The Personal Finance Lifecycle

You can definitely break down personal finance concerns by age. Things that are important when you’re 22 become trivial at 55. Your key concern at 65 isn’t the same one you had at 45.

As another birthday passed, I started thinking about how those things break down. Obviously, not everyone will have all of these things happen during the time-frame I show (or at all, for that matter).

20 to 30

  • Graduate from college and start repaying loans
  • Get first ‘real’ job
  • Buy first car and insurance
  • Rent an apartment
  • Get first credit cards and learn how to deal with them (or not)
  • Marry? Have a baby? Buy a house? Maybe you even manage to save something

31 to 45

  • Have kids and watch them grow up too fast
  • Get a will
  • Learn about and buy life insurance
  • Buy a house
  • Start saving for college
  • Try to fund an IRA and 401(k) in between orthodontist bills and piano lessons

46 to 55

  • Holy crap! College tuition is just around the corner (or here already)
  • The thought of retirement gains in importance and you try to ramp up saving


  • The kids are out of the house
  • The mortgage is paid off
  • These are prime earning years, and you’re able to save serious money for retirement
  • Look into long term care insurance


  • Come up with a retirement fund withdrawal strategy
  • Settle in to retirement
  • Begin to think about estate planning