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Where Should I Be Financially at 35? (Life Goals by Age 35)

Are you creeping up on your mid-thirties? Are you wondering how well you’re really doing financially? You’re definitely not alone. Since money is basically everyone’s dirty little secret (regardless of whether it’s good or bad), it’s sometimes hard to know how you measure up and if you’re doing enough for your future self. Today, we’re tearing down the wall of secrets and leading you straight down the path of success! It’s time to go through the top 10 financial milestones to hit by age 35.

Note: Want to get out of debt? Want help lining up your loans and calculating how quickly they could pay off? Check out our top-selling Debt Snowball Excel Calculator for just $9.99 on Etsy!

In this post, you’ll get to see where everyone else is and where you should be financially as well!

Related: How to Retire with $3 million by Age 52

10 Financial Milestones to Hit By Age 35

Do you currently own a house that has more space than you really know what to do with (you know…other than load it up with totes full of junk…)? Is your current car so awesome that it would drop the jaw of your teenage self? And, if someone looked at what you wear each day, would they automatically assume that you’re a millionaire?

If you answered “yes” to all the above questions, chances are that you’re way behind financially… Sure, you look like a millionaire, but are you really ahead of the game when you look at the numbers? Probably not. You’ll have your work cut out for you with these “top 10 financial milestones to hit by age 35”.

So where should you be financially at age 35? What should all your important numbers look like?

milestones to hit by age 35 1) No More Consumer Debt

According to the 2017 Federal Reserve Bulletin, the average 35 year old has $76,000 of consumer debt:

  • $18,600 in student loans,
  • $12,700 in car loans,
  • $5,800 in credit cards,
  • $23,400 in lines of credit, and
  • $15,500 in other debts (likely medical debt)

At a rate of 8% and an average term of 10 years, the average 35-year-old pays $922 a month on consumer debt. Ugh. No wonder most 35-year-olds are stressed out and discontent!

Financial Milestone to Hit by Age 35: $0 in Consumer Debt!

Most people graduate from college at age 22 or 23. This means you’ve had 12 years to get out of student loan debt and car debt (and avoid all the other debt options that may have come your way during those post-graduate years).

If you’re consumer debt-free, congrats! You’re 1 for 1, and you’re well on your way to becoming a financial success later in life!

If you’re NOT consumer debt free… then check out this recent post of mine: How the Debt Snowball Really Works! It’ll teach you how to get out of debt fast, and you’ll even get a free debt-free snowball calculator tool to help you get rid of those ugly payments once and for all!

2) Emergency Fund of 3-6 Months of Expenses

Emergencies happen…to everyone. You’re nothing special.

  • Your car will malfunction,
  • Your kid will break his arm,
  • And, you might just get canned at work tomorrow!

You don’t know! Nobody does. And that’s why you need money stashed away for all that crazy stuff – it’s inevitable.

Unfortunately, most people don’t have an emergency fund. In fact, 57% of Americans don’t even have $1,000 in the bank! Do you know what happens to these people? They have a $5,000 emergency, and they put it on their credit card. The next emergency…credit card. Again? Credit card… They just keep living life blindfolded, and the debt continues to pile up.

Commit to an Emergency Fund

You, on the other hand, you’re going to be different. You (hopefully) realize the importance of socking money away – like $10,000-$20,000 worth. There’s no need to invest it, and you shouldn’t ever dip into it for random purchases…it’s your emergency fund, and it’ll be there for you the next time your boss walks you to the door.

3) Household Income of $60,000 or Greater

Based on a recent report from Seeking Alpha, the median household income is $62,175. Of the financial milestones to hit by age 35, I consider this one to be pretty important. If the average household is earning $62,175, you (an aspiring individual in your mid-30’s that reads financial blogs in your spare time) should be earning at least $60,000 at this point in your life.

If you’re not making $60,000 yet, you really need to figure out why not…and fast. Otherwise, you might soon be getting behind…

Are you:

  • Underpaid for your position?
  • Lacking a college degree?
  • In a job that won’t ever pay more than $60,000 a year?
  • In a job that you hate, and therefore not performing well?

If you ARE earning more than $60,000 a year, good for you! Add it to your tally. (Do you think you’ll make this a perfect 10 for 10?? I hope so!!)

save half your income4) A Career Track

By the age of 35, you should absolutely have a career track. If you’re a waiter, a truck driver, or a custodian…you don’t have a career. I’m not hating on you, but if you want to be a success in life, you’re going to need some upward mobility in your work. If it’s improbable that you’ll get promoted again in your life, you’re in a dead-end job with no career track. You’re officially behind the 8-ball.

Related: The 7 Most Dead-End Jobs You Should Think Twice About

On the other hand, if you’re an engineer, a nurse, an analyst, or a marketing manager, you’re in demand and your momentum on the career ladder couldn’t be sweeter right now. Also, if you’re a business owner and your profits are rising every year, you’ve got upward mobility as well. The sky is your limit. Time to make some money!!

Related: The 50 Best Jobs in America and How Much They Pay

5) You Have Life Insurance

One of the major financial milestones to hit by age 35 is getting life insurance. Sounds trivial and simple, but 40% of Americans have absolutely no life insurance! And roughly two-thirds of Americans are under-insured carrying far less than the advised $500,000 policy.

It’s simple, it’s easy, and if you care at all about your family, you’d carry life insurance on yourself (I recommend term life insurance from Bestow). Sure, you’ll probably be healthy for a long time, but what if you’re not?

What if you…

  • get cancer?
  • get into a car accident?
  • have a random heart attack or stroke that takes your life?

It happens every day to people that never expect it. Don’t think it can’t happen to you. Look into getting term life insurance today if you haven’t already.

If you already have term life insurance, good for you! You’re a rock star!

Related: 8 Reasons Whole Life Sucks (and What You Should Buy Instead)

6) You Should Have a $200,000 Net Worth

This one is going to be a tough pill for many to swallow. At 35 years old, you should have a net worth of $200,000, half of which should be in your retirement nest egg.

No, I’m not crazy. I’m just doing math.

Related: What Should Your Net Worth Be At Your Age?

Current retirees can live comfortably on a nest egg of $750,000 today. But, in 30-40 years (when you’re going to want to retire), everything is going to be 2-4 times as expensive, thanks to an average 3% inflation rate each year. This, of course, means that instead of $750,000, you’re going to need $1.5M-$3.0M!

For me, I’m conservative. So we’re shooting for $3M.

With a net worth of $200k now, and $700 a month going toward your investments (roughly 15% of your income), you should be worth $3M by the time you’re 65 years old.

financial milestones to hit by age 35

Not quite 35 yet and want to know if you’re on track? Here’s the quick formula that I created:

Net Worth = (Age-25)*(Current Income)/3

If you’re behind, it’s not too late! Reduce your expenses, do what you can to increase your income, and start loading up on your investments! You can do this!!

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7) Have a Mortgage Payment That’s <25% of Your Take-Home Pay

If you bring home $4,000 a month and your house payment is $2,000 (ie. 50% of your income…), you’re going to struggle financially…for a long time.

  • You won’t be saving anything for retirement,
  • You’ll have a hard time helping your kids with their education costs, and
  • When you have a big emergency…you’ll probably be reaching for your credit card…

A big house payment keeps millions of people from getting ahead financially these days – both for their generation and the next…

If you’re looking for financial milestones to hit by age 35, this is the one you should take note of and pay attention to. Because if you do it right, it will help you feed all the others.

I love the Dave Ramsey plan on this one:

  • Buy a house with at least a 10% down payment,
  • Take out a 15-year fixed mortgage, and
  • Make sure the payment is no more than 25% of your take-home pay.

Thankfully, we drank the Kool-Aid when it came to buying our first house. We purchased our place in 2012, and it cost $75,000 (thank you, housing depression!). The low cost (and payment) allowed us to invest AND pay off our house in just 4 years. Today, we’re completely debt free, and our future is looking bright.

Want a rule of thumb for how much house you can afford? Take your yearly salary and multiply by two. So, if you make an average of $60,000 a year, you should borrow no more than $120,000 for your house. Want a better house? Then make some more money. 😉

Related: How Much House Can I Afford?

8) Started Funding the Kids’ College Accounts

Guess what college costs today? According to College Data, the cost for an in-state public school….is $25,000 a year. For a private school….$50,000.


Sooo if this is what college costs today, what are the damages going to be 18 years from now when your kids are ready to leave the nest and figure out their future? At an average inflation rate of 5%…

  • $25,000 a year turns into $60,000 a year, and
  • $50,000 becomes $120,000.

Double whoa.

If you own a house that’s too expensive and you’re trying to invest for your own retirement as well, you’re going to have zero chance of saving money for your kids’ education.

So, now here’s the next million-dollar question – How much should you save? Lucky for you, I wrote a post about that too.

Check it out: Free College Investment Calculator: It Costs More Than You Think…

financial milestones to hit by age 35

9) Have a Will

You and your wife get into a car accident. You both die tragically. Who gets the kids?

If you have a will, there will be no questions. Your relatives and your lawyer will simply read it, and your kids will be sent to the adults you chose – and they’ll likely flourish because of it. BUT, if you have no will, your money will go where the state decides it should, and your kids will get sent who knows where…

You’re 35 years old. It’s time to be an adult…Pay a couple hundred bucks and get a will set up with your local lawyer. You won’t regret it.

simple ways to manage your money10) You’re Giving Regularly

Of the 10 financial milestones to hit by age 35, I really hope you can check the box on this one. If you can’t, then much of the above is all for nothing.

Why do I think giving is so important?

When you were young and single, you were selfish. Don’t try to deny it…we all were at some point in our lives. That’s just part of growing up…you need to grow up from somewhere… ie. your selfish self.

  • If you never marry,
  • Never have kids, or
  • Rarely give…

…you’ll likely be one of the most selfish people on the face of this earth.

If you do 2 of the 3 (marry and have kids), you won’t be selfish in your immediate relationships, but you’ll still be selfish in terms of you vs. the world. However, if you also give regularly – both with your money and with your time – you’ll become an exceptionally better person because of it.

Don’t believe me? Then take it from UC Berkeley

According to them, giving has five major benefits:

  • Makes us feel happy
  • It’s good for our health
  • Promotes cooperation
  • Evokes gratitude
  • It’s contagious!

If you want to be a financially wise 35-year-old, then start giving today.

Where Should I Be Financially at 35?

Your life goals should be to put 15% of your income toward retirement accounts, have a net worth of $200,000, no consumer debts, have an emergency fund, a salary of $60,000, and own a modest home. Beyond this, a 35-year-old should have a promising career track, a will, and should give regularly.

And, if there are children, have life insurance and a college fund started.

So how did you do? Are you killing it as a 35-year-old? Or, are you woefully behind?

Whatever the case may be, just make sure to do better tomorrow than you’ve done today.

  • If you’ve got 3 accomplished out of 10, commit to ramping that number up to 7 by the end of the year.
  • Say you’re a 6 out of 10, set a goal to hit 9 of 10 in the next few months
  • Already a 10 of 10? Set your goals even higher – or commit to giving a larger percentage of your income away each year.

You can do this. It might be natural, but nothing here is difficult to grasp. Commit, charge with tenacity, and succeed by taking just one step at a time!

Where are you with the financial milestones to hit by age 35??

Battle of the Mind Grow Rich Money


My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.


  1. Health insurance is not a new concept but the sad part is most of us still don’t understand the importance of investing in a health care policy.

    • Yup, many don’t realize it until it’s too late. Sad, but true.

  2. When considering a mortgage that is less than 25% of monthly income, are you also figuring taxes, home insurance and saving for home repairs? Or just mortgage?

    • Hi Seth,

      When I say 25%, I mean mortgage and property tax. The insurance and repairs shouldn’t really cost that much to swing the needle. Oh, and be sure it’s 25% of a 15 year mortgage. It won’t feel like much house, but you won’t regret it when you’re mortgage free!!

  3. I was all for the list (except whole life insurance) before I read number 10. I completely agree that we should all give to those less fortunate but its nobody’s place to tell someone they are “the most selfish people on Earth” because they don’t desire marriage or kids. To guilt trip those who have decided it’s not for them is wrong and benefits no one except you’re entitled opinion.

    • Did you actually read the list? I’m honestly quite confused.

      First, I recommend term life insurance, not whole life insurance (point #5).

      And second…wait…yeah, I’m reading that now. 😉 That was a little harsh. I think that didn’t really come out right. The major point wasn’t to have kids, it was that everyone should be giving. Sorry if you took that the wrong way! And thanks for calling me out. 🙂

      Hope you have a great day, Mr. Single!

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