Prioritizing Saving as an Adult

Dear Dave,

I'm 20 years old, and I'm working my way through college. I've never been in debt, and I've already got a good emergency fund in place. But it seems like there are so many things to plan for down the road. How do you prioritize and manage saving for a better car, investing, marriage, kids and everything else in life? It all seems so overwhelming.

Eric

Dear Eric,

You've done a great job so far! I'm glad you're looking toward the future, too. You're right, it can be overwhelming if you look at all these things as if they have to be accomplished today. But here's the good news: You don't have to do everything right now. It's great to have a plan, but you're just 20 years old. You've got plenty of time to decide what's important to you and plan accordingly.

All the things you mentioned are great goals. But, in my mind, finishing college is your number one priority right now. Then, let's look at the other stuff. If you have a girl you're crazy about, marriage may be next on the list. If your car is about to roll over and die, the next step may be a better vehicle.

Don't be too intimidated, Eric. Things are often easier to deal with when you break them down into smaller components and address them individually. Nobody can do four or five things at once, and do them all to the best of their ability. Just decide what matters most, put it at the top, and list everything else in descending order of importance. Then just go down the list, and knock them out one after the other.

That's how you eat an elephant, Eric. One bite at a time!

- Dave

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