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Now is the time to plan your money goals for your future. Most young adults must learn to be financially independent in order to survive.Unfortunately, pursuing a college degree can lead to serious student loan debt. It is increasingly difficult to start a successful career without the right degree. The price of rent, childcare, health care and many other adulting costs are increasing way faster than wages. There is no rule for when you need to have your finances figured out, but it is important to set realistic money goals to set yourself up for success.

Make a budget to fit your money goals

Are you concerned with paying for college, buying a house, paying off debt, preparing for retirement, or moving out of your parent’s house? You need a budget! Check out this blog on budgeting for some good tips https://molentax.com/do-i-need-a-budget/. Your budget doesn’t have to be a set of strict rules on how you spend your money. I prefer to use a flexible budget that clearly outlines my monthly expenses but can be adjusted whenever my priorities change. A working budget is the first step to reaching your financial milestones.

Marriage

Your goals to hit by 35 will depend on several factors including your marital status. If you choose to tie the knot there will be plenty of things on your to-do list, but here are a few things you will not want to forget.

  1. Create a joint budget. There are plenty of strategies when it comes to paying bills and managing income, and it usually falls on one spouse to do the work. If you are the financial planner of your household, work with your significant other to create yours, mine and ours bank accounts. Figure out what bills will be shared and set up automatic payments from the joint account.
  1. Pay off debt. If you or your other half had a bunch of credit card debt, tax debt or student loans before getting married, it is still the original debtor’s responsibility to make the payments. In Texas, any debts created while married will legally be both of your responsibility. Regardless of who spent the money, it should be a top priority to pay it off.
  1. Change your tax withholding. This is only sound advice if you are marrying a spouse who does not work or makes very little income. By changing your filing status from single to married, you will keep more of your paycheck by sending less to the IRS each check.

Buying a house with a money goal

Whether you have a family or live alone, buying a home is an important financial milestone because you get the risk and reward of home ownership. A common expression is that “renting is throwing away money”. While there is some truth to this, this generalization does not apply to many young people who are still figuring out their lives. Renting makes much more sense if you don’t like the idea of maintaining a home, you don’t have a steady source of income, or if you just aren’t ready to settle into one location.

The reason buying a house can make renting look like a waste of money is because you are able to build equity, deduct interest and taxes, and eventually pay off your mortgage! There are many fees and prepaid expenses that go into a home purchase, and your down payment could be in the tens of thousands. Fortunately, there are many mortgage assistance programs that can roll these costs into the loan making your upfront costs next to nothing. The more expensive the mortgage, the more your lender will expect you to earn, so it’s important to figure out how much house you can afford before making any commitments. If you stay in your home and make your mortgage payments on time, you will build your wealth and set yourself up for a cheaper retirement.

Retirement Planning

Most people hope to retire in their 50’s and 60’s but find out they can’t afford it without planning or setting money goals. You may be eligible for Social Security benefits as soon as age 62, but this income alone was never meant to sustain you through retirement. Even if you have a pension plan that will supplement your income when you decide to retire, you need to ensure that it is enough to cover your monthly expenses. For most of us, we must rely on our own contributions to a 401k or IRA to prepare for a happy retirement. The “tax advantage” of these types of account is that you are not taxed on your yearly earnings.

For more information on the common types of retirement accounts check out my blog https://molentax.com/401k-versus-ira/. Retirement investing can be as simple as putting $100 away from each paycheck into a mutual fund and leaving it alone until you turn 65. The important thing to consider when putting money away is how much you will need to meet your goals. Most who retire in their 60’s will need more than a million dollars in funds to replace their income as an employee, so it is important to talk to a Certified Financial Planner as soon as possible. Brandy Ariza, CFP works with my clients to create retirement plans and will be happy to help you build your financial vision.

Investing

Once you feel confident in your retirement plan, it makes sense to focus on investing for shorter-term goals. Stocks and bonds are common financial assets that earn interest and dividends for the owner. Investing strategies vary in risk, cost, and time consumption, but anyone can start a managed account in a mutual fund for a small price. Unlike retirement accounts, taxable investment accounts will provide you with a tax statement every year reporting your earnings as income that will need to be taxed.

Also, you can access these investments at any time without facing the dreaded 10% early withdrawal penalty. Short-term investments are a great way to save money for goals beyond your rainy-day fund. Even though these accounts are taxable, with enough patience and timing you can save for short-term goals such as a vacation, college, buying a house or anything that is far enough away to allow your money to grow. https://www.reddit.com/r/personalfinance/wiki/mid_career

Implement Your Retirement Plan

Do you plan to retire young, or work until you are too old to go on? Most people hope to retire by the time they turn 65. Turning 65 is not an automatic trigger to retire, but it is an important age to set goals around for the following reasons:

  1. You will be eligible for Medicare. Medicare premiums are very low with a deductible around $200 a year! There are other medical insurance payments to consider, but Medicare is a cornerstone of retirement security.
  2. You may be eligible for an increased Social Security benefit. While eligibility begins at age 62, the monthly payout doesn’t max out until you turn 70.
  3. You can take penalty-free withdrawals from your retirement accounts, and pensions can begin paying out. While it’s good to avoid touching retirement accounts if possible, the penalty for doing so ends at 65.

You should talk with your financial advisor about what age you can reasonably retire. The longer you hold off, the less you need to worry about running out of funds. Set up a free consultation with Brandy today and be sure to ask your tax advisor about IRS rules around retirement.

Austin Long
Tax Advisor, EA

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