Financial Goals to Reach Before You Turn 30

When you're in your 20s, you go through a lot of changes. You may graduate from college and start your first job. You may move onto a second job and work your way up the career ladder. You may return to graduate school to get a master's degree. On a more personal note, you may get married and start a family.

It is difficult to set milestones for this decade because people take different career and life paths. However, these five goals will benefit you no matter which direction your life takes. If you take these steps and follow a financial plan, you may be on the way to being financially successful throughout your life. 

Get Out of Debt

Grandparents and granddaughter at college graduation, before she experiences student loan repayments

andresr / Getty Images

Although you may not be able to pay off your entire student loan balance by the time you are 30, you should take the steps needed to work toward that. You should also pay off any credit card debt you have.

When you manage your debt well and pay it off, doors can open for the other steps in your life, like owning a home or purchasing a new car. Take the time now to set up a debt payment plan so that you can get out of debt, or consider a debt reduction software program to help you become debt-free even faster.

If you have large student loan payments, look into one of the repayment plan options that can help you save money on your monthly payment, or even have some or all of your student loans forgiven.

Plan for Retirement

Happy retired couple who planned their retirement early in life
Tom Merton / Getty Images

Starting with your first job, try saving at least 15% of your pre-tax income for retirement. If you begin doing this at your very first job, you will start amassing a quality nest egg early. Plus, once you get into the habit of putting this money aside, you won't even miss it.

If you decide to leave the workforce to pursue a continuing education degree or something else, the money in your retirement account will continue growing. You contribute again once you reenter the workforce.

Save for a Down Payment on a Home

Young couple shaking hands with realtor in their new house after saving for their down payment
Hero Images / Getty Images

While saving at least 20% for a down payment on a home has a lot of benefits, it's not always the right choice. Either way, you'll likely need to save some cash to cover a down payment if you want to buy a new home. For example, you may need only 3.5% for a down payment if securing an FHA loan, or you may need at least 20% for a conventional 30-year mortgage.

Depending on your life choices, you may purchase your first home in your 20s, or you may wait until you are in your 30s. It depends on your situation, single or married, and career choices. However, saving this money will help you be ready when the time comes. 

Focus on Your Career

A group of young people starting their career in a business meeting
Hinterhaus Productions / Getty Images

This is a great time to establish a solid career. Take the time to create a solid professional network and to consider all of the options that are available to you. Your 20s are a great time to explore different options.

If you are single, you can move to different cities to pursue your dream job, and you can also really focus on establishing a good reputation. This can help you if you decide to start working as a consultant or freelancing as your family situation changes in the future. 

Establish Good Financial Habits

Money saved in different jars labeled Retirement, Vacation, College, and House

Jamie Grill / Getty Images

It's important to take the time to establish good financial habits in your 20s. This means managing your credit well and fixing any mistakes like late payments that you have made in the past. It means creating and following your budget every month. If you have the foundation of good financial habits set, it will be easier to keep moving forward as life gets more complicated with kids, relationships, or career moves. 

Establishing a good emergency fund can help you handle things like a surprise layoff or sudden illness without going into debt.

Paying down debt, saving money for goals and retirement, finding a steady and successful career, and establishing smart habits now can pay off in the future.

The Balance does not provide tax, investment, or financial services and advice. The information is being presented without consideration of the investment objectives, risk tolerance, or financial circumstances of any specific investor and might not be suitable for all investors. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal.