Five Money Milestones by Age 30 (More Like Your First Real Job)

While browsing the web I came across this video the other day “Five Money Milestones by Age 30”. They suggest the five following milestones:

  1. Build an Emergency Fund (Six Months of Expenses)
  2. Start Planning for Retirement
  3. Manage Your Debt Load
  4. Set a Monthly Budget and Stick to It
  5. Set Yourself Up for Your Future – Start Saving Now!

I agree with the video. These are great goals! However, I think there is a MAJOR issue with the video. They are goals for when you turn 30. The real subject matter should be “Five Money Milestones with Your First Real Job”.

So, what do I mean by “Your First Real Job”? I believe that your first real job is your first job after graduating high school if you do not choose to go to college or vocational school. If you go to college or vocational school, it would be your first job after you graduate from that. Are you already past your first real job? No worries, start today! It is never to late to start and the sooner the better.

Here are some tips to achieve the goals.

  • Build an Emergency Fund

Your emergency fund doesn’t have to be six months straight away and the true size of your emergency fund may vary depending on your circumstances. Start with a goal of $1,000 and then set up an automatic transfer to your emergency fund each paycheck. Even setting aside $25, $50, or $100 a paycheck will pay off in the long run.

  • Start Planning for Retirement

If you start with your first real job, you have a great advantage in this category. Set aside as much as possible for retirement now because you won’t be used to having the extra money. If you never knew you had it you won’t miss it. Contribute at LEAST enough to earn your full employer match if they offer one. If you don’t it is like giving away free money. Time is on your side by starting early.

  • Manage Your Debt Load

Hopefully at this point the only debt you may have is student loan debt and maybe a small car loan. Make sure you make the minimum payments on all of your debt and if you decide to pay additional make sure to pay additional toward the highest interest rate debt.

  • Set a Monthly Budget and Stick to It

This is a topic for a more in depth post down the road, but set a reasonable budget you can adhere to. Track your spending and then compare it to your budget to stay on target for your goals.

  • Set Yourself Up for Your Future – Start Saving Now!

This can easily be incorporated into your monthly budget . When you make a financial goal, determine how much your goal will cost and a date you want to accomplish it by. Divide the cost by the number of months until your goal date and that will give you how much you have to save a month to reach your goal on time.

What do you think about the Five Milestones in the video? Do you have any other changes or additional suggestions? Let me know in the comments below.

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About Lance Cothern

Lance Cothern, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia, is the founder of Money Manifesto. You can read more about him here or connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest.


  1. Being over 30, I can agree with each of these. If I had to add something, I’d say to start thinking outside the box and think of ways you can make money outside your job by adding new income streams – rent, dividends, blog income, etc.

    • Definitely a valid point. Right now I am considering buying a rental property with some family. I also would be happy if my blog ever starts generating some income but I know that would be far down the road.

  2. Great Tips! Establishing a financial base in your 20s is extremely important!

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