Looking to the future around New Year’s Day is an annual exercise, but this year – with the start of a new decade at hand – it’s truly a test of your 2020 vision.

The calendar’s turn into the 20s makes it worthwhile to go beyond standard goal-setting and planning to make new-decade resolutions, looking out 10 times longer and farther than standard year-end pledges and examining real financial implications.

Envision what your finances will be like in a decade, setting benchmarks and goals that will help you frame your financial future.

Before you start, let’s do away with the idea that entering 2020 will give you any sort of perfect vision: 20/20 visual acuity means you can see clearly at 20 feet what should normally be seen at that distance. Investors and savers haven’t some crystal ball that suggests they know what the coming decade holds.

A century ago, the “Roaring 20s” got its nickname from a freewheeling, popular culture, from social changes, including Prohibition, women winning the right to vote and more. But from an investing and money-management standpoint, the stock-market crash of 1929 made it more like the Whimpering 20s, effectively triggering the Great Depression.

The 1990s, for example, are now often characterized as the Internet Bubble days – indicating both the solid stock market that led to incredible growth but also the burst that ended the period – and the 2000s are remembered more for financial crises than any sort of forward progress.


  • There’s no way to know how the next decade will turn out politically, socially or economically – nor can you be completely certain of your health, welfare or employment status — but that doesn’t mean we can’t take aim at key financial targets.

Looking out with a longer lens changes the view dramatically, as you can expect ups, downs, recessions and rallies but your focus should be steely-eyed on your long-term needs.

Personally, for example, the decade ahead takes me to standard retirement age of 67. Where I stand with my investments at the end of the 2020s will be vitally important for how I live the rest of my life.

Yet every decade represents an important stage of life. My youngest daughter, by comparison, just graduated with her doctorate in physical therapy and is setting out in her career; like most young people, the first serious decade of a work career, the ability to pay down student debt and control finances can set the tone for a lifetime.

For young families, a decade of financial planning can determine the future of the children when it comes to the debts they will carry with them after college and more.

No matter where you are in life, you should have a vision of where you would like to be financially a decade from now. You don’t have to resolve to reach your targets, necessarily, but your financial life should be one long action plan for getting from where you are now to where you want to be at the start of the 2030s, as you enter retirement and beyond.

To help you make new-decade resolutions, consider basic metrics for assessing retirement readiness, allowing you to determine the progress you’d like to make in the next 10 years.


Here are four metrics to use that can help you set Decade Resolutions for where your finances will be come 2030:

  • Your “financial independence number” is loosely derived from calculating your annual spending – or the spending level you anticipate for yourself in retirement – and multiplying it by 25.

The result is the invested assets a worker should aim to accumulate before retiring (and if you want to retire earlier, raise the multiplier from 25 to however many years you expect to be retired).

See how far along you are toward your independence number and decide where you want to be in a decade. If you will be retiring in 2030, you need to be at or beyond the independence number; if you are mid-career, you’d like to be halfway there and so on.

  • Age-based savings benchmarks tell you roughly how many times your salary to save by a specific age in order to feel comfortable that you are on track to retire.

Fidelity Investments has a scale that has become widely accepted which shows that workers should strive to have saved up three times their salary by age 40, six times their salary by age 50, eight times their salary invested at age 60 and to have 10 times salary saved and invested when they hit 67.

I long ago resolved to be ahead on this scale, so my new-decade resolve is to get to a number that is more “very comfortable” than “sufficient.” For my daughter in her mid-20s, by comparison, she might try to hit her age-40 goal early, putting her ahead of the curve.

  • The retirement-replacement ratio is your expected income after retirement, divided by your income made during your work days.

The rule of thumb here is that you need 70 percent of your pre-retirement income to maintain your standard of living for a lifetime. Calculating this number now may convince you to change your income picture and to raise your ratio, which makes it another long-term target worth considering.

  • Consider net worth, your big total number.

Your net worth is everything you own – investments, savings, the value of your home and valuables – minus everything you owe. While hitting a specific net-worth target is not a guarantee of living comfortably forever – that’s determined more by your standard of living – the reality is that all your financial actions filter down to your net worth.

Knowing where you’d like your net worth to be a decade from now means you can reach your target by any combination of investing, cutting debt, paying off the mortgage, maximizing retirement savings and more, adjusting to next decade’s life news and noise while still always maintaining a healthy target and financial goal.