Is there a more interesting period in life than between your 20s and 30s? Between becoming an adult by moving away from home, starting your career, and experiencing life-changing events, this time period is full of memorable moments.
But there are certain things, such as the following 30 suggestions, that you should accomplish before you turn 30--since you have the youth, freedom, time, and time to recover from most errors in judgment.
By the way, you can definitely do these things if you're over 30 as well. It may just be easier when you're in your 20s.
1. Start saving for your retirement.
I know. Thinking about your retirement isn't the most exciting topic. But the sooner you plan for your retirement, the better off you'll be down the road. Here's an example from CNN Money:
Say you start at age 25, and put aside $3,000 a year in a tax-deferred retirement account for 10 years--and then you stop saving completely. By the time you reach 65, your $30,000 investment will have grown to more than $338,000 (assuming a 7 percent annual return), even though you didn't contribute a dime beyond age 35.
Now let's say you put off saving until you turn 35, and then save $3,000 a year for 30 years. By the time you reach 65, you will have set aside $90,000 of your own money, but it will grow to only about $303,000, assuming the same 7 percent annual return.
2. Find out your credit score.
This is another topic that isn't the sexiest option to think about. But if you want to be able to purchase a home or borrow money to start a business, then you have to have solid credit. Discover what your credit score is as early as you can. If it's not great, then you need to start taking the steps to repair it.
3. Prepare a rainy day fund.
The older you get, the more responsibilities you're going to have. This means that a lot more things can go wrong, like your vehicle breaking down or having to do emergency home repairs.
However, with more responsibilities, you're less likely to be able to start putting money aside. Start saving in your 20s for a rainy day.
How much? I personally like to have 12 months' worth, but that's not always possible. I suggest to plan on enough money to get yourself (and whoever you are responsible for) by for three to six months.
4. Pay down your debts.
Debt like credit cards and student loans can bog you down as you get older. In fact, those monthly payments can add up so much that it can prevent you from purchasing a new car or being able to pay a monthly mortgage.
Pay down these debts as soon as you can before you have more responsibilities. Go without something else--get rid of your debt, as this will help you to be able to start things later in life.
5. Attend college...in person.
While you should definitely be concerned about student loans, you can't beat the experiences and opportunities that college can provide. Besides learning skills that can help you find a job, attending college forces you to get out of your comfort zone, learn how to become more self-sufficient, and develop your networking skills.
6. Get yourself fired.
I'm in no way advocating that you goof off or act unprofessional, nor to tell your boss off. You may get fired simply because you aren't talented enough for that specific position. And that can be a wakeup call that you either need to develop your skills or change career paths sooner rather than later.
I'm more encouraging you to take risks. These can either pay off or get you fired. If you never take big risks, you'll never know.
7. Travel abroad...on the cheap.
Traveling abroad gives you the chance to experience new cultures and meet interesting people along the way. In short, traveling is absolutely priceless. Better yet, traveling when you don't have a lot of money teaches you how to budget and get thrifty.
8. Move to a new city.
Like attending college or traveling overseas, moving to a completely unfamiliar city forces you to get out of your comfort zone, which opens the door to countless experiences that you would never have had if you stayed in your hometown.
9. Build something from scratch.
There's nothing as fulfilling as building something from scratch, as opposed to just purchasing it. I've made everything from hat racks to standing desks, and it's forced me to think in a completely different direction, and pick up a huge sense of pride along the way. Plus, it can save you a ton of money.
10. Find your superpower.
We're all talented at something. Find that talent and harness that skill so that you can become successful. Here's a nifty test you can use to discover your hidden talents.
Over the past five years, I've worked with Open to Hope. Finding a cause that's close to your heart doesn't just make you feel good--emotionally, mentally, and physically--volunteering can help you develop your goal-setting skills. For example, you could plan a 5K run for your charity.
Volunteering also connects you with prominent individuals in your community. Who knows? That board member could be your next employer or investor.
12. Learn how to delegate.
Despite what you may believe, you're not Superman or Wonder Woman. Instead of wasting your time on tasks that you either aren't skilled at or don't have the desire to do, learn how to delegate so that others can help carry the workload. For example, if your spouse is an excellent cook, then you should be responsible for cleaning the dishes. If you can't stand bookkeeping, then outsource that task to a freelancer.
13. Conquer a fear.
Fear holds you back. Instead of letting fear dictate your life, face that fear and conquer it. For example, if you're afraid of heights, then go bungee jumping or skydiving. It definitely will be terrifying, but it will be worth that short time of terror when you overcome that fear.
14. Learn to play a musical instrument.
Playing an instrument isn't just a cool talent, it actually taps into underused regions of your brain, as well as makes you happy. Best of all? Your instrument choice could be something as simple as a tambourine or harmonica.
15. Learn a new language.
As you get older, learning a new language becomes more challenging. Why does that matter? Because learning a second language exposes you to new cultures, makes you more open-minded, and gives your brain a boost by enhancing your memory and attention span. Even if you don't become fluent, as least familiarizing yourself with a new language can still give you these benefits. Yes, I speak a second language fluently and am learning a third.
16. Have a strategy for dealing with stress.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but with more responsibilities comes more stress. Chronically living with stress has serious physical, mental, and emotional consequences.
Find ways to start handling stress now, such as meditation or exercise, if you want to enjoy a long and healthy life.
17. Learn how to cook for yourself.
Not only is cooking for yourself--and your friends and family, when you host a party--rewarding, it also ensures that you're eating healthy meals for the rest of your life. And it's enjoyable. I actually use cooking as a stress reliever.
18. Discover your family's history.
Learning about your family's history gives you the chance to connect with elder family members, as well as to learn about a new culture. You may even decide to visit the country where your relatives originated.
19. Manage time effectively.
When you're in charge of leading a task at work as well as making sure that the kids are off to school on time, proper time management becomes a necessity. Before you have those responsibilities, work on your time management so that you aren't scrambling all over the place.
20. Start a business on the side.
There is no shortage of side business opportunities--whether it's becoming an Uber driver on the weekends or launching an e-commerce store. Having a side business gives you another source of income that can help you pay off your debts or increase your retirement savings. And that side business may even become your new career if it takes off. This is how I started the digital wallet company that became my full-time job.
21. Class yourself up.
You're no longer attending frat parties. Instead, you'll be going to networking events or dinner parties where wine and more expensive liquors will be served. You don't have to become an expert, but you should become a little familiar with these "classier" items so that you aren't intimidated when they're around--by learning basic wine and food pairings, for example.
Also, make sure that you know how to properly dress for certain occasions. Have at least one nice outfit that will make a great first impression when you have a job interview or when attending a formal event.
22. Get comfortable receiving and giving feedback.
Instead of taking criticism or feedback to heart, use that information to help you grow personally or professionally. At the same time, you should also learn how to give feedback to others without being too harsh. Instead of making people cringe when you begin talking, speak to others with respect and in professional language. This, in turn, will make it possible for others to ask you when they need clarification, advice, or recommendations.
23. Attend a major sporting or music event.
Whether it's attending the World Series or a major music festival like Lollapalooza, enjoy these events while you have the extra money, and energy, to do so.
24. Invest in yourself.
Whether it's learning or enhancing skills, reading daily, exercising, or eating a well-balanced diet, start investing in yourself so that you can become a stronger and more well-rounded individual, both personally and professionally.
This also includes going to events and taking classes that will teach you new skills. Always be investing in yourself.
25. Learn how to say "no."
You only have so much time in a day. If you constantly keep saying "yes" whenever a friend, family member, or colleague asks you a favor, you'll never have time for yourself and you'll deplete your reserves. Having no boundaries is one of the most effective ways to become stressed out.
26. Start building your network.
Networking is essential if you want to become successful and be healthy, both mentally and physically. Start working on your networking skills now, and don't be afraid to make some mistakes along the way. Learning from your mistakes is one of the most effective ways to learn. As your network continues to grow, you'll realize that you'll have a number of connections that can help you advance your career.
27. Pull several all-nighters.
When you think of all-nighters, you may immediately think of parties where you drink in excess. While this may happen, you can also stay up all night stargazing, watching movies, dancing, or playing card games. The point is, enjoy staying up all night while you can--it's going to get much harder as you get older and have children. All-nighters provide some unique, "never-again" experiences.
28. Develop your personal brand.
We all have a personal brand these days. That means that when people search for your name, you are the top result. That means having active social-media accounts, a LinkedIn profile, and a blog where you can share your voice with the world. Whether it's sharing your expertise or passion project, your brand can help you make more meaningful connections, and even help you land your dream job.
29. Have a Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
Not too often, but you really should have a day when you blow everything off and do whatever you want. Not only does that recharge your batteries, it gives you the chance to do things that you always wanted to do.
30. Start chasing your dreams.
Whether it's visiting Australia or starting your own consulting firm, start putting the wheels in motion so that you can fulfill your dream before it's too late. For example, start putting money away for that trip to Australia or start perfecting your elevator pitch for potential investors.