Financial success at any age

Source: Forbes, January 03, 2013

Instead of willing yourself to give up chocolate, while saving an extra $500 a month and finally learning Chinese, try whittling down the list to what really matters.

We’ve come up with some of the most important things that will keep you on track for a bright fiscal future. In other words, these are tasks that will set you up to have a great 2013 straight through to 2025.

And since our readers are all unique and in different life stages, we took the theme of “years” to a whole new level: Here are the top five things you should do in each decade of your life, from your 20s to your 60s and beyond.

5 Things to Do in Your 20s …

1. Build an Emergency Fund

When you’re young, saving up for a huge financial safety net can feel daunting, but emergencies, like job loss, can also be daunting. We recommend that you save at least six months’ living expenses in a high-yield savings account that’s reserved just for true emergencies. Once you’ve saved that amount, you’re done. So make it happen!

2. Pay Off Your Credit Card Debt

We know how easy it is to get into credit card debt, but make it a goal to be debt-free by the time you hit 30. Not only does credit card debt seriously weigh down your credit score, but it also compounds continuously, so it just builds and builds. Need help? Try LearnVest’s Get Out of Debt Bootcamp.

3. Take the Job You Love

We don’t want to make any assumptions about what your family structure looks like in your 20s, but if there’s ever a time to follow your passion and take the job of your dreams, it’s when you’re young and don’t yet have a ton of financial obligations. Will that make you feel financially insecure? That’s why you need that emergency fund!

4. Open an IRA

Although retirement may feel a long way off, time is your best ally. As a rule of thumb, imagine that you’ll need at least 70% of your pre-retirement income per year (so if you make $75,000 before you retire, you’ll want at least $52,500 per year of retirement). If you retire at 65, and live until 90, well, that’s a lot of years.

Even if you can’t contribute a lot while in your 20s, it’s important to get started. Here’s how to begin saving for retirement.

5. Take the Trip of Your Dreams

Even if you’re struggling a little, don’t lose sight of getting the most out of life. Rather than putting your dream trip on credit cards or begging your parents, save up and plan it out. If you have to wait a while before your dreams become reality, you’ll enjoy it all the more when you do make it happen. (Like this 20-something who took her dream Paris vacation.)

Read about other financial tips and plans to make throughout different ages here