s free money! Make sure you opt into things like employer retirement plans and utilize spending accounts for learning & development. Don’t let these things go to waste!

10. In the habit of tracking your spending.

It’s a tedious chore but the only way you’re ever going to manage your money is if you know where it’s going. By 30 you should be in the habit of tracking purchases and making sure you’re spending less than you earn.

Want an app that does it for you AND lets you earn cash-back on every purchase? Check out my favorite spending & saving app, KOHO.

11. Done with impulse purchases.

The sooner you give up the habit of shopping when bored or grabbing goodies while you wait in the grocery store checkout, the better. Going into your 30’s, you understand your money can only work for you when you have it, so you’ve gotta stop spending it on things you didn’t originally want or need.

Want to spend even smarter? Earn cash-back on EVERY online purchase by signing up for Rakuten.

12. Be willing to spend where it counts.

As you near 30, your dorm-room living days are probably long over and you’re ready to invest in some nice furniture or pots and pans that aren’t coming second-secondhand (third hand?).

Whether it’s your wardrobe, your home, or even items like a gym membership, you understand that sometimes quality costs and you’re willing to spend where it matters.

13. In the habit of regularly checking your credit report.

You can do this for FREE, and it’s one of the simplest ways to protect yourself against identity theft while maintaining good financial health. You have no excuses not to!

14. On top or ahead of all your monthly bills.

In your disorganized youth, you probably forgot to pay a bill or missed a deadline, but by 30 you should be well into the habit of meeting all your deadlines. Set up auto-pay from your chequing account to ensure you never miss a due date!

15. At least one big splurge you saved up for and paid in full with cash.

Whether it’s an extensive backpacking adventure or a new car, you should have at least one “fun” financial triumph behind you by the time you hit 30. Save up and spend! You have to enjoy your money as you take care of it!

16. An understanding of personal income taxes and how to minimize what you pay.

Understanding what tax bracket you fall into and what credits are available to you means more money in your pocket every year. Make sure you’re contributing to your RRSP and claiming all other available deductions in a way that ensures you pay the least amount of taxes possible!

17. Diligently saving for a big purchase.

Whether it’s a wedding or a down-payment on your home, there might be something very expensive coming up that takes a few years of planning. By 30 you should not only have a plan, but actively making headway towards your goal.

18. A clear direction of your career.

Your job is your major financial asset, and the one that generates the most income for you. By 30, not only should you know what industry you work in, you should have logged a few years of professional experience in your field.

If you were in school pursuing a graduate or professional degree, this might not be many years, but the most important thing is that you’ve started establishing yourself to reap the rewards of hard work in your 30’s and 40’s.

Feeling stuck? The book I recommend to all job-hunters or job-hoppers is What Colors is Your Parachute?

19. A profitable side income.

However small, having a second (or third, or fourth) revenue stream is important. This can be a small part-time endeavour or something as simple as dividend payments from stocks you own. In any case, you should have an alternative source of income beyond your main employment.

One of my favorite ways to earn extra income without extra effort? I use Swagbucks to earn points for surfing the web, and then I convert them into Amazon giftcards or get paid cash via PayPal.

20. A positive, growing net worth.

By 30, it should be true that your assets – liabilities = positive number. This might be a challenge depending on how much debt you took on for school or how foolish you were in your early 20’s, but ultimately your net worth should be growing at a quick clip as you enter your 30’s.

21. A BHAG for your finances.

BHAG stands for “Big Hairy Audacious Goal”. This can be something like retiring with $2 million or purchasing a vacation property by age 40 or earning a salary of $100,000 per year. Whatever it is you want, make sure it’s BIG and challenging so you can work towards it a little bit every year. When you meet your goal, make another.

22. An understanding and a plan of how your money will deliver the lifestyle you want.

Following point #21, to their credit millennials dream big — sometimes a little TOO big! If you’re planning to pay off all your debts, get married, buy a home, have a child, get a promotion, buy a new car, and save $50,000 for retirement by age 30, you might need a reality check.

Take a critical and realistic look at your goals and determine if they really are feasible. Maybe make adjustments by lowering the target or extending the deadline. Remember, you’re not in a race!  You will still be working and saving money at 31, so go ahead and delay some things until they’re really financially feasible.

23. So over measuring your finances against that of your friends.

By age 30, some of your peers will have enjoyed tremendous success in their careers, and others will be struggling. At 21 there was little predict who would end up where, but by now the cards have been dealt and maybe you didn’t end up a millionaire by 25.

While it can be hard to quell jealousy when someone is enjoying more financial success than you, your situation is yours and you have to manage it best you can. It’s time to get over this, bury the green-eyed monster, and move on. (This also goes for feeling superior to friends who are not managing their finances as well as you. Be an example, not an arrogant ass).

24. Less consumption-oriented.

It’s easy to be dazzled by bright & shiny things in your 20’s, but heading into your thirties you understand that a new car or a big home are just things and ultimately don’t matter — and certainly are no testament to your financial health or success! We’re all buying into our personal narrative, but by age 30 you should no longer be using material things to measure progress.

25. A healthy relationship with credit cards.

By age 30 you should only be using credit cards for the conveniences and reward perks. You should always pay the bill in full and never miss a due date. You understand that creditors want to make money off of you, not provide you with benefits, so you pursue all rewards cards with caution.

26. A regular contribution to charity.

Whether you drop $10-$20 monthly or a few hundred dollars a year to one or many charities, giving is an integral part of personal finance. Find a cause you believe in and do your part to help it succeed. This necessitates not only budgeting, but also serves as a reminder that many are not as fortunate as you and we have a moral obligation to help our communities by sharing our wealth.

27. If you’re part of a couple, a healthy way of sharing money with your partner.

Whether it’s splitting bills 50/50 or one paying certain bills and the other person paying the rest, by your 30’s you should have figured out a system that works for both of you. Disagreements about finances are a leading cause of divorce, so getting over this early ensures a healthy wallet and a happy relationship.

28. A commitment to putting free or cheap before convenient.

Whether it’s brewing coffee at home or looking for furniture secondhand, it will always be easier to buy new, but it’s in the best interest of your wallet (and the environment!) to seek out alternative ways to get what you want or need without spending much or anything at all. Make use of sites like eBay, Craigslist, and Kijiji or develop your own resources (ie. clothing swaps) and check out used bookstores, consignment shops, and thrift stores.

29. Done paying unnecessary fees.

In your 20’s it seems insignificant to withdraw cash from an ATM that is not from your bank and it’s a hassle to call your cable or cell phone provider for a cheaper plan, but if you do these things and are strapped for cash, it’s completely your fault. It may have been forgivable to be careless in your 20’s, but going forward you never want to be paying more than you have to!

30. An understanding and appreciation of the reality that money is only a tool of exchange, and not worth obsessing over.

It’s cool to be financially savvy, but don’t let it take over your life. By getting your ducks in a row in you’re 20’s, you’ll be all set to enjoy the financial fruits of your labor in your 30’s and beyond.

Final thoughts on financial milestones

One of the most important things to remember in the pursuit of milestones is ultimately the only person you’re racing against is yourself. The contents of your bank account don’t define you, and they don’t impact the people around you. This is true for everyone else as well.

What constitutes real financial success might look different for you than someone else, and that’s ok. Personal finance is personal, and you’re the only one that has to live with your choices!

What do you think? Which financial milestones have you accomplished? Which ones are you still working on? What is your plan to get there? And, perhaps more importantly, what’s next?

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124 Comments. Leave new

  • Oh dear! Other than being financially independant of my parents, at 31, I am not doing very well on this list!

    • some of them are quick fixes though! ie. getting on top of your bills and starting to contribute to charity =) I’m sure you’re not doing too bad at all! The fact that you’re reading a personal finance blog already puts you ahead of the game 😉

  • I did one of these about 18 months ago but this one is a little more accurate to what I, more or less, believe people should be moving towards. That said, a few of these are out of my reach by my 30th birthday.

    5: I only just got my net worth north of zero last fall, it’ll be awhile until $25,000 is safely squirreled away.

    6: I’d like to get this started but I’ve got some wealth rebuilding (replenishing my efund, building a nice nest in my RRSP savings, etc)

    8: I’m covered health wise but I NEED to get rental insurance for my next place. No excuse for this one.

    18: I definitely don’t have this yet, but at least I’ve got a few years under my belt and a variety of experiences 😉

    • I’m embarrassed about how long I went without tenant insurance but it was mandatory to get before signing my lease at my current apartment!!

      $25K is a big number but once you get going I find retirement accounts grow really fast. And you can hold investments in your RRSP! Might as well have a mutual fund or some ETFs, that takes care of #5 & #6 together!

      • Yeah, I think once I settle into my new place in the summer I’m going to do some real scouring. I’ve got my stack of MoneySense to take to the beach! #lamestpersonunderthesun

  • I am, or will be doing pretty good on this list. I am 28 and will be 30 in November of 2015. I’m on track to have nearly all of these – or more reasonably I aim for 25/30, but generally I’m an over-achiever.

    I was actually talking about my BHAG today. I’m looking at 2.5 million. How gross does that sound without any method or milestones to implement it?

    • Hey setting the goal is the first step, so it’s no problem the planning can come second! I think $2.5 million is great — and part of the fun is figuring out how to get there.

  • Not doing too bad here! Giving myself a 24.5 because sometimes I go for convenience over cheap/free. I recently had to adjust my first BHAG because I reached it earlier than expected 🙂

  • I’m over 30, but I managed to reach 28/30 things on this list. I put $26k for a down payment on our house and currently have over $26k in cash/investments. So I guess I’m doing ok?!?! 🙂

    I’ll be honest, I’m too lazy to learn about taxes. I pay my accountant to do all of that for me. Lol. But I really should make an honest effort to educate myself more about them.

  • Check on all of those. 🙂

  • Excellent list. I’m 26 and love the motivation this gives me and also helps me see some progress towards most of these. Still some work to do but definitely more focused on these next 3.5 years.

  • Ugh. Turning 30 in October and got 22/30. I still have some work to do with savings, getting out of debt and dealing with my feelings on money, jealousy, and friends.

  • This is such a good list. I check most of them off and am pretty proud of that, but there are some areas I have to work on like saving more fore retirement and maximizing employer benefits. I have a pretty clear goal of where The Banker and I want to be in a handful of years when we hit the big 30! Great list to also reflect on how far we’ve come!

  • Check on all of those! I guess I really am 25 going on 30. I don’t quite have one year’s income in investments, but I do have about three years’ worth of expenses in there.

  • So I’ve only hit 19 so far, but I have just over 5 years to go! I’m completely confident I’ll hit 30/30 by then 🙂

  • forfundssake
    May 1, 2014 4:43 pm

    Very well thought out list. Nice work! If earning goldstars on work wasn’t an elementary milestone I would have placed one right at the top of this! Lol

  • Thank goodness I have some time! I only just turned 23 not even a month ago. Maybe I can hit all of these before 30? Great list!!

  • You of all people have no right to tell anyone what they ‘need’ to do by age 30. There are millions of different circumstances and variables that come into play to determine where someone is at the age of 30. Unemployment, health situations, disability, kids, tragedies…you have NO right to phrase it like that. Shame on you for trying to make other feel guilty just because they aren’t exactly like you.

    • Wah wah wah.

      Surely you’re tired of trolling MAG by now.

      • I’m not trolling, I enjoy reading your blog, but as someone who has tried to achieve a lot of these milestones and have failed because of disability/health issues this really struck a nerve with me. You need to treat your readers with more respect.

        • Also, isn’t this a monetized blog? Companies should be on the lookout – look at how this girl handles criticism. Not exactly professional.

        • Nothing about this article is disrespectful — as you should be able to conclude by over a dozen positive comments. You are the only person that has complained. This is all you.

          • Your blog is usually full of valuable and helpful information (which is why I read it almost every day) so I’m surprised you are responding so childishly to my comments. You can’t accept that one person with a dissenting opinion may have a point? That may be, yes it’s great to have all these things by age 30 but for some people it just never works out. I Hope you never have to deal with a circumstance such as failing health or a disability because you would never be able to handle something out of your control.

          • I’m tired of your leaving rude and aggressive comments on my posts. If it continues, I will ban your IP.

          • I also agree with Jessica. And the fact that you threatened to ban her makes the “dozens” of positive comments less impressive.

          • Jessica has been trolling my blog with hateful comments for a few weeks and I’m tired of it. If she had something more constructive to say, fine, but for the most part she just looks for things to complain about.

          • Bridget, nothing about what Jessica said was hateful or disrespectful. Your immaturity is showing if this is how you handle opposing viewpoints. It very seriously makes me reconsider the value of your advice.

          • As I said previously, these were not her first comments. I’m pretty sure she’s a troll.

      • Agree with Jessica (me = not a troll because it’s my first time ever on here). A couple of examples:
        1. If you’re a med student, you’re IN SCHOOL by the time you’re 30. Unless your parents make 7 figures and agree to pay, you WILL be in debt with student loans.
        2. A clear goal of your career: No, because many people “know” what they want when they are 10 and have midlife crisis decades later. Nothing is known for sure.

        Instead of addressing ANY of Jessica’s points (disabled people etc), whether to defend yourself reasonably or to acknowledge the weak parts of your port, you went straight to say she’s a troll. Offensive to her and to other readers who come across this and obviously, showing disrespect (which in turn means losing any respect she might have had for you) and immaturity.

        • To become a doctor takes 4 years of undergrad, plus 4 years of medical school, and then residency. This means you would finish your undergrad at age 22 and medical school at age 26. Depending on what residency you choose, it would be anywhere from 2 years (family doctor) to 12 years (neurosurgeon). But residency is paid, so you’re earning money from age 26 onward, even if you don’t hit your real income until your mid to late 30’s.

          At the university I attended, you would have paid approximately $6,000 per year for your undergraduate degree for a total of $24,000. Medical school is about $10,000 per year for a total of $40,000, bringing your total school costs to $64,000. This is much cheaper than you would pay in the USA, but if you’re 26 and say $65,000 to $80,000 in debt from your medical education, then that’s not so bad.
          Your first year of residency you’ll make about $50,000, which means you can start paying some of your debt. Not much, but some, and you can start saving. Every year you’ll get a raise and you can pay more. A family doctor in Alberta makes about $150,000 per year so if at 28 you’re bringing in that salary you can definitely save and tackle the rest of your debt by age 30. Sure, you have to live like a student during that time, but you’ll get to start your 30’s debt free and a huge income.

          So that’s what you do as a med student. If it’s different where you live, then you earn less and save less. Fine. You make adjustments.

          As for disability, since that can be so varied and be temporary or permanent, I’m not sure how you want me to address it. If you can’t save $25,000 for retirement by age 30, then don’t. Save $20,000. Or save $15,000. Save nothing. Whatever. I can’t make personalized spending and saving plans for everyone, and what’s more, I MADE THIS LIST UP. It’s what I think everyone should do by 30. As in, it is MY OPINION. Do you care so much what I think? No? Then stop freaking out. For the millionth time, I don’t care if you can’t finish this list by age 30. Most people can, but if you can’t then the only person it affects is YOU.

          Furthermore, the points aren’t personally offensive in anyway. “Save $25,000” isn’t meant to hurt anybody’s feelings. Jessica needs to get a grip. And she is most definitely a troll. If you want to see more of her troll-y comments, she’s a regular on Krystal Yee’s blog givemebackmyfivebucks.com as well.

          • Ok, Jessica might or might not be a troll, I don’t know her so can’t speak for her.

            I just took a brief look at other comments. Perhaps you didn’t mean to be offensive, but the way you come across to me (as well as other commenters on here it looks) is that you tend to dismiss people’s points as opposed to acknowledging that your list is not always realistic –> not “need”, maybe “aim for” as someone else pointed out.

            In the US med school costs $60,000/year*4=$240,000. Undergrad = $50,000*4=$200000. I’m using extremes here; my point is people do graduate with $200,000 – $300,000 in debt from engineering, med and law schools. It’s more common than you think. A PhD in Philosophy can take 10 years to finish, so you finish at age 32, in debt (no, not all PhD are funded).

            In the US starting salary for doctors are around $100,000- $120,000, living expenses might be higher too because not many things are covered here like in Canada (insurance etc). So the numbers are drastically off, meaning it is a lot less realistic to even think of the goals you pointed out.

            I’m aware this is neither a personalized list nor a list that can apply to the crowd in this economy. If it applies to you, sure, but the “you” in the title seems to (again, seems) address the general audience.

            “most people can” – who’s the most you’re referring to by the way? Most people would love to. Can? doubt it.

            Lastly, I don’t think I sounded a tenth as aggressive as you here lol, talking about freaking out: “I MADE THIS LIST UP. It’s what I think everyone should do by 30. As in, it is MY OPINION. Do you care so much what I think? No? Then stop freaking out. For the millionth time, I don’t care if you can’t finish this list by age 30. Most people can, but if you can’t then the only person it affects is YOU.”


    • Karen Schmidt
      June 3, 2014 3:10 pm

      I agree with Jessica, also. Maybe things are better in Canada but in the USA the economy is very challenging and not a lot of 30 year olds can achieve all those things. I speak as the mother of a 30 yr old who is a very hard working young woman.

    • Jessica, as I see it, this is an opinion piece. It’s also an opinion that I think most people would agree with. I’m sorry that life has dealt you health problems, etc. I truly am. But it’s hard to fault Bridget for not writing an article that covers every possible situation. I wish you the best.

      • I too was a little shocked at the holier than thou tone of this piece. If it had been called ‘things to aim for in your personal finances’ by the time you’re 30, that would have been more palatable. I chose to go into lower paid work that gives back to the community rather than make big bucks. Consequently, it took me a long time to pay off my considerable student debt, or save up enough for a deposit for a house. I took a year off to have a baby at 29, and that set my debt back enough I didn’t have it paid off till 33. I have a reasonable amount of super and some equity in my own home. I’ve always worked hard and been employed and (unlike many people), never had credit card debt, and haven’t even encountered adverse circumstances. I was lucky my parents could and would lend me a deposit for a house. I spent a few years paying them back rather than paying off my mortgage but I know I had an opportunity others didn’t have. Had they not been so generous, I would not now have a house at all, as housing prices have climbed dramatically and even entry level properties would be out of my reach. I still fail quite a few items on this list, and, quite frankly, it made me feel pretty crap about myself. What I have achieved has mostly been luck thanks to the housing boom. I know so many people who have hit snags in their financial world – kids, illnesses, kids with illnesses, domestic violence, family problems, mental health issues – who despair of keeping their heads financially above water, particularly women, and there’s no way they could tick off half the items on this list. It seems grossly out of touch with most people’s reality, and pretty smug about it besides. Maybe the author of this article could take a little more care with her words. She has valuable thoughts to offer, but the article didn’t need to be so judgmental.

        • I absolutely respect your response and I have felt the exact same way. I am now seeing myself leaning towards the mindset to achieve these goals but I am a single mother of 2 who didn’t complete my undergrad degree and has a mountain of student loan debt…. This article seemed arrogant but it had many good points as far as “getting your head in the right space to achieve financial health”

  • Holy cow! I need to start checking items off this list. Definitely #23 is hard to do. I feel pangs of jealousy for the friends with better lives; must to work on that STAT.

  • I’ve got most of these down pat, except for two that I’m missing: #5 ($25,000 in retirement savings) and #18 (clear career direction). For the retirement savings, I’m about halfway there. For career direction, I’ve been struggling. I once thought I knew what I wanted to do, but the longer I work in the field the more I realize that I may want to take a different direction eventually. I also don’t always go for free/cheap over convenient (in the case of clipping my dog’s nails for instance – I am not going through that trauma!) but I’ve definitely made some changes in that regard in the past few years.

    I’m only halfway through my twenties though, so I still have time!

  • The only viable way for me to minimize my taxes right now is to earn less money – so I’m skipping that until more viable methods come into play.

    Do you think you’ll always always track your spending? I’m in the habit right now, but I coasted by for a year or more without it, because it wasn’t a priority and I knew income >> expenses. I still don’t see it as totally critical, but I kind of love the data for my own nerdy purposed.

    I sometimes put convenient > cheap, but it is a measured decision.

    The first four are crucial though! I’d aim higher than 25k for number 5, but individual circumstances vary widely.

  • Fun! I’m 31 and I got 27.5. I certainly don’t have $25K at this time, but I’m working on it. And today I don’t have investments, but I will by the end of the month (exciting/nerve-wracking). I gave up my side hustle (part time waitress) in December because I could afford not to work 55 hours a week, and to be honest, I wouldn’t go back. Perhaps I over value my time, but for me it’s not worth the extra money. And the half point comes from my occasional favouring of convenient over cheap. 🙂

  • Great list! I think I’ve accomplished quite a few of these (no debt, retirement savings), but there’s a ton more I need to get a handle on.

  • Bloody Hell! Where was this list when I was 30! I am 38 now and I think I may have achieved two-thirds of the things in this list. What 30 year old has $25,000 saved for retirement! I have been contributing to a RRSP for 10 years and so far I have 10k saved. But my husband I did buy a house, maybe that counts as my BHAG.

  • I became financially indpendent of my parents when I was 17. Graduated at 21 and paid off student debt within 2 years. I am 29 years of age now and I work in the insurance industry! Have $135,000 saved for retirement. Hoping to get to $200,000 mark within 24 months. yay!

  • #2, ok, as long as there is no mortgage or car payment in there. Otherwise, that’s nuts!

    #11, disagree, as long as you can afford it, impulses are more than fine.

    #18, I struggle with this since your career might change a few times. How about a stable job?

    #24, for sure, often overlooked. People are obsessed with stuff. Sadly.

    Good list Bridget!

  • I have been saving since I left college at 21 and when I was 25 started maintaining a personal balance sheet which I have since been updating every six months. I have kept them all on file and it makes for an interesting historical record. Looking back to my 30th birthday balance sheet, my net worth was $137K (in 1988 dollars), and I’m sure by then I had achieved most of the above-mentioned milestones — sorry…didn’t give much to charity back then.

    Had a few BHAGs along the way like saving to take two years off for an MBA (graduated with no student debt), vacations to Galapagos, Iceland, and South Africa.

    I am now 55, and without windfalls like an inheritance or a lottery winning, but with plenty of hard work and sensible attitudes toward spending and saving, our household “liquid” net worth is over $1.2 million (excluding fixed assets like cars, home and furniture), and debt-free.

    It can be done folks…especially in a land of opportunity that is Canada!

  • I would add “make sure that the percentage of your income from employment is steadily decreasing” to this list. I think it is important to start to get income from other sources as early as possible (ie dividends for instance). Good list though. 🙂

  • I’ve never been good at #10.

    I don’t understand the push-back on #5 – many people have said “half” or “full” salary saved by 30, so you’re being conservative here. Good list in my mind – you nailed all the big ones, and anyone who gets the majority of the rest of them won’t have any problem with #5.

  • Why isn’t own a home on this list?

    As a 26 year old who’s been in the work force for 4 years now I made it my top priority to buy a home as soon as I could. This is the single biggest purchase you’ll ever make, don’t wait until you have kids tying up all your money to try and save for a down payment!

    Not only that but buy your first (starter home) with some rental income, I bought a nice bungalow with a 2 bedroom basement apartment that pays for 90 % of my mortgage, leaving me and my wife money for the things we want to do (travel, golf, ski, eat out etc…)

    • Because owning a home is not a measure of financial responsibility or success, and all too often is detrimental to a 20-something’s net worth. Depending where you live, house prices may be astronomically high and saving up 20% for a down-payment is not realistic (particularly if you’re heeding the other rules to save $25,000+ for retire and establish an emergency fund). Buying a home before your financially ready just over-extends you, and puts unnecessary pressure on your finances. I am strongly, strongly, strongly opposed to 20-somethings purchasing a home for the sentimental idea that it’s a milestone of adulthood or necessary to showcase financial success. The stock market has always returned more than houses — even with Canadian house prices soaring! It’s stupid to put your money in a home if you haven’t established significant savings elsewhere.

      • Wow, those are some strong words against home buying. Its plainly obvious you have a large bias against purchasing a home. I purchased a home at age 28 and it was one of the best financial decisions I’ve ever made. You should be more sensitive to the fact that it is a great idea to buy in a lot of areas. Just because its not ideal in your part of the world does not make it a bad decision in other places.

        My costs are now permanently fixed at a very reasonable level. I don’t have to worry about moving or my rent being raised. We benefit on the appreciation of the full price of the home, not just the down payment. We benefit from a large amount of financial leverage on a mortgage. There is no bank that will allow you to invest $100,000 in the stock market for a $20,000 down payment, so why compare the two?

  • Great list, sometimes people advocate for the RRSP not knowing that it may be better to either max out their TFSA or pay down their mortgage (and this assumes of course no consumer debt). By the way, just came across this site. Great to see another Calgarian blogger 🙂

  • Great list! I am retired and wish I had seen a list like this in my 20’s. My concern is student loans, paying them off. It is very difficult to get a job let alone paying off the loans and conforming to the list. By the time I was 30 I had children, mortgage and loans to pay!

  • Chris Peterson
    May 7, 2014 1:23 pm

    What I’ve learned is that I shouldn’t have gone to law school…

  • It’s all actually pretty simple once written down, isn’t it?

  • Great post. I didn’t get there by 30 but I’ve just about got there now. I’ve got a similar “Ten Steps to Financial Freedom” that I’m following. At 46 years of age I now have net assets of £1.65m, albeit a little of my £4m target. Good luck all.


  • It’s a painful transition, switching from having “a passion for living” to working for one…

  • Just_Some_Poor_Fool
    June 3, 2014 8:56 am

    How about a list for 40.

    • haha a great idea! But since I’m not even 30 yet I’m not sure what is appropriate to strive for by age 40. I have some ideas for what I want, but I’m fairly aggressive with my finances and not sure many people will agree.

      • I would love to see them though, eventually! I find it inspiring to see someone ambitious with their money goals. It gives me perspective about how far one can shoot and not be held down by conservative standards.

  • Re: #8, buy life insurance. Term life is shockingly cheap when you are young and healthy. Even if you are still single and debt-free and nobody is relying on your income, you might as well lock in the cheap rate for your future spouse and children’s benefit. Name your parents/siblings/nieces&nephews for now, then change it to your own family when the time comes. Truly, a half million dollars for like $20/month. Sometimes you can get a good deal through work, but job changes are unpredictable… best to have an independent source. You’ll be much more expensive to cover when you’re 40 and overweight and have high blood pressure.

  • “Debt free” by 30: I wonder how many of you had Mother and Father pay for your college education…or went to college in the 70s.

    I’ll be 30 in November. I got out of grad school in Dec 2012 and now have $30K in student loans. My parents have never and likely will never contribute a cent towards my education.

    Grad school was worth it, but all that extra education set me back 5+ years on this list. Perhaps this should be 30 by age 40. I feel bad for others in my generation (the “lazy” one, as so many of our elders like to call us), who graduated amidst one of the worst economic downturns since the Great Depression and haven’t even had a chance to enter the workforce, much less “begun saving for retirement.”

    While those who were more well off at the beginning of the financial meltdown still remain unaffected by the downturn and pat themselves on the back for having reached all 30 by 30, the rest of us will try to claw our way out of the continuing mess the Unaffected has created.

    • I’m 28 and halfway through my MBA (which I am paying for). I graduated from my Bachelors degree owing over $20,000 in student loans, which I paid off in less than 2 years. I have been paying my own way without parental help since age 18.

      When the financial meltdown hit, I wasn’t even graduated from my bachelors degree. I lost nothing in the economic downturn, but only because I had nothing to lose.

      I outline how to save $25,000 for retirement by age 30 here https://www.moneyaftergraduation.com/2014/05/08/stop-making-excuses-for-why-you-cant-save-25000/

      • So you’re paying for your MBA…how? From what I understand, getting an MBA includes taking night or online courses while working a full time job. Difficult for some, I suppose, but easy to save for other things, like retirement, while reaping the benefits of having a full-time job (you know, matching retirement, decent insurance, etc.)

        My Ph.D. came with a $22,000/year stipend, which is approximately the amount I needed to pay all my bills (not to mention buy food). That stipend never increased for the 5+ years of grad school because at that same time, Universities were also being squeezed by a combination of the economic downturn, increasing tuition, and lagging support of education by government. Grad school was tough because it was a more-than-full-time job where I often worked 60-80 hours per week at one location for 5+ years. When I went home, it was to re-fuel myself before heading back to work for another 5 hours. Weekends consisted of sleeping in until 8 or so, before going back to work until 5 or 6 (both Saturday and Sunday). It was impossible to have another job while also pursuing a Ph.D.; in fact, it was strictly forbidden because that indicated you weren’t “dedicated” enough.

        But hey, I got free health insurance from the school…right? Well, that’s great when you’re healthy and only need antibiotics, cough syrup, and birth control/condoms. I’ll bet you don’t have to deal with major health problems either, huh? Unfortunately for me, I was diagnosed with MS and needed to take out more student loans to subsidize some of my living expenses due to egregiously high medical bills ($400/month treatment, $2,700 MRIs twice a year-after insurance, plus visits to specialists). I paid more than 18% of my personal income one year in medical bills alone.

        However, less than a year and a half out of grad school and I’ve more than quadrupled my income…and now I have a title. When ACA took effect, I no longer had to worry about being denied health insurance for my preexisting condition. Too bad everything I’ve accomplished thus far means nothing to this list and I’ve missed the arbitrary age 30 deadline.

        So when you say that there’s “no excuse to not save $25,000 [by age 30]” what do you mean by that? I certainly can’t change the fact that I have MS, and I don’t think that the answer is: “you shouldn’t have gone to grad school.” I think that there are legitimate reasons why people are behind, and perhaps you should use a bit of compassion and some _good_ advice, instead of unreasonable expectations and guilt tripping.

        I also think your point is incorrect when you say that you didn’t have money to lose in the downturn so you were unaffected. EVERYONE lost in the downturn, (except maybe if you were a bank executive or CEO with a golden parachute). You paid more for gas, more for food, you paid higher university costs (which resulted in higher student loans). If you had a part time job at any point during undergrad, you saw reduced hours or available positions dry up as older, more experienced adults flooded the market because _they_ were affected. It’s just as bad as saying that you’ve “pulled yourself up by your own bootstraps”. It’s just a complete falsehood.

        • I’m not sure what you want me to do? Make a savings plan just for you? If you can’t save $25,000 for retirement by age 30, then try to save $20,000. If you can’t do that, then save whatever you can. If you can’t get all your debts paid off by age 30, fine, do it by age 31 or 32 or 40. I’m not going to come after you if you don’t make everything on this list. Heck nothing will happen if you don’t do ANYTHING on the list! It’s just a list I made up! What you do or don’t you do doesn’t affect me in any way.

          I am very very sorry that you live in America and your country is continuously looking for new ways to stick it to the middle and lower classes, but that is not something I have any control over. It’s no use blowing up at me because the USA insists on screwing over its citizens. And I’m sorry you’ve been diagnosed with MS or that I haven’t or whatever apology you’re looking for.

          As for getting my MBA, tuition is $21,000 per year for a total cost with books of about $45,000. I received a large entrance scholarship, but otherwise I studied full-time, completing 13 courses in my first year. I earned a small income from this website and other freelance writing projects. Since completing my first year, I’m now doing a summer internship. I may continue to work full or part time in my second year, as I will only have classes 2 evenings per week. As an intern I definitely don’t enjoy any benefits or retirement matching, but I will continue to put a small amount towards my retirement accounts myself.
          And there’s definitely no online courses, the University of Phoenix isn’t recognized as a legitimate school north of the border =p

          • I am amazed at your avowed lack of compassion and the high-handed way in which you spout “it’s my opinion”. It’s either your education has been completely lacking in terms of teaching you tact, or your estimation of yourself is brashly and myopically, unduly grand. While your list may be helpful, your attitude needs help.

      • The economic downturn effected everything. I graduated college in 2010 and there were straight up no good jobs. I worked for 6 months in fast food to pay the rent, then eventually moved back in with my parents to start job hunting full time. I applied at roughly 200 places. I had 3 interviews. I finally got a basic IT / data entry job. I finally got a decent job about 2 years after graduating. Even with that job, plus 2 other sources of income, it’s hard to have more money than bills.

  • I certainly wish I could say that I was anywhere near this list. I am 31, almost 32, and I have virtually the exact opposite situation that this list recommends.

    That being said, it’s nice to see it all laid out. It provides me a target. Maybe by 35-40 I can have this nailed down. I’m making a huge career shift right now (sitting in class waiting for teacher to get on with things), and that shift will make a lot of this more attainable.

    I can only surmise how others feel that aren’t near this list by 30. My gut reaction was to feel like crap. Upon reflection though I have made a ton of bad decisions over the past decade, so it’s my own fault at the end of the day. I was never taught any of this, so I’ve had to find out the hard way. Hopefully I will remember that when I have kids and will pass on these ideals.

  • Oh were to start… I couldn’t agree more with Jessica’s post from May. I’m curious to know how many of these you have actually met… Then i’m curious to find out what Ivy League school you were given a full ride to and what middle to senior level position you were offered directly out of college that gives you the liberty of such a pretentious list… God forbid someone have to pay for all of college out of pocket (i.e. loans), or buy their own car, or decide that having a family is FAR more important that spending every waking minute on a career… Reminds me of the Story of the Mexican:

    An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellow-fin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

    The Mexican replied, “only a little while. The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”

    The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life.” The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

    The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”

    To which the American replied, “15 – 20 years.”

    “But what then?” Asked the Mexican.

    The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions!”

    “Millions – then what?”

    The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”

    But I digress… I will agree with a portion of your list; overdrafts, credit score, property insured, etc… But your article is directed at such a finite demographic; 4 year college grad… What about the high school graduates that are still working their way up? Or the people who got their masters and dodnt even graduate until they are 24 or 25…

    Thats all I have to say about that.

    • I graduated from the University of Alberta and my first job was at the UofA in the Faculty of Engineering — it was entry level, no middle management here.

      I also graduated owing over $20,000 in student loans which I paid off in full in less than 2 years.

      Buying a car or having a family is not an excuse not get your finances in order so not clear what you’re getting at.

      • “your article is directed at such a finite demographic; 4 year college grad… What about the high school graduates that are still working their way up? Or the people who got their masters and dont even graduate until they are 24 or 25…”

        What im getting at, is 1/3 to half of your list is unrealistic to the general population. You even said it yourself, you lost nothing in 2008, because you had nothing to lose… So for us that did and went through a rough patch, then we should have known and should still be on track?

        And correct me if im wrong, but Calgary has one of THE most healthy economies in North America. Glad thats working out for you.

        • I graduated from my BSc. at age 24 (I had taken a few years between high school and university because I didn’t think I wanted a college degree; I worked for minimum wage and saved nothing. Totally lost time. Oh well) so starting out at age 24 or 25 is fine.

          100% of my list is absolutely realistic to the general population. Like I said, I had nothing in the 2008 crash so even if had lost everything, I would have started from exactly the same place: nothing!

          Calgary does have a very strong economy. I am currently typing this from my very first day of work in this city. I moved here last September for my MBA. After studying full-time September through April, I’m only just starting work now. It’s an internship so I’m only on for 3 months but hopefully Calgary’s robust economy does pay off for me at graduation in April 2015, but so far I haven’t capitalized on it.

          As I mentioned in the post I really think people should strive to have 1x their annual salary saved for retirement but since I’m getting my head bitten off for $25K, I don’t expect that will be a popular opinion.

          I think what people don’t realize is you can do whatever you want. Nothing is going to happen if you don’t save $25,000 for retirement by age 30. I’m not going to send you an email chastising you for falling short. You’re simply not going to have that much saved, and that will affect no one but yourself.

      • Yeah, $20,000 in loans (or “over $20k,” which likely means somewhere between $20k-$22k) is nowhere near a lot. I’m looking at that much for two summer semesters and one full year in a community college, which in the states is a public two year school where most people transfer out to a four year school. I guess the Canadians have a bit more subsidizing for their schools?

        That being said, as unrealistic as this list will be for so many people, it’s still good to help me generate some goals I would otherwise not have thought about. Unfortunately, I didn’t set out on the economically fortuitous path straight out of high school, nor even throughout my 20s.

        • I didn’t start caring about my money until I was 23ish. Before then I spent everything that came in and then some.

          Yes, tuition is cheaper in Canada vs. the USA and I have benefitted from this. I graduated with the average debt load in 2010 — now that average is higher. My number could have been higher as well, but because I got smart about money in my 3rd year of undergrad I didn’t rack up my line of credit (that would have been another $16,000 of debt) or my credit cards (prob another $10,000 of debt).

          I worked my butt off, often juggling multiple jobs to meet all my bills an then pay down my debt and save. You might balk at my “small” debt but I paid it off in less than 2 years — that makes for average payments of $1,000 per month. I did this while still banking money for retirement and other savings. That’s not easy no matter how you slice it.

          I’m glad the post inspired you to set financial goals. If you can’t complete the full list until age 31 or 35, it still counts. The most important thing is to be in charge of your finances and have your money working for you.

          • It honestly makes absolutely no sense to me that you were able to make $1k per month payments towards your debt, squirrel sway savings, pay your bills, & eat even 1 full meal a day with an entry level position.

            Did you live with your parents? Did you have 3+ roommates splitting the rent and utilities with you? Did you only eat Top Ramen & drink tap water?

            I am a single mother who had to postpone finishing my degree & take an entry level job. If you include child support payments on the first of every month (luckily I have a wonderful man as the father of my child most women in my position that I know will fight tooth and nail to see even one single payment) then I make exactly $75 more than my bills each month. That means my son & I have $75 for food, gas in my car, toiletries, emergencies, etc.

            PLEASE tell me how in the next five years I am to meet even a handful of these pretentious, presumptuous, gilded goals.

            I understand what you’re saying about the list. You made it up. It isn’t for everyone. Etc, etc. No guilt for you, right? You didn’t create the world’s economic issues. However, it isn’t your place to scoff at the human beings who aren’t fortunate enough to be able to rise above those issues with grace. Some of us have to struggle and fight.

            What you are not understanding about the negative response you have had to this post is this: your tone is crap. You seem condescending & hoity-toity, unrealistic, & dishonest. You lack compassion & a grasp on reality. The MAJORITY is nowhere near as financially secure as you’d like to believe. If you’re going to write a piece like this & arbitrarily spout off about statiatics, you should probably be statistically sound with your information.

            I advise you create & release another list, & perhaps an apology to those of us who weren’t given a thing, didn’t invent some new gadget, aren’t entrepreneurs. Or rename this one “30 Things You CAN Do Before 30 If You Were Born With A Silver Spoon In Your Mouth & Know No Personal Struggles & Also Have An Inheritance Or Perhaps Count Cards At The Casino.”

          • It does make sense — I actually outlined how I did it in this post, The Logistics of ACTUALLY Increasing Your Net Worth By $25,000 Per Year On A $50,000 Salary https://www.moneyaftergraduation.com/2013/11/06/the-logistics-of-actually-increasing-your-net-worth-by-25000-per-year-on-a-50000-annual-salary/ (I even included a screenshot of my paycheque!)

            My parents have not supported me since I was 18, and I don’t live at home (my parents live 2000 miles away! It’s not even an option!). I’m not clear why people must assume that I’m privileged because I manage my finances well — this whole blog details my journey from being $21,000 in debt with only a part time job to where I am now. Just because you’re coming in and reading at the end when I have everything under control doesn’t mean there was never any struggle.

          • I agree with the create a post/make an official apology.

            Bridget, your level of immaturity is astounding. It’s really sad that you can’t comprehend that this is not feasible to everyone (most people in fact) and most importantly, that your attitude is indescribable.

      • I’m 26 and have no student loans to pay off, but I still find it hard to believe it’s possible to save 25k, let alone 25k / year.

        I make in the mid 40k range. After the 30% taxes are taken out of my paycheck for income tax, social security, medicare, state tax, etc, I’m left with under 2500 / month.

        Then I have a car payment, mortgage payment (because where I live, rent is roughly the same or more per month than a mortgage), gas, electric, cell phone, internet, gas for car, water, trash, food, health insurance, car insurance, etc.

        After all that I don’t have a ton of money left. I have 2 side sources of income on top of my salary and I’m still scraping by.

        It’s true, I could save a little – but for what purpose? It’s not going to be enough to make any difference. One disaster would wipe out those savings. By the time I’m old social security will be gone and my job doesn’t offer any sort of pension, so I’m going to be working until I die anyway.


  • I’m 50 and have absolutely nothing, despite doing all the right things along the way. If you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time economy-wise (and health-wise), it can wipe you out. A few months without health insurance and you’re done. And I know many others in this situation.

  • These are super difficult for a person like me who has med school loans.

  • Ok, I did all this, I’m in my mid thirties but didn’t get me anywhere. I got almost everything I wanted but not happines.

  • I’m 24 and I have 4/30 but I’m aware of where I need to make my next moves and am working on it constantly, the hardest thing for me is putting cheap before convenience.

    • I find it’s really hard early on to meet any of these goals, but in your late 20’s it’s like bursting a dam and they start pouring in. If you clean up your credit and stay ahead of your bills, everything starts to fall into place and then it’s just a matter of aggressively pursuing your goals.

  • This can’t possibly apply to anyone who goes to Medical School, who gets an MBA after a few years of work experience, or PhD students… This is for the person who goes straight from undergrad to work, works while obtaining additional education (part-time MBA, for example), or whose parents helped A LOT early on.

    • – My parents have not offered me any financial help since age 18 (I am now 28)
      – I am currently pursuing an MBA full-time (I’m currently doing a summer internship, but aside from freelance writing I didn’t work during the school year)

  • This is a ridiculous article. I don’t see how it is remotely possible to complete a majority of these goals by age 30, unless you come from a wealthy family. I’m 36 and have accomplished 11 of these items (1,3,8,9,11,13,16,18,24,28,and 29). Actually, those 11 items were all accomplished by age 17. I have never met anyone who was able to finish paying college loans prior to age 30. Most of the people I know will be paying student loan debt at least until age 40, and those debts make it impossible to put any money aside for saving, making most of the goals on this list unachievable. How is it possible to put aside money for saving, investments or charity when my entire paycheck each month goes toward student loan debt, rent, food, and utilities?

    • You can pay at least $10,000 per year off of student loans, so depending when you graduate and how much you owe, you should be able to do that by age 30.

      ie. if you graduate at 22 and owe $80,000 you’ll be debt free by 30. If you graduate at 25 and owe $50,0000, you’ll be debt free by age 30. If you have more than $10,000 per year to pay off it might take longer.

      If your entire paycheque is going towards student loan debt and bills, you need to find a way to bring in extra money (like a part time job on evenings or weekends). Once the debt is gone you’ll have more money to tackle savings & investments.

  • Andrea Priorelli
    June 4, 2014 5:01 pm

    That is very sad, everything I heard since I’m living in USA is money money money… just money. My boyfriend shared this link to me because he thinks I should need to follow those rules. But what’s the point? To be rich? to live knowing exactly what will be your life until the end? this is sound so much like a entire population of zombies. you go to school, then university, then indipendent from your parents, then marry, then buy a house, a car, make children, start to think to your retirement at 25 (that is horrifyng!). and then the story began again with your children….
    Probably is just a cultural fact. But I think planning so meticulously your life is sad, basic and so limitative. I dont want to know what will be my life in 5 years!
    Let me just say one last thing: life is only one and the world is a huge place rich of the most different cultures, don’t lose it!
    By the way, I’m sorry if I was being argumentative…. there is nothing personal, I’m sure everybody is different, and I’m sure there are different ways to find our personal happiness. I just wanted to share my opinion that I really don’t want that money rules my life.
    In italy we say: “the world is beautiful because is different”
    I hope everybody are gonna find happiness and the life they had yearned for 🙂



    • Not totally clear why you think being interested in money is somehow a less worthy hobby to have. I’m passionate about personal finance the same way I’m passionate about travel or fitness — it’s just something I enjoy. I would prefer to research stocks than paint a picture, and there’s nothing wrong with this. Furthermore, the payoff is substantial: because I’ve taken care of my finances I have the freedom in both money and time to pursue my other interests, including furthering my education, travelling the world, and enjoying time with friends & family.

      By starting to save for retirement at 25, I have money at my disposal should I need to pay my MBA tuition or to put a down-payment on my first home. Doesn’t seem unworthy of thinking about does it? Likewise because I started saving early and aggressively, I’ll probably be able to retire at age 40 if I want to (I probably won’t want to, I enjoy working). I don’t really think that thinking 15 years in the future is unreasonable.

      I don’t know what my life will be like in 5 years, but I know I’ll have a lot of choices because I will have a lot of money. I’ll have the freedom to take time off work to raise a family or travel, or pursue something totally new. This hardly sounds “meticulously planned” or limiting in any way.

      • You are clearly a bitter miser. You attack everyone who disagrees with you. It’s oppressive to read these ridiculous comments you reply with. I am completely done with your blog.

  • I like your guidelines to do before 30. Your article is thought provoking so much it literally took me 30 mins to read most of the comments here and your replies to them. While its nice to be where you are now, you can’t really criticize others for not being financially independent as you are. Thats the impression i got from your response. Not everything is bubbles and butterflies with a golden rainbow at the end for everyone. But everyone needs to take a look at themselves and strive for the better whether it be financial, job, family, health, situation, etc. Only you can make the change and no need to get mad at one’s opinion.

  • Bridget…good blog. This is the internet though and there will always be some poor victim coming out of the woodwork to complain that they have 3 kids and MS and live on a disability check and can’t work extra or reduce costs any further because they are already surviving on only one can of tuna fish a month…and Bridget it’s all your fault that their life is that way and how dare you suggest they try for more.

    This blog probably isn’t for those people.

    For the rest of us, this is a good guideline of milestones we should try to be hitting. As someone else helpfully pointed out, when you start to reach some of them, it will snowball into other areas. I think getting started is the hardest part. For me my retirement account started with $50. Now I’m at 20k and I’m 29 years old. I want to have at least 25k in there by age 30 and I always look for ways to toss some extra money in there.It’s become fun, kind of like a game at this point.

    • Thank you!

      Congrats on your awesome progress. I agree, it totally becomes a game — and more money feels like progressively bigger wins. I find it invigorating to find new ways to make and grow money. There’s a lot of fun in it.

  • “If you’re planning to pay off all your debts, get married, buy a home, have a child, get a promotion, buy a new car, and save $50,000 for retirement by age 30, you might need a reality check.”

    Why is this unrealistic? If you change “new car” to “new used car” and double the retirement savings, I guarantee all boxes can be ticked by 30 on an average income if your priorities were actually these goals all along.

    • Most 22 year olds, or even 25 year olds don’t have these as priorities. For most people school costs an arm and a leg. Houses are prohibitively expensive. Having a family costs money and time out of the workforce.

      I spent 7 of the 10 years of my 20’s in school. It cost me over $70,000 in tuition and six years out of the workforce. The average price of a detached home in my city is nearly $600,000. I already own a used car, so I guess we can tick that one of the list, and my wedding is in the Fall and is going to cost barely anything so that’s good too, but you’re telling me I should also have $100K saved for retirement, as well as put a six-figure downpayment on a house, and had a baby? Sorry friend, I ran out of $$$.

      • Thanks for the prompt reply.

        “Most 22 year olds, or even 25 year olds don’t have these as priorities.”

        If none of these are most people’s priorities upon graduating college, what are their priorities?

        “I spent 7 of the 10 years of my 20’s in school. It cost me over $70,000 in tuition and six years out of the workforce.”

        Most students spend four years in university, which would save $30k and add three years of income in your example, along with allowing for a raise.

        “The average price of a detached home in my city is nearly $600,000.”

        While the most controversial on the list for multiple reasons (your aversion to owning and mine to the low U.S. standards for 3.5% down – I prefer 20%), most people don’t live in an area with $600k homes, or if they do (hand raised) they move to a suburb or find a job that pays accordingly – again, if buying a home is a priority.

        Congrats on the upcoming wedding, and again thank you for your perspective. In any case, as you’ve mentioned in previous responses, these goals can be scalable and personalized to accommodate a specific person’s scenario. Best of luck.

        • haha have you hung out with 22-25 year olds lately? Most of them are just hoping to find a job that doesn’t suck, move out of mom & dad’s house, and party as much as possible. They don’t think about saving $100K for retirement (or saving for retirement at all). I wish more than anyone that young people had developed financial goals, but few do.

          Plenty of students go on to graduate or professional school like I did. I would have pocketed about $40,000 and gotten two raises in the time it took me to do my MBA, but going back to school resulted in a 40% salary increase. I’ve calculated it will take 3 years for my MBA to pay off — which makes for some poor years in my twenties, but baller years in my thirties and beyond. A worthy sacrifice.

          You only need to put 5% down to own a home in Canada, which is what many do because it’s the only way they can afford to. You say most people don’t live in an area with $600K homes, which may be true where you live, but it’s the norm (even low priced) for Canada’s major cities: Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary where an overheated real estate market is the norm for millions of people. Suburbia is the worst, and as I have explained before, moving there would necessitate purchasing a second car, which my fiance and I don’t want to do. We like minimal walking commutes, and the affordability of sharing a single vehicle.
          As for the salary required to purchase a $600K home, I do have that (thanks to the MBA) but why would I do so when I live in a region where house prices are declining? So long as oil stays low, so will the home prices in Calgary. I’ll wait for a more ideal entry point, I’m not about to put $100,000 into an asset that’s been falling in price for the past 8 months.

  • Preemptive apologies for my English if it isn’t native enough (I’m originally from China but went to a one-year law program in the US).

    I’ve been a lurking reader for a few months, and frankly am finally posting only because I am quite astounded at the sense of entitlement that some people seem to harbor from the comments of this post. While it is understandable that some cannot reach these goals by 30 due to illness or accidents (which only illustrate the importance of having insurance, btw), there’s no question that for at least some people, their poor unsatisfactory financial situation was the result of poor decision making (dragging out school while having no job prospects or certainty of paying loans, putting life enjoyment before savings etc). This post is not designed and certainly not obligated to make you feel better if you are one of these people. Quite frankly, you are probably where you are now because your feelings have been protected from the soft-tone “oh everything’s gonna be okay”s you have received all your life.

    Contrary to what these people might like to imagine to make themselves feel better, not everyone (or, rarely anyone) is financially on the right track because they were born with a golden spoon or were the recipient of a windfall of inheritance. Rather it is a combination of hard work, self-education, discipline and most of all, self-awareness and drive. I work in a high-stress job that bills average 12 hours per day and often face unreasonable demands from clients. Am I passionate about it? Not quite? Will I quit because “my employer is disrespectful and the work environment isn’t ideal”? Not until I have a better option down my belt. No one is obligated to make me feel good at my job – that’s what the money is for. Likewise, no one is supposed to make you feel less crappy because of your own inaction and attitude. Bridget actually has in her other posts detailed instructions on how to get a side job, ask for a raise, etc. At the end of the day, these, and not coddling words, will make you richer, stronger and more free.

    It’s so easy to complain. Finding external factors for your setback is all too convenient. But it’s also getting old and won’t help yourself in the short or long term. Instead of demanding apologies for someone shoving hard love, maybe try taking action instead. Again, Bridget could apologize, but I honestly don’t think that will change her financial situation or yours. You doing things differently, however, could at least be a better start.

  • I’m almost 20 and have almost $2000 saved up for retirement. Lets hope 10 years is enough to save up another $2300.

  • Hah! At 31, your list made me feel like shit. Great.

    Was binge reading “purpose of life” articles, and this came through google’s web of shit that might relate to whatever you search for.

    What a god awful slap in the face.

  • I love this list but I do believe it is for a select group of individuals as there are so many reasons someone would not have reached nay of this by 30. However, I do believe it is a good list to use to educate younger generations. I think most of reading should not take this to heart as someone calling us a failure or anything and if you have not done this by 30 and you are over 30 then use it as goals to reach by 40. All in all none of this are impossible or impractical. I would like to point out that education on finance is a concept lost on many. There are many principles that re not even fully discovered until late 20s for many and by this time they have already developed bad habits and even with the education the understanding of application has to be found out as well. Yet and still this list is awesome, I am 33 and I will not even go into what I have hit as far as goals because it probably is not many but I definitely will be using this as goals to hit by 40. Some as goals to hit by next year even. And even still some to hit by 35. Thank you for sharing this list.

  • Started working on my 2016 yearly goals, and remembered – Bridget wrote a list, let’s check back on that for guidance! I cannot believe the amount of negativity in the comments, though so many people have already spoken up for you. I want to do the same, and to say THANK YOU! In my mind, all of these items ARE achievable. I am thankful for my good health, but also my strong work ethic in this quest.

    Bridget, keep doing you (and make another list! 🙂 ). I am 24, and will be debt free (graduated from my undergrad with $47 000 in debt) by the end of 2016 (the BHAG is before my birthday in August). I have gotten here living on my own, building an emergency fund, working in a non profit (with 3 side jobs), and while earning two college diplomas to compliment my undergrad. Was it fun? Not really (there have been long working hours, missed nights out with friends, and tears). Was it easy? Heck no. But is it worth it to be financially independent and prepared for my future? Absolutely. Bridget, I have you (and a few other lovely ladies in the PF world who blog) to thank for the support, guidance and laughs along the way. Oh, and I’m 24/30. I’ll get on the tenant insurance, I promise!

    Thanks again, lady!

    • Michelle! Thank you for your amazing comment this totally made my day!! Congratulations on your success — having 24 out of 30 already at the age of 24 is AMAZING. You are going to smash the rest of these goals!

      Thank you for reading, I am so happy to hear these stories!

      • I am a 25 year old married military veteran and college student with no kids. I started college right before my 24th birthday after I was honorably discharged. I have 60+ credits towards my bachelors that I accumulated in about 1 1/2 years.
        I find this list to be very motivating and not offensive at all. I myself am not close to finishing this list as many of these goals I consider the most important I have not yet reached (Ive completed 21/30). For all those that claim this is offensive or impossible to do due to economic/family/disadvantages etc… I want to say your limiting yourself by your lack of faith. I was a foster kid, then a ward of the state, homeless, and even an inmate…all before 20 years old. I admit I got a lucky break, but I capitalized on the opportunities I received and turned my life around. Now I have a beautiful career oriented wife, been around the world twice, have a full ride to a university, a squeaky clean record, 4+ years experience in my field, and I live in a condo in one of the most breathtaking places on earth (Hawaii).

        I know what its like to have nothing…I was the definition of disadvantaged at one point. But for the most part it is a choice of what you value and what you want to be. I wanted better for myself and those I love and thats what I believe this post is trying to convey.
        If your offended you obviously feel inferior because of someone’s opinion and thats a personal problem. Don’t get mad…get busy.

        Great post!

        • Awesome comment. I can see both sides of the coin in this case. First is that this is a collection of great goals for financial security. I’m currently serving in the military right now and there’s definitely the people who feel like victims right off the bat and those who know it’s going to suck but still take advantage of every opportunity that comes their way. It wasn’t required for me to go online for an MBA while going on TDY and training all the time but I thought it was an interesting venue so decided to pursue it. The military was fronting the bill for half the tuition, so a bit more pain on my end means alot more credentials when I decide to get out.

          The other side of it is that not everyone is going to have the same opportunities. Sometimes people do need the reassurance that where they’re at is just fine for their own development. I’ve had times when I was down and out and felt like nothing could go right, and it was friends and family that saw me through, never would have made it on my own. If you’re in that situation, it’s ok! Not everyone is going to hit 30/30 on their 30th, but after you address whatever situation you’re in, start looking for those little opportunities and start chalking up a few more in the win column, success begets success, so even saving a tiny bit can have a huge impact later on down the road.

  • Oh my, lots of whining about how this can’t be done rather than taking this as motivation to improve your finances. Yes, there are a few that can’t achieve this due to medical issues, etc, but most people could achieve this if they work at it. It’s not easy, but it is doable. I wish people would stop the self pity, take that awful feeling of not meeting these goals yet, and channel it into motivation to improve!

    Would love to see a similar post for 40. I am 30 and got 28/30 (missed in #19 and #27).

  • Hey, guys! I’m 26 and F***ED! 🙂

  • George P Tria
    June 6, 2016 10:01 pm

    These are all correct. #FinancialFreedom

  • Good list.

    People have to understand that a list like this is merely a loose guideline, and quite frankly if you’re a single mother in your 20s or 30s, this list doesn’t apply to you. As sad as it may seem, odds are that you will NOT achieve any type of financial freedom. You need to accept that it can take about $250k to raise a child. Having a child or not is entirely your decision and the consequences (good or bad) are the cards you’ve dealt for yourself.

    The purpose of the blog is not be to make everybody feel like they can reach the same goal. Many cannot due to circumstance and/or life choices. The blog is aimed at people prepared to my the choices that lend themselves to financial success. The reality is that building wealth requires certain amounts of dollars earned and saved over specific periods of time. Work toward that – and if you meet it you can clearly reach the financial goals outlined.

    Secondly, this blog obviously applies to Canadians, not Americans. The author lives in Alberta, Canada. The United States is a whole different ball game when it comes to school debt. If you’re carrying $100k+ of school debt after graduating in your 30s, good luck as you will need a lot of it.

  • I had over $25000 at 25 but an unstable job market and bad luck with my career has made that very tricky. Ah well, it’s slowly building back up again after a collective 10 months out of work over the past 2 years. It could be worse. I know a 30 year old who only has $800 in his joint savings with his wife (they have a kid but still!). I also am aware of many people who change careers multiple times past the age of 30 in their life so I think perhaps career paths are quite fluid in nature and are affected by a shifting economy and job market supply and demand. These are all very nice ideal goals to aim for but few are realistic in this day and age. Particularly if you are $50,000 AU + in debt from a uni/college degree (mine is gov funded as I’m in Australia so I don’t have to pay it back til I’m earning above the threshold, but it earns interest and will take me a lifetime to pay off).

  • I was curious to read that article, but so disappointed. Most of the things make sense (common sense), but some things just do not… lol Debt free? really at 30? People usually graduate from post-secondary education at 24-25 and the student loan is usually for 9 years…do the math. Mortgage? At 30 you have a home and debt…
    A regular contribution to charity? Do I really have to comment on this? The article is called ‘‘30 Financial Milestones You Need To Hit By Age 30’’. What type of financial milestone is that? I do give to charity, but there is no financial advantage to it unless you donate a ton of money.
    A profitable side income? Sure…but there is not enough jobs for everybody to have a sideline job and most of us work 40 to 50 hours a week…
    In the habit of regularly checking my credit report? That’s VERY important….no not at all. What is the point seriously? I pay all my bills on time and I already have a car and a house. Why would I check my credit report …. Like ever?
    Have $25 000+ saved for retirement? Wake up buttercup we all start working around 24-25 years old and there is no way to save up $25 000 in 5 years unless you live with your parents, do not have car payments or anything. If you start working before that age, you probably did not pursue post-secondary education and will most likely not making a lot of money and be able to save 25 g in 5 years.

    A lot of things are duable on this list..probably all of them, but please be realistic. That was probably written by a banker who makes more than the average worker.

    • Yikes Johnny,

      I would say that if you have a 401k through your employer and you invest in it every pay check, having $25,000 by 30 is feasible if you started at age 24. Obviously every circumstance is different.

      You should always check your credit score every year to make sure your identity has not been stolen. That is common advice.

      Being able to give to charity is a milestone because if your able to do so on a monthly basis its likely because your financially sound.

    • You certainly don’t have to be a banker to save that much, but I do think the difference here is the owning a house or not. Personally, as someone who makes a good salary (not banker good by any means) in the most expensive city in Canada I rent because that is the more responsible decision when to own a home in my city the average cost is more than 1mil+. By renting, it allows me to funnel the 4x cost of having a mortgage/maintenance/taxes into savings. That means I save around 15k a year which is 25% of my gross income (I’m not married, no kids, live with roommates for context – and I did an undergrad which i finished at age 21 and had been working 2 years prior to that part time in advertising which is my field). If I owned a home all of that would be going towards home repayment and maintenance. In that context, I think you considered your mortgage as savings (which many people do since it’s an asset) then you will realize you have more ‘saved’ than you think 🙂

  • I’m pretty proud to say I have everything except the $25,000 saved for retirement. We’re still digging ourselves out of our negative net worth for the next couple of years, but after that point we’ll be able to positively save for retirement–while under the age of 30. I hope to save over $25,000 long before that point!

    • I feel compelled to point this out since I’m reading your response as you not actually reading the content. It appears #2 and #20 have also not been completed in your case.

  • Everything is very open with a very clearclearprecisereally clear explanationdescriptionclarification of the issueschallenges. It was trulyreallydefinitely informative. Your website isYour site is very usefulvery helpfulextremely helpfuluseful. Thanks forThank you forMany thanks for sharing!

  • I read this three times a year since it was first shared with me back in 2014. It’s amazing how many things have changed to “Yes” over the years and it feels like a nice way to measure progress.


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