I’m not quite 30 yet, but I’m more than familiar with the notion that this age is the new benchmark for people to get their lives together.
There are books, blogs and Twitter accounts dedicated solely to helping people cross that line in the best shape for their future. They do this by telling you to get rid of debt, stop shopping so much, start a 401(k) and brace yourself for wrinkles.
But in my opinion, it takes a lot more than a healthy bank account and nice skin to live a full and happy life, whether you’re 29 or 59. Most of us know how to succeed, we just happen to let ourselves — and a few convenient lies — get in the way.
1. So long as my job pays well, it’s OK if I hate it.
The job market may not be what it used to be, but by age 30 no one should be toiling away at a job that leaves them stressed out and dissatisfied with life.
We were inspired by a young woman who wrote about turning her back on a lucrative job on Wall Street when years of 14-hour work days made her overweight, burned out and miserable.
“I’m a few months into my new job [as an asset manager for a nonprofit] and it’s made my life richer. I’m making an effort to breathe, smile, eat healthier and have positive thoughts about my future,” she wrote.
“I took a pay cut of about 30% to change positions, but I don’t think that I should be applauded for making the choice to accept less pay – I don’t view it as a sacrifice.”
2. If I turn a blind eye, somehow my finances will figure themselves out.
The worst thing I did in my early 20s was ignore financial red flags when I saw them.
I didn’t check my bank account for fear of how low the number would be; I left my credit report untouched for five years; and I didn’t realize my first job even offered a matching 401(k) until I quit because I stuffed that folder in my desk and never looked at it.
Look: If you’re broke, you might as well know it and own it. It’s the only way you’ll ever truly be able to do something about it.
3. I should get married because it’s the “next step”
I’m a few years shy of 30 myself, and it baffles me how many couples — men and women alike — tell me they’re planning on tying the knot by 30.
There are few people my age who can actually afford the $27,000 the average American wedding costs these days.
Why kick off your lifetime union with a massive pile of debt that will only cause stress and inevitable arguments down the line? If you’re truly in love, chances are The One will still be around by the time you’re both financially fit to face those bills together.
4. Banks and bill collectors will get their way no matter what I do.
At some time (and for a lot of you, many times), life eventually will get in the way and you’ll find yourself on the wrong side of your bank or, worse, a bill collector.
Stand your ground. I’ve been negotiating my way to lower credit rates, health care, cable bills, and bank fees since I took out my first line of credit at age 18. I do it mostly by phone and by monitoring my accounts dutifully, and I rarely take no for an answer.
If you’re ever in doubt, think about Kenny Golde, a 40-something Hollywood producer who managed to negotiate $220,000 worth of debt down to $70,000…
Read More: Mandi Woodruff, dailyfinance.com