Money & You

Financial milestones to aim for in your 20s, 30s, and beyond

May 6, 2023

Oh, to be young and financially savvy! If you're looking to navigate the unpredictable seas of personal finance, it's essential to have a solid financial plan in place. Whether you're in your 20s, 30s, 40s or beyond, here are some common milestones that people aim for to ensure a more secure future.

A word to the wise...

Before we kick off, let's make one thing clear. Your goals and your definition of wealth are unique. Everybody will have their ideas of what they want their mahi and their money to do for them. While we've laid out some common ones below, the real lesson here is that the specifics of your goals matter less than the decision to make goals in the first place. Goal-setting is key part of financial success! You have to know where you're going to get to where you want to go - so take the time to think about what you want from life. The milestones below may provide some inspiration, but remember: it's your life. Don't let us tell you how to live it!

Gearing Up in The 20s

Ah, the roaring 20s! No, not the flapper dresses and jazz music era, but the decade when people truly start to learn the value of money. Here are some common things that people look to achieve during their early adult years.

  • Emergency Fund: Building an emergency fund to cover at least three to six months of living expenses is often crucial for individuals. Life can be unpredictable, and being prepared is always a smart move.
  • Kick the Debt: For those who have accumulated student loans, credit card debt, or personal loans, it's often important to start paying off these debts ASAP. The sooner they are paid off, the sooner one can start saving for other financial goals.
  • Retirement Savings: Starting to save for retirement early is common advice. Making the most of KiwiSaver by contributing enough to get the maximum government contributions and considering increasing contributions as income grows can be beneficial.
  • Insurance: Having adequate insurance coverage, such as health, car, and renters insurance, may be vital. It helps protect individuals from the financial consequences of unexpected events.

Thriving in The 30s

As someone moves into their 30s, people’s financial responsibilities may increase, but so does their earning potential. Here are some financial milestones to keep in mind during this decade:

  • Bolster the Emergency Fund: Many individuals choose to review their emergency fund to ensure it still covers at least three to six months of living expenses, especially if their lifestyle or family situation has changed (getting married, having kids, etc).
  • Prioritise Homeownership: If buying a home is a priority, it's important to start saving for a deposit. Aiming for at least a 20% deposit can help avoid the added cost of Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI). That said, a lot of people are choosing not to buy a home these days, so securing a long-term, consistent tenancy could be a great alternative.
  • Education Fund: Saving for a child's education is a priority for many parents. Exploring options like term deposits, managed funds, or even an education savings plan can help fund their future.

Finding A Footing in The 40s

In your 40s, someone is likely in the prime of your career, and their financial responsibilities may be shifting. Here are some financial milestones people tend to keep in mind during this decade:

  • Maximise Retirement Savings: Approaching retirement is often a time to maximise contributions to retirement savings. Increasing KiwiSaver contributions and exploring other investment options can help boost one's nest egg.
  • Review Your Investment Strategy: Assessing an investment portfolio to ensure it aligns with risk tolerance and financial goals is a common decision. This may involve rebalancing asset allocation or exploring new investment opportunities.
  • University Savings for Your Kids: If parents haven't already started saving for their children's education, now is the time to get serious about it. Various savings options, such as term deposits, managed funds, or an education savings plan, can help fund their future.

Flourishing in The 50s

As someone enters their 50s, retirement starts to become a more tangible reality. Here are some financial milestones that people consider during this decade:

  • Pay Off the Mortgage (if you have one): Paying off a mortgage before retirement can significantly reduce financial stress and provide more flexibility in one's golden years. For renters, negotiating for a longer fixed-term lease can be a good option as well; some landlords are happy to pay below-market rates for good, proven tenants who will stay for the long term.
  • Catch-Up Contributions: Making catch-up contributions to a KiwiSaver or other retirement accounts can be beneficial if retirement savings aren't where they should be.
  • Prepare for Retirement: Planning for retirement, including living arrangements, hobbies, interests, and travel plans, is essential. A detailed plan can make budgeting easier and ensure sufficient savings to support the desired lifestyle.

Embracing The 60s and Beyond

As someone reaches their 60s and beyond, their focus is often on ensuring a comfortable and secure retirement. Here are some typical financial milestones::

  • Retirement Income Strategy: Developing a strategy for drawing down retirement savings to provide a steady income stream is often important. This may involve setting up an annuity, withdrawing a regular amount from investments, or a combination of both.
  • Downsizing: Downsizing a home, if it makes financial sense and aligns with a retirement lifestyle, can free up cash to invest or help cover living expenses.
  • Estate Planning and Legacy: Reviewing an estate plan, including a will, and discussing wishes with family is a common milestone here. Setting up trusts, power of attorney, or other arrangements can help protect one's legacy and ensure loved ones are taken care of.


No matter your age or stage in life, it's essential to set financial milestones to help guide your journey to financial security. With a solid plan in place, you can confidently sail towards your future knowing that you're prepared for whatever storms may come your way.

Remember that everyone's financial journey is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. It's important to regularly review and adjust your financial plan as your circumstances change to ensure you stay on track to achieving your financial goals.

As you strive to hit these financial milestones, it's always a good idea to seek guidance from a trusted financial professional who can help you navigate the complex world of personal finance. Remember, money is mahi, no matter how old you are and what stage of life you’re in. But put in that hard work, and you’ll come out the other side smiling.

This was originally posted as an education article on the Money Sweetspot customer portal. If you read this as one of our customers, you would've earned some money off your loan! Do the mahi, get the treats. Find out more.

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