No matter what stage of life you’re in, it’s never too early–or late–to begin managing your finances. Here are some tips for financial success at any age.
Kids. Parents or guardians should begin teaching their children about basic money concepts as soon as they are able to understand what money is and how it works. There are plenty of games, books, toys, and other educational tools available to help you do this. Among them are The Millionaire Kids Club book series ($12.95; Advantage World Press) by Lynnette Khalfani-Cox and Susan Beacham and the Money Savvy Pig.
20s. Don’t be tempted by the credit card offers that will surely come your way (you won’t get offers if you’re under the age of 21—card issuers are not allowed to offer credit unless you can provide proof of a means to pay the bill or an adult over 21 cosigns your application). If you decide to get credit—and you have a means to pay the bill—don’t get more than two cards. Any more than that and you’ll have trouble keeping up with payments. You’ll also be tempted to charge more.
30s. Take this time to pay down all high-interest debt and aggressively build up an emergency savings fund. You should have at least 6 to 8 months of expenses in reserve. And if you’re newly engaged, congratulations—but don’t break the bank on a lavish wedding.
Middle age. In your 40s and 50s, retirement should be top of mind now more than ever. Make sure that you’re taking full advantage of your company’s retirement plan. Contribute at least enough to receive the full match. Also make sure that you haven’t underestimated your time horizon. You don’t want to run out of money too soon.
60s and beyond. Continue to work closely with your financial planner to make sure you are carefully managing your money.