You have 20/20 vision with hindsight as you look back on things you wish you’d done sooner. No matter how old you get, you’re always learning something new. If you had the wisdom of your 50s when you were 20, what would your past self do with that knowledge? Planning ahead plays a major role in creating your happy and comfortable life, no matter what age you are. Take a decade-by-decade look at the most beneficial future foundation building available for achieving your dreams and enjoying yourself.
You entered adulthood thinking you knew it all — only to realize that you had no real idea what was going on. The 20s holds many missteps as you find your footing in the real world, which often makes it the decade that would benefit the most from your current wisdom. Many parents present college as the end-all, be-all expectation, but 20-year-olds are in the process of figuring out what they want out of life.
Choosing a major and potentially committing to substantial debt works out well when you enjoy the degree and enter the career path, but 70 percent of students changed majors at least once. If the academic environment didn’t suit you, you might not have known that viable alternatives, such as professional trades, were accessible. Fully considering your educational options and choosing the most fulfilling option is one way actions in your 20s could impact your entire life. You often face more challenges if you pursue career training or a degree once you’re older with more responsibilities.
Your 20s also offers an excellent time for retirement savings. You’re figuring out your career path in this decade, but you get a real boost on your long-term financial planning if you start your savings habits early. If you get a good start in your chosen field, you may also opt to experiment with investing.
Your 30s spins you 180 degrees from your 20s as you realize there’s a lot you don’t know. You’re starting to get a handle on how much you have to learn about the world and yourself, but you still run into some problem areas that would benefit from an older perspective.
You may have a family now, so you need to consider your children’s future. Start savings accounts and college funds when they’re born so you don’t sacrifice your retirement to send them to school. If your kids decide against pursuing a degree, they can use that money to buy a house or start a business.
You’re hitting the midway point of your career, so you could find yourself working longer hours, canceling social plans, or skipping out on family time to make a good impression at work. While your career is important, one of the most common regrets later in life is working too much. Take steps to achieve a healthy work-life balance instead of putting yourself in a position where you live to work.
Your children are teenagers and in the process of leaving the nest. You open up more disposable income, so work on paying off your mortgage and eliminating any other debt. Once you handle your financial responsibilities, put some of your disposable income towards self-investment. Travel to your dream vacation spot, take up a hobby you lacked the time for previously and make plenty of time for your friends. You spent much of the past two decades caring for children, so it takes some time to rediscover who you are without the active parenting role. A strong social circle helps you reconnect with your peers and reinforce friendships you may have neglected due to time and scheduling issues.
Use some of your new-found free time to take care of your health. Your body spends the 40s slowing down your metabolism and shifting your hormone balance, particularly through menopause for women. If you pay close attention to your general wellness by lowering stress, eating healthily, and getting enough exercise, you reduce your health risks as you enter retirement age.
You’re getting close to retirement age and enjoying the time you spend with your adult children and their families. If you actively invest your money, consider moving away from high-risk stocks so you minimize any losses to your retirement funds. The family home may be too big for you and your spouse to manage on your own, so it may be time to sell the house and downsize into a house better suited for your current needs.
You also have a prime opportunity to think about your end-of-life plans long before you run into major health problems that may make it problematic to convey your final wishes. The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization found 74 percent of seniors lacked any advanced directive. You can cover important issues like who makes medical decisions and how to approach specific medical situations, such as life support. Preplanning cremation with a service such as the Neptune Society also ensures your family knows how to handle your remains.
It’s never too early to plan for the future, no matter where you’re at in life. Your foresight puts you in a better position for long-term happiness, financial stability, and end-of-life preplanning. You take out a lot of stress in your life when you know exactly what to expect as you move forward.