One of the most important elements of living a happy, rewarding life is financial security. If you have it, you’re far more likely to live longer, and with less stress, than people who lack monetary resources and stability.

In many ways, building a solid support system for the long haul is about making the right decisions at key points, often referred to as money milestones. Choose correctly, and work hard to make ends meet, and you’ll be on the road to a happy old age, with few money worries.

Of course, there are no guarantees that everything will be rosy and perfect even if you make all the right decisions. But, staying on top of your fiscal health vastly improves your chances for success.

Never be reluctant to seek outside help when you feel stumped about a particular challenge. Experts, like CPAs, real estate professionals, career advisors, insurance agents, debt counselors, and even trusted clergy members, can offer valuable assistance at key times in your life.

The good news is that when you seek advice from the right sources, you increase the probability of getting the result you want. Here are the details about nine milestones that most every working adult will face between age 18 and 50. Review the list and see how many you already have under control and which ones need some extra attention.

Getting an Education

For most prospective college or graduate school students, it’s often more challenging to pay for schooling than to gain acceptance to a particular academic program. You can uncover the best rates on personal loans, from private lenders, that can cover the costs of a degree, whether it’s a bachelor’s or master’s diploma you’re aiming for.

One of the overlooked advantages of taking care of education finances up front is that studying, and focusing on earning excellent grades, becomes much easier. That’s mainly because students who have the bills paid ahead of time aren’t distracted by financial worries about where next semester’s tuition will be coming from.

Choosing a Career

There’s no law that says you need to select a career path by any specific age, but the earlier you do so, the better. This rule especially holds true for areas of endeavor that require several years of preparation, like medicine, law, accounting, engineering, IT, and others.

The other advantage of narrowing down your career choices at a young age is related to efficiency. If you are dead-set, for example, on becoming a CPA while still in your twenties, that allows you plenty of time to take the needed courses and put in the two-year work requirement for earning a CPA certificate.

That’s just one example, but in nearly every career field, you gain a lot making a decision on a path as early as possible.

Buying a House

When you set out to purchase your first home, don’t work alone. Enlist of the help of family, friends, and a trusted real estate pro. In fact, find a real estate agent by asking people in your personal network for referrals. A reliable, skilled real estate expert can save you lots of time and money, and will work hard to locate a property that meets all your requirements.

Avoid conducting a search alone and solely online. This is not to say that internet research is worthless. In fact, it’s a good way to get a handle on what’s available and the general price level in your area of preference.

However, once you get a general understanding of what’s out there and what the price ranges are, connect with an agent and get busy touring homes.

Deciding about Life and Health Insurance

For most of the human population, insurance ranks as the most boring topic of all. However, when you face a life crisis, a health emergency, or want to make sure your family is taken care of after you die, insurance, all of a sudden, becomes of great interest.

Work with professional life insurance and health agents to determine the right amount and right kind of coverage for your particular situation. Don’t be afraid to shop around and get second opinions, but try to stick with a trusted professional who can help you make adjustments to coverage later on should your circumstances change.

Getting Married

Amid the popularity of online dating sites and cyber matchups, you’d think there was no other way to find a spouse. In fact, aside from several hyped media stories about couples who met online, the majority of young married couples today still meet either through their jobs or their churches. Don’t ignore these two resources when it comes time to narrow down your choices for a potential spouse.

Also, let one or two trusted friends, and perhaps a pastor or rabbi, know that you are looking. It never hurts to leverage the power of networking when you’re on a quest for true love. In Japan, for example, men and women who want to marry often let their bosses know that they’re eligible. Middle level managers then put the word out and help people find marriage partners.

Planning for Retirement

Often, advice about retirement planning falls on deaf ears, especially when those ears are under the age of 30. But, no matter your current age, make certain that you’re putting something away each month into a special account for retirement.

Make a point to speak with an expert in the field who can help you create a realistic savings plan that suits your budget and delivers the long-term financial security for a comfortable post-working life.

Dealing with Debt

Debt is a double-edged weapon. It’s good to have a high credit limit and at least one credit card in your wallet at all times. But too many let plastic get the better of them and end up with high-interest debt.

If you face a debt crisis, speak with a consumer counselor and make a detailed plan for getting things under control. The key to success in this realm is getting outside, objective help before the situation becomes critical.

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