I’m proud of the fact that, I achieved a couple major financial goals in my 20s, namely paying off all my credit card debt and building a career that has allowed me to save money every month. But this November, I will turn 32 — hmm, that’s sort of upsetting to actually see written down — and it’s time for new goals. I was planning on writing about the financial goals I plan to achieve by age 35, but upon realizing that I really only have three years until then (for some reason, I felt like my 30th birthday was yesterday), this list is now going to have a more general timeline. Won’t you join me and list your goals as well?
1. Pay off my student loans. My tuition at the University of California at Santa Cruz was basically paid for with a little money from my parents and a whole heck of a lot of student loans. I have been paying off the latter — slowly! — since I graduated 10 years ago. I’ve got the balance down to the lower five figures after paying a little above the minimum each month; always paying on time has been one way I’ve maintained good credit over the years. However, my mom said something to me this weekend about how this whole debt ceiling crisis thing is probably going to make the interest on what I owe go up, so now I think I’m going to start making significantly bigger payments. I would really like to have the whole shebang paid off in full before I turn 35.
2. Really assess my monthly expenses. Given that I can find 99 percent of the TV shows I watch online the day after they’ve aired on TV, do I really need to pay for cable? Or is paying for cable one of those adult luxuries I really want, whether I need it or not? Likewise, it’s been a long time since I last took a good hard look at my cellphone bill and justified the amount of minutes/text messages I was paying for versus what I used. While I’m lucky enough at this point in my life not to be living month to month, that good fortune has made me lazier about making sure I’m not just wasting money. By the end of the year, just after my 32nd birthday, I plan on analyzing both of these expenses and making adjustments that hopefully suit my lifestyle better and save me money.
3. Sell and/or make a decision about what to do with my engagement ring. I wrote about needing to do this (and feeling guilty about it) months ago, but I still haven’t gotten very far in actually doing it. In fairness, I did do some research and the jeweler that made it recommended I wait till closer to the holidays when I might get a better offer. So, my plan is to actually follow through on that recommendation and sell it if I can get what would be considered a fair price. If I decide not to sell it, I am going to turn it into another piece of jewelry. It doesn’t really hold any emotional significance to me anymore — and I’m definitely over feeling guilty — which is why my first choice is to sell it; but it’s a very beautiful piece of jewelry and I would hate to sell it for significantly less than I know it was “worth” originally, only to have someone else turn it into something fugs.
4. Buy property. In an ideal world, I would very much like to purchase a piece of property that I live in full-time. Given that I live in New York City, one of the most expensive markets in the country — possibly the world? — that might not happen. My ex and I explored home ownership here, so I’m familiar with just how little space you get for your money. While your home make appreciate significantly in value, you generally have to hold onto it for a long period of time. But if children are in my future — and, god willing, they are — living in a tiny space, even one that I own, is not going to be very feasible. While I could rent out any place I buy pre-kids, I’m not sure I would want the responsibility of having a tenant. However, I’ve read a bit about urban dwellers like myself buying “second” homes outside of the city — in upstate New York, for example — instead, especially if their jobs are flexible about working outside of an office. Buying property anywhere, of course, is more likely to happen if I were to merge my savings/life with that of a handsome, loving partner with working sperm. So, goal for the next five or so years: meet awesome baby daddy with desire to own property that has space for a hammock.
5. Take my 401K/IRA seriously. I am ashamed to admit I have never fully paid attention during any meeting about my 401K or my IRA or my [insert personal finance acronym]. Will Social Security even exist by the time I am of retiring age? I feel like I should proceed as if the answer is a resounding “NO.” The first step in doing so is to stop picking at my nail polish and daydreaming about banging the hot tall dude I’ve been “talking” with lately and actually pay attention during next week’s 401K meeting. The second step is picking up a book or two that explains the basics of such things to easily distracted financial ding-a-lings like myself. The third is to meet with my tax guy and set up an easy-to-understand system that has all of my financial info and documents in one place so I have no excuse for not knowing what’s going on. The fourth is to sit back and watch the money pile grow.
So, now it’s your turn: what are your financial goals for the next decade of your life?