You're still neck deep in college loan debt, but that may not be the only financial obligation that keeps you up at night. Parents do not want to see their kids saddled with the same burden two-plus decades later. You've probably been promising yourself for years you'd start stockpiling money for their eventual Harvard enrollment. Fortunately, you can—tax free—with the Oregon College Savings Plan (oregoncollegesavings.com). Anyone can start investing, including the future student. Local residents even get a tax deduction on contributions up to a certain amount. Once the kiddo is ready for college, the funds can be used at any accredited institution and you pay no taxes on the profits from your investment.
In a city where the median price for a house is more than $400,000, the prospect of becoming a homeowner may look bleak. Making your income stretch to cover a mortgage payment is a math problem more frustrating than those rate-time-distance questions where two trains end up colliding. The process may seem painful, but then, you didn't learn how to solve those problems alone, and it's the same with buying property. You can find step-by-step assistance at the Portland Housing Center (3233 NE Sandy Blvd., 503-282-7744, portlandhousingcenter.org)—including everything from plans to lug your credit score from the murky pits of no-loan-land to assistance with closing costs. The nonprofit even offers financial fitness classes, which should improve your ability to balance the impulse to eat out five nights a week with the imperative of saving for a down payment. Oregon Individual
Chances are good that whatever big bank you do business with now offers a pretty meager interest rate for the average savings account, if it has one at all. Now envision a reserve where those funds receive a 3-to-1 match—for every $1 you save, that pot of money grows by $4. Oregon Individual Development Accounts (oregonidainitiative.org) are savings superhighways for lower-income individuals with a set goal, like, say, buying a home, launching a small business or going to school. Participants must be at least 12 years old, have a net worth less than $20,000 and the ability to stash away at least $25 a month along with a household income below the IDA income limits (for a Multnomah County resident, that would be $45,600 for one person and $65,100 for a family of four). There's required coaching with one of the initiative's partnering organizations, but they're simply training you on topics like budgeting or business plan development—skills you have probably wished you'd acquired back in high school.
Long gone are the days of reliable, secure pensions your parents or grandparents may have known. Even if your employer does offer a 401(k), matching is not required, and plenty of smaller businesses have no retirement plans. But there's hope you can actually stop working before you keel over on the clock thanks to OregonSaves (oregonsaves.com). The state Legislature created the program in which employees contribute part of their paycheck to a Roth IRA—and that account will stay with them even if they move from job to job. Individuals are allowed to simply start their own—there's an annual fee of approximately $1 per $100 saved to cover administrative costs—or employers can register and handle payroll deductions.