Your 30s is that time in your life when you know who you are and your priorities have shifted. Perhaps when you were younger, you thought you’d have it all figured out by the time you reached your 30s. While that may not be the case, there is no better time than the present to start figuring out your finances.
Good money habits can help you stay out of debt, save more for those things you want, and plan for your future goals. In this article, we’ll take a look at twelve financial tips from the pros on how to better manage your money at this exciting time in your life.
1. Figure Out Your Debt Situation
A university degree will undoubtedly make you more employable, but a good college education comes at a price, and many 30-year-olds are still carrying student loan debt.
You will want to pay off these debts; the sooner you can get rid of them, the less you’ll pay in the long run.
You can still save for retirement and build a decent emergency fund while paying back your loans or other debts.
Consider transferring that monthly amount into a savings account or retirement annuity once you’ve paid off any debt, such as a credit card, home loan, or student loan.
2. Actually Stick to a Budget
Just because you have more money doesn’t mean you should throw your budget out the window.
Your budget should be designed to maximize your savings, contribute to your retirement, and pay off all those essential bills before putting a little bit aside for indulging yourself.
Try not to compare or keep up with your peers, and don’t let the way other people spend their money influence the budget that you have set for yourself.
That said, remember that you can adjust your budget as you start earning more or your expenses increase. Don’t be afraid to make incremental changes as long as you meet your savings goals.
3. Live Below Your Means
The trick to saving money is to spend less than you make and live below your means. You don’t necessarily need to spend more as you start earning more and getting older.
While there’s nothing wrong with indulging in small luxuries now and again, don’t let your budget go out the window.
Still, try to be strict with yourself when purchasing non-essential items like expensive clothes, dining out, and a new car.
Instead of buying things that could potentially throw you into more debt, look for small rewards like a nice bottle of wine or a day at the salon.
4. Eliminate Credit Cards
Misusing credit cards is a sure-fire way to get yourself into debt. Credit cards have costly, high-interest rates, and you could quickly end up spending more than you want or need to for particular items.
You shouldn’t be putting vacations or other non-essentials on your credit cards, as that only means more debt you have to pay off later on.
5. Start Saving
Every month, before you start paying off bills or spending your hard-earned cash, make an effort to put some money aside in your savings.
This is known as paying yourself and is an excellent way to make a habit of saving to make your money start working for you. There are various ways that you can pay yourself and start saving.
Use a high-interest savings account
Where you decide to put your savings is essential. You’ll want an account that yields as high an interest rate as possible without garnering exorbitant fees. You’ll also want to consider the contract length, withdrawal policies, and any exit fees.
You also need to consider whether or not the account you’re looking at offers compound interest, as this is one way to grow your savings quickly.
Automate your savings
Setting up a direct deposit into a savings account every month is an easy way to remember to save. This automation means you don’t have to think about it each month, and soon enough, you won’t even miss that small amount that comes off every month.
Balance your long-term financial goals
When looking at your long-term financial goals, try picking three to focus on. Know how much you need to save to reach these goals and when to achieve them. You may need to cut back on some of your current expenses to achieve these future dreams.
You’ll want to start thinking about long-term financial goals, such as saving for your children’s university or college.
Some states offer what is known as a 529 plan which allows you to open up a college tuition account in your kid’s name and benefit from certain tax deductions.
Your long-term goals might also include buying a home, and thus you’ll want to start saving for that down payment.
Fund short-term money goals
While long-term financial goals will help you plan your savings, you also need to be realistic about your short-term money goals. These can be anything from saving up for a big birthday bash, or an engagement, to buying a new car.
You won’t want to risk the money you need for these short-term goals on something like the stock market or put it away in a CD investment fund.
Short-term goals should typically be achieved within a few months, or no more than two new years, and the priority for this money should be keeping it safe and easily accessible.
That said, you still shouldn’t keep your cash in your standard bank account, and you still want your money to be working for you in a place that earns a decent amount of interest.
6. Keep an Eye on Your Credit Score
Your credit score affects any loans you want to get, as well as the interest rates applied on those loans.
The lower your credit score, the higher risk you are and the harder it will be to borrow money, and you will attract higher interest rates. Having a good credit score is paramount as you look to buy a house or a new car in your 30s.
To get a good credit score, you need to ensure that you make on-time payments to your credit card and any loan accounts or contracts, never miss payments, and keep an eye on how much debt you accumulate.
7. Establish a Strong Emergency Fund
Emergencies will happen, and you don’t want life’s unforeseen events to bankrupt you when they do come around. One way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to have an established emergency fund for when you need it.
This emergency fund should only be used when you need to pay for urgent things you didn’t budget for, such as a medical emergency or fall out from a natural disaster.
Ideally, you want this money to be kept in a high-interest bearing liquid account, and it should hold between three and six months’ worth of your salary.
As your expenses increase and you get on in years, so should your emergency fund, as there is more chance you might need to tap into it.
8. Regularly Contribute to Your Retirement Account
If you want to retire at 60, you’re already halfway there, so you should be saving for it. The only way to save for when you’re older is to start making regular contributions to retirement savings.
Retirement accounts allow you to exponentiate your savings by allowing compound interest, so you are essentially earning interest on interest.
How much should you save for retirement anyway?
A good retirement contribution to work towards is 15% of your monthly salary. By the time you hit 30, you want your retirement fund to be equal to your salary; by 35, your fund should have reached twice your annual salary, and by 40, it should be three times your salary.
You should set your retirement contributions to increase annually. Even a 1% increase every year can make a big difference to your savings when you’re ready to retire.
Every time you get a pay increase, you’ll want to increase what you are putting away for retirement.
Start with your 401(k)
Many company’s offer 401ks to employees in which the company matches whatever funds you put in. Before you start any new job, it’s worth asking what their options are in this respect.
If this is the case at your company, ensure you put in the maximum amount your employer will match, so you’re not leaving any money on the table.
Self-direct your retirement account / Open an IRA
There are many options for retirement accounts, including IRAs, pension funds, and retirement plans.
If you are already putting the maximum amount into your 401k, you might consider opening up an additional IRA.
An Individual Retirement Account or IRA will help bolster the savings in your 401k or are an excellent option for people who aren’t offered 401k contributions in their line of work.
Convert to a Roth IRA
An IRA can be traditional or what is known as a Roth IRA. The difference between the two comes down to how the taxes are applied.
In a traditional IRA, you can invest tax-free, but these figures are taxed when you start making withdrawals at retirement. In a Roth IRA, you make your contributions after-tax, but your withdrawals are tax-free.
With a Roth IRA, you are also never forced to cash out your investment, so your savings and interest continue to compound for as long as you want. There are, however, income limits for contributing to one of these types of retirement savings plans.
9. Contribute to the Matching Point
Most 401ks have a high annual contribution limit, but employers typically set a cap on the point where they will match your personal contributions.
It’s advisable to contribute until this matching point as you’re essentially getting free money from your employer that you wouldn’t otherwise have access to.
10. Invest Wisely
Investment accounts allow you to earn more interest, but you may trigger withdrawal fees before the maturity date if you draw your money. There can also be more tax consequences when it comes to investment accounts.
- Maintain an aggressive asset allocation: You can diversify your savings by putting your money in different assets, from stocks to products you can sell like homes or classic cars. Investing is less risky when you split your money across various portfolios and investment opportunities.
You’ll also want to keep a keen eye on the savings accounts and retirement plans you have to ensure that you are achieving maximum growth. Markets rise and fall, and while decreases in your savings are expected, they can be tough to stomach. Just remember that all savings should be looked at with a long-term view.
- Keep company stock in check: If you have shares in the company you work for, or hope to have in the future, be sure to watch your company’s position on the stock market. You don’t want your stock in one company to exceed about 10% of your portfolio, as your savings will be too determined by the moves of one business.
11. Get Insurance
Part of being an adult is to plan for your family or partner if something happens to you. Thankfully, various products like life or disability insurance cover you should anything happen.
- Get life insurance: Life insurances offer good income protection for not that much money each month. This is a great way to protect your family’s income in the unfortunate event that something happens to you.
While your company may offer life insurance as part of your package, just remember that if you quit your job or get fired, you’ll lose this benefit.
- Get health insurance: Medical fees can be expensive, and decent health insurance will ensure that you can pay for any hospital and doctor’s bills should the need arise. Health insurance can be costly, so it’s essential to shop around and look for one suited to your needs.
- Choose a plan with a health savings account: Some health insurance options offer health savings account. This is essentially a savings account that will pay out for co-payments and any shortfalls not covered by your standard plan.
This is a great way to put extra money aside for medical expenses, and if your company is contributing towards a portion of your health plan, this is another way of getting more bang for your buck.
- Protect your earnings with disability insurance: If you’re injured or unable to work, disability insurance will kick in to protect your earnings for some time. Some employers offer disability insurance as part of your package, or you can purchase your contract independently.
- Get home insurance: Protecting your home can save you thousands, if not millions, of dollars in the case of burglary, fires, flooding, or a range of other disasters. Options vary depending on the size of your home and where you live, but you’ll want to take home insurance that covers not only the building but also the contents in it.
- Get car insurance: Unfortunately, car crashes are pretty standard, and car insurance will provide you with coverage if your car is damaged or stolen. Don’t be afraid to look at various car insurance options to find the one that offers you the most benefits for the price.
Also, take a careful look at the excess options and try and go for an excess waiver if you can afford it.
12. Advancing in Your Career
As you advance in your career, life also seems to get more expensive, and this is because you need to factor in things like inflation, buying a home, and having children.
When you draw up your financial plan for your future, it’s essential to plan for expected pay rises and increases in expenses.
- Negotiate a job offer: All job offers are negotiable. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want regarding compensation, benefits, and working hours. Always have goals for yourself, and trying to get these before you are hired will be easier than negotiating them after the fact. The company can always say no.
- Negotiate a raise: Asking for a raise can be nerve-wracking, but if you know you’re worth more, it’s worth discussing your thoughts with your employer, or you could come to resent your work and your boss.
Think out your plan of attack before approaching your company for raise and look for the right timing. You’ll also want to highlight any great work you’re doing while proving that you have earned the company more money.
If your company rejects a monetary raise, you can always bargain for something else like more vacation time or stock options.
- Pick employer benefits: Before you agree to any job, it’s a good idea to understand the benefits on offer. Every company will be different in what they offer, but various benefits include insurance options, 401k contributions, parental leave, paid time off, spending accounts, and flexible hours.
- Don’t let a better job derail your retirement plan: When you change jobs, your retirement fund may take a hit. You don’t necessarily have to cash out your 401k, which will incur penalty fees. The better move would be to switch your 401k into an IRA so that you can continue investing.
Also, be sure to check your contract regarding the amount of time you have to work at a company to take advantage of the benefits of your 401k. It may be worth it to wait to reach a particular vesting milestone before quitting a job.
Frequently Asked Questions on Saving & Investing in Your 30s
Is 35 too old to start saving?
Saving allows you to give yourself options no matter your age, and while we all would have loved to start saving in our 20s, unfortunately, many of us simply didn’t, perhaps due to financial constraints or maybe just because we were none the wiser.
That said, it’s never too late to start, and the savings plans you put in place now will help build your future options.
How much should a 35-year-old have saved?
The exact amount you should be saving is unique to your lifestyle, how much you earn, and the goals you have for your future. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to saving; that’s why it’s essential to set your budget and plan for your financial future.
How can you invest wisely in your 401(k)?
As mentioned, you want to make the maximum allowable contribution each year to any employer-matched 401k retirement fund as you’ll be getting an equal amount paid by your company.
You should also gradually increase your retirement investments over time, and you are less likely to miss the money if you make incremental increases over a few months.
Should you think beyond a 401(k)?
Yes, you should think beyond a 401k. While retirement planning is a fundamental goal of securing your financial future, it should by no means be your only goal.
You should also set aside savings for other things such as vacations, your kid’s education, or a down payment for a house.
The trick to building a sound financial plan is setting goals, stashing away any cash windfalls, and constantly readjusting your budget. You can also look at various savings plans to help you achieve these goals.
How can you learn more about Roth IRAs?
Thankfully, there are many online resources that you can consult to learn more about Roth IRAs, how to invest in different IRAs and how to calculate the investment potential of your various retirement funds.
A simple Google search will provide a wealth of resources to consult regarding any questions you have about Roth IRAs.
Do you need a financial advisor to start investing?
You don’t need a financial advisor to start investing. Still, financial advisors can assist you in figuring out what investments will yield you the most bang for your buck and understanding the various tax implications of different investment properties.
These advisory services do, however, come at a price. An automated robot-advisor may be a more affordable way of getting your required services.
How can you learn about investing in stocks?
The wide assortment of stocks that you can invest in is intimidating. You can look at international stocks, invest in small local companies, or choose diversified index funds. You can also buy bonds that tend to move opposite to stocks to try and balance your investments.
If it’s your first time investing in stocks, it’s advisable to do so under the guidance of an advisor. Robo-advisors are also computer-generated advisors that allow you to build and manage a portfolio for a smaller free. These portfolios often match or copycat professional investors.
What are Other Helpful Tips for Saving Money in Your 30s?
The day-to-day challenges of life in your 30s, such as advancing your career, raising a family, and building relationships, can make saving money an afterthought. But it shouldn’t be.
Here are some other helpful tips and tricks you can apply to your life to secure a better financial future.
- Talk about money with your partner: Now that you’re in your 30s, you might find yourself in a committed relationship, or perhaps you’re even married. Many marriages fail over money problems, so building a healthy, open conversation around your financial status is critical.
Set time aside every month to go over your accounts, savings, and insurance plans so that you are both on the same page and know where everything stands. You can also set goals together for your shared financial future.
- Pocket your raise: Lifestyle creep is when you start to spend more as you earn more. You can avoid this by pocketing any raises you get, and instead of adding more expenses, simply add the extra money into your savings.
- Prepare for a recession: The economy is fluid, and we all have to live through a recession at some point. Pulling your money from your stock or retirement savings when the market crashes can cost you more in the long run. The best way to protect yourself from a recession is by diversifying your portfolio.
- Prepare for a job loss: There is always the possibility that you could lose your job, whether you work for yourself or someone else, as you never know what the future holds. Losing a job can be a substantial financial strain, but you can prepare for this by creating an emergency savings account.
You should also look at your contract regarding any benefits in severance or redundancy pay. If you do lose your job, also don’t hesitate to apply for any state unemployment benefits with immediate effect.
- Make an estate plan: An estate plan is a document that advises how you want your assets to be handled if you can’t handle them yourself. Wills and trusts also form part of your estate plan, providing details on where your money and assets will go.
- Teach your child about money: Kids are quick to learn what we teach them, and children that learn about money and how to save from a young age will be better set for the future. Give your kids their accounts, provide them with allowances, and play money-themed board games with them to start establishing good habits.
- Protect your identity: You don’t want to lose your hard-earned cash to scammers and fraudsters, so it’s vitally important you protect your identity. You can take various steps to do so, including never saving your credit card details online, keeping your pin private, and changing your passwords often.
- Start a side hustle: If you have cut everything you can and your expenses still outweigh your income, it may be time to consider a side gig. Nowadays, there are many ways that you can make money online.
- Get a prenup: A prenup is a written agreement that says what will happen when a marriage ends. Prenups can be expensive to put together, but they are a great way to protect your money, especially if your partner is unfaithful. This is an excellent way to gauge where your partner stands on financial matters.
- Merge your accounts: Merging your accounts with your partner can make it easier to track your expenses. You’ll be better prepared to deal with emergencies, and you will be paying fewer bank fees.
- Learn how to deal with divorce: Divorces can be expensive, never mind the toll they will take on you emotionally. You’ll want to get a lawyer involved to help, and you’ll need to make a list of all the things you pay for together, such as wifi, cellphone bills, cable, gym memberships, etc.
It’s essential to be thorough when handling these finances, so everyone knows where they stand at the end of the day and no important bills slip through the cracks.
- Renovate your home: Unfortunately, many people buy houses they actually can’t afford, and this can mean a debt disaster for years to come.
Instead of looking for a large, new home out of your budget, consider renovating where you already live or looking for an older or smaller home that you can work on in the years to come.
- Figure out allowance: As mentioned, you’ll want to nurture healthy financial relationships with your children from a young age. Giving your kid an allowance can help them make their own financial decisions and teach them how to budget.
- Do taxes: You can save a lot of money by being savvy about your taxes. It may help to get advice from a tax practitioner who can assist in finding tax-free savings accounts and claiming back any additional expenses.
What are Good Smart Tools and Strategies for Savers?
The trick to being an intelligent saver is to reset your thinking on what it means to be rich.
As you move into this new stage in your life, having wealth might mean being able to provide for your family, give back to others, or advance your career. Or it might mean being able to afford luxuries like an overseas vacation.
Whatever your goals, you need to think about saving, and here are a few clever tools and strategies to help you do so.
- Be specific about your goals: Also, set deadlines for when you hope to accomplish them. This will give you a framework to work towards regarding how much you need to save and when.
- Use innovative savings tools: Allow technology to help you track your expenses and keep track of your goals and priorities.
- Stay consistent: You shouldn’t only be putting money aside when you get a windfall of cash, but you should be consistently saving for your future.
- Start micro saving: Putting away a couple of dollars a day or rounding up your purchases can help you reach your savings goals quicker without really noticing a knock.
- Invest in an index and exchange-traded funds: Index funds allow to invest in some of the biggest company’s in the world under one fund, rather than investing in each company by themselves. These funds will enable you to diversify your assets and minimize risk without having to know an awful lot about the stock market.
The Final Word on How to Build Wealth in Your 30s
It’s never too late to start saving, and there is no better time than in your 30s to secure your financial future.
To ensure you can provide for yourself and your family right through into retirement, you need to be thinking about your savings, retirement plans, paying off debt, establishing financial goals, and more.
Money is a great stress-inducer, and your 30s is an excellent time to put in the foundation for building a solid financial future. The money decisions you make today will help give you peace of mind, freedom, and ultimately happiness in the years to come.
Do you have any tips and tricks for making your money go further? We’d love to hear them. Please let us know your advice for managing your money in your 30s below.