Age Milestones for Your Finances


NEW YORK (MainStreet) — In the good ol' days, life was simple: you would get your driver's license at age 16, move out of your parents' home at age 18 and by age 25 you had a spouse, a house, a dog and 2.5 children.

Fast-forward to today, and the 'new normal' is that there is no 'normal.' People today often find themselves in school until their early or mid-twenties, sometimes living at home or with roommates. This delayed 'adulthood' in reality is a buffering zone in a world in which jobs (or even marriages) for life are a thing of the past.

"I think there are a lot of factors that contribute to delayed adulthood," says Dr. Stephanie Buehler, a psychologist with the Buehler Institute. "I think that being offspring of 'helicopter parents' contributes to delayed childhood. However, this generation was launched into a bad economy with few opportunities to stretch into as adults."

Feel a bit young (or old) for your age?

See how your life stacks up with these new 'age milestones':

25th Birthday

Old Milestone: Settling into a career with your employer; enjoying newlywed status with a new house and young children.

New Milestone: Fresh out of school and often deciding if you want to further your education; usually single for maximum mobility; still may be working a second or third job to pay the bills

"I'm of the view that people need to be fully engaged in adult life in their mid-twenties," says Dr. Brad Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, as well as associate professor of sociology at the university. "People flourish in their careers and their lives in general if they get serious during this time of their life. If they are still jumping from one job to another, they are not getting those networking experiences that will serve them in their career."

Milestone Meaning: Don't let others' tales of how established they were at 25 intimidate you, quality decision-making often takes time, especially when variables like where you live and where you work are not set in stone.

30th Birthday

Old Milestone: Your young and energetic years are past; your children are growing up quickly, and you may find yourself out of shape; it also may be the time to buy a larger house for your growing family.

New Milestone: You finally know what you want to do with your career, and the hobby or side job of your 20s may actually turn into a desperately needed additional revenue stream; dating-wise, you might finally be ready to look for Mr. or Mrs. Right.

"Unfortunately the younger generation not getting married until later will not decrease this country's divorce rate," says Buehler. "With divorce rates still over 50% in first marriages, younger people are more likely to divorce. But it does give people an opportunity to explore their options and date more people."

Milestone Meaning: In many ways, 30 is the new 20, so if you feel like you are just hitting your stride after the three-decade mark, you are not alone...

35th Birthday

Old Milestone: Celebrating ten years with your employer and happy with entering middle management as you have paid your 'dues'; starting to think about your children going to college.

New Milestone: After establishing your career, it may be time to head out on your own and be your own boss, especially if you are single; if you have a family, you may be considering telecommuting and 'flex' jobs so you can spend more time with your growing family and their schedules; this is often a milestone birthday to begin international travel and philanthropic efforts.

"Hopefully this trend will allow young adults to get their ducks in a row educationally, professionally and personally before they start a family," says Wilcox. "This is more applicable to college graduates than non-college graduates. We are seeing educated individuals taking a lot more time to start a family, than those with no formal education."

Milestone Meaning: With both the old and new milestones, the 35th birthday is a perfect opportunity to take an unbiased look at your life, and make the necessary changes for your...

Old Milestone: Over the hill. Black balloons. The beginning of the end. Gray hair.

New Milestone: This birthday is often the one people feel it is 'all together' with a strong career, definite love interest or active love life; this birthday often leads to renewed physical and outdoor activities such as hiking, exercise or formal dance courses. Often you are just now hitting your peak earnings potential, which is perfect for your growing family, or the prospect of starting one...

Milestone Meaning: If 30 is the new 20, 40 is definitely the new 30, so be ready to utilize all of your personal and professional resources to enjoy the second half of your life.

"This viewpoint really benefits society because it allows people to keep growing and developing," says Buehler. "Society as a whole, as well as the individual person benefits when people reinvent themselves and try new things."

No matter if you are 28, 38 or 80, every day gives way for new opportunities, so don't be boxed in by your number.

About the Author:

Rodric J. Hurdle-Bradford, APR is a freelance writer based out of Scottsdale, Ariz. He covers casino gaming, personal finance and real estate topics for several publications. He can be reached at

Show Comments

Back to Top