First Person: Making Sure I Meet My Financial Milestones

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When I bought my first house, I felt a great sense of achievement. I was married, had a steady full-time job and money in the bank. After having kids and going from two incomes to one, I didn't have quite as much money in my emergency fund. Yet, according to Kiplinger.com, there are certain money milestones one should meet in their 20s. Now, that I'm in my 30s, I'm glad a met a lot of my financial milestones. After all, it has given me some stability in an uncertain economy.

Graduating Debt-Free

I have zero student loans. For the most part, I can thank my parents for this. However, my parents were not the types to pay for me to go to school forever. Thus, I knew I couldn't change my degree several times. In addition, I made sure to take a heavy course load and graduated with a B.A. in three and a half years. I went on to take an intensive graduate program for an additional year that resulted in a Master's Degree and a teaching credential. I worked part-time to cover costs such as food and books. As G.E. Miller says in the Kiplinger article, it's important to "graduate and move on." Don't spend years of time and money jumping from one major to the next. I went to school for four and a half years and then immediately entered into the workforce. It helped me stay out of debt.

Being a Homeowner

When we first got married, my husband and I purchased a townhouse. Less than two years later, we sold it for $100,000 over the purchase price. We were able to buy a bigger house. Although the housing market has been dismal, the value of our house has been going up this year.

Having a Retirement Account

Before we had kids, my husband and I started a Roth 403B. At the time, we had a double income without children so we had some extra money to put away. For the time being, we have stopped contributing to our account. However, when I go back to teaching, I will continue to put more money away for retirement.

Creating a Strong Professional Network

According to the same Kiplinger article, when you enter the workforce it's important to "build a strong network." I have never burned any bridges in the workforce. I have letters of recommendation from nearly every administrator and dean I have worked with. I have positive interactions with former colleagues.

Getting Married and Having Children

According to a money milestone article from Refinery 29, only 22% of millennials (turning 30 in 2010) were married. Those who did tie the knot spent quite a bit of money on their nuptials. In fact, in 2012, the average cost of a wedding was $28,400. When I got married, I kept my wedding costs under $10,000. Now, I have been married for 10 years and have two children. My kids are four years apart in school so we won't be paying for two college tuitions at the same time. Yes, kids are expensive, but they aren't as expensive as some people make them out to be. In fact, as I wrote about here, my baby's first year cost us only $2,600.

I may need a little bit more in my emergency fund. And, I may need to live below my means a bit more. However, as I approach my mid-30s, I happy to be able to check off some important financial milestones.

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