This article was written by Caroline Wright for Manilla.com.
Whether you're 10 and saving for a new bike, or 60 and knocking on the door of retirement, it's never too late (or too early) to get your ducks in a row. Read on for advice on how to plan for the future -- no matter how old you are.
Baby: Ten fingers? Ten toes? You're set. Sit tight, be cute, and let your crazy aunts coo over you. There's nothing to worry about here -- especially if your parents have already started a savings fund for you.
10: Want to buy something that your parents won't approve of? Sure you do. Ask for allowance, do chores and then blow your money on a new game or toy.
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15: Your parents still take care of you, but maybe they're not paying for everything anymore. Time to stash away some money into your savings account and talk to your parents about creating a budget. You should probably get a summer job, too.
18: You're independent now (sort of). While Mom and Dad might be helping you out with necessary expenses, like rent or college tuition, you still need to have money for books, pizza and weekend fun. Now's the time to start creating good habits, like minimal credit card spending and paying your bills on time.
22: Get a (real) job, rent an apartment, and prepare to start paying back your student loans. You might think that there's not enough money leftover to contribute to your 401(k), but you're wrong. Start saving now so you don't hate yourself later.
25: Begin establishing good credit by opening up a couple of low-interest credit cards and paying them back on time. You're in a good spot to save right now: You've got a steady income, no kids and no mortgage. You don't know this yet, but you'll never be as free as you are right now. Keep up the good work, and don't get shackled by debt.
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30s: Time to up the ante. If you're not already, begin contributing to your 401(k). Make sure you're contributing the maximum amount that your employer will match (because it's free money). You should also look into buying a house, but only if you're willing to stay in it for at least three to five years because that's how long it will take to redeem your buying and selling costs. And, start diversifying your portfolio. A simple rule is to take your age and subtract it by 110. The resulting number is roughly the percentage you should invest in stocks and the rest should be in bonds or cash.
40s: College! Only this time, it's not for you. Prepare for your kids' tuition costs now, but make sure you're not halting your retirement planning or taking out costly loans, like a home equity line of credit. A good option is to enroll in your state's 529 Savings Plan, which provides key tax benefits and reduces the burden of saving for college on your own. Visit saveforcollege.com to learn more.
50s: Over the hill? Not you! You've got tons of mileage left, so start looking into long-term care options. They're the least expensive at this age and you'll be most likely to qualify because you won't have a pre-existing health condition. Because you'll be living longer, make sure you're taking advantage of catch-up contributions to your 401(k) and IRA. You can now contribute up to $5,500.
60: Did you hear? Sixty is the new 50 and you're looking good. Now is the time to take things down a notch. Dial back your investment risks so that the majority of your wealth is in a combination of bonds and cash. Also, stick it to the man and start looking for independent work that allows you more freedom and can act as an income source into retirement.
62: Hey, old guy, you did it! Welcome to retirement -- age, that is. Just because you've hit 62 doesn't mean you have to start collecting Social Security. If you can, hold off for a while. Waiting until you're 70 to start collecting will give you almost double the monthly benefit. The exception? If you're in poor health or in desperate need of income.
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70: Make sure your retirement fund lasts by downsizing your home or moving to a cheaper area. You'll be able to maintain your lifestyle for longer and possibly live in your dream location.
75: You might be old, but there's still some planning to do. It's time to consider your legacy. Establish a lifetime income by drastically reducing your stock ownership and transferring the funds into a combination of income producing assets, like bonds (domestic, foreign and corporate), Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) and annuities.
All ages: Whether you're 18 and need money for bail, or 80 and your home is struck by a natural disaster, it's essential to have an emergency savings fund so that your head is always above water.
Caroline is digital marketing manager of video and mobile at Manilla, the leading, free and secure service that lets you manage your bills and accounts in one place. Caroline is also a regular contributor to Yahoo! Finance, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, Redbook and other major sites.More from Manilla.com:
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