Budgeting for Life’s Stages
It’s no secret that the older you get, the more money you try to save. But what about for younger generations?
Most young people aren’t too focused on financial planning for far into the future, but it’s crucial that you take the time to invest in your future financial plans no matter what age you are. As you enter different stages of your life, you’ll likely want to budget and plan your finances differently.
Though everyone’s life stages vary by age and life events, there are generally five different life stages that you’ll want to plan for financially. Here are some suggestions for how and when you should budget for the different stages of life:
- Teenage Years. During your teenage years, you’re likely learning about some of the basic concepts of money and making some of your first large purchases, like a car or a phone. You’re probably not thinking about saving for the future, and that’s mostly OK. If you can afford to buy things you want, rather than things you need, then it’s OK to spend money on mostly frivolous things. If you’re a parent, however, now is a great time to teach your children the importance of budgeting, how to open a savings account, avoiding debt, and instilling good financial values.
- Young Adult. As a young adult, you’re probably starting to support yourself without too much financial support from parents, family members, or other guardians. If you’ve gone to college, you might be planning to use your income to start paying off any student debt you’ve accumulated. If you’re starting your career, you’re probably budgeting your expenses for the first time. Additionally, you’ll begin the foundation for your retirement fund when starting your career. With this in mind, it’s essential to be mindful of your spending and start prioritizing some things over others: avoid buying those $6 lattes and ordering pizza when you can eat at home. Though it seems like a small expense, it can add up over time and take more out of your savings than you think!
- Family Planning. Once you reach your late 20s or early 30s, you’ll probably begin thinking about budgeting for a family, whether that means getting married, having kids, or taking care of aging family members. This means having enough money and saving enough money, not only for yourself but also for others. If you’re married, decide on a comfortable budget for both of you, when you’ll want to retire, and how you’ll want to financially support children as they get older. For example, if your kids decide to go to college, will you pay for that? If so, beginning an education fund for them is essential. If you’re supporting older family members, you’ll want to put money aside for health expenses, home assistance, or senior living communities.
- Retirement Planning. Towards the middle of your career, you’ll start wanting to plan more for retirement and establishing a solid fund so you can retire with a comfortable amount in the bank. This also means determining how you want to retire and how much you’ll need to save to do that. Do you want to live abroad for a year? Are you planning on downsizing your home to put more money into your savings? Or does retirement mean still working but scaling back on hours? All of these decisions will impact how much you’ll want to save and how you’ll do it.
- Retirement. Once you’ve retired, hopefully you’ve saved enough to live comfortably without a steady income from working. You may also want to consider scaling back on some expenses. Find things you may not need anymore and cut them out of your budget entirely, and even re-do your budget to make sure you’re not spending more than you can afford.
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