Blowing out the candles on your 30th birthday is often accompanied with, “Oh no. I’m a grown-up.”
Yes, you are. And it’s time to act like it. There’s no use beating yourself up over what you did or didn’t do in your 20s. Once they’re gone, all you can do is pick up the pieces and do better.
Nip it In the Bud
If you didn’t pay-off your credit card debt in yours 20s, it’s a must in your 30s. This stage of your life is about building assets, and trimming your financial fat. Stay out of Starbucks, pack your lunch, disconnect the cable, stop calling Pizza Hut, and start clipping those coupons. No excuses. Just get it done.
If you’ve embarked on a career that you love, great. Stick to it, and keep honing your skills. But if you’ve been bouncing from one job to another, one state to another, or one educational degree to another, it’s time to get focused. Being unable to commit to anything (or anyone) isn’t a sign of freedom. It’s a sign of immaturity. If you’re unhappy, fix it. But don’t just jump on the next train. Make sure that the next place you land is truly the right place. Instability can be expensive, and it’s hard to build a financial future on unstable ground.
Life can take an unexpected turn at any moment (such as a job loss), and mom and dad shouldn’t be your security blanket. Calculate how much money is needed to cover your monthly expenses (the ones that are necessary), then save an emergency fund – the amount of money that would be needed to sustain your lifestyle for three to six months. Proverbs 22:3 teaches, “Wise people see trouble coming and get out of its way, but fools go straight to it and suffer for it” (Easy-to-Read Version).
It’s also important to have adequate homeowner’s (or renter’s) insurance, health insurance, and disability insurance. Plus, if you have children, life insurance is a must. (Even without kids, it’s a smart idea). In your 30s, you can get a great deal on term life insurance. For instance, a 35-year- old non-smoking woman can get a $500,000, 20-year term life policy for as little as $230 a year.
It can be difficult to think far ahead, but it’s best to start planning for retirement in your 30s. If your employer offers a 401(k) plan, take advantage of this savings opportunity. The contributions you make to a 401(k) plan are tax-deferred. This means they are deducted from your pay before taxes are assessed. If your employer matches your contribution, that’s great news! Since this free money, try to contribute at least the max being matched by your employer. If your employer doesn't match your contribution or offer a 401(k) plan, it’s a bummer – but not the end of the world. You can still squirrel-away 5, 10, or 15 percent of your pre-tax income. An Individual Retirement Account (IRA) is a flexible way to build up your retirement stash. Unlike standard savings accounts, IRAs are tax deferred until you withdraw the funds in retirement. Once you have grown your retirement savings in an IRA, you should speak to a financial professional about diversifying your financial portfolio.
Get Over the Joneses
Never make a financial decision based on what other people have. Proverbs 13:7 states, “Some people pretend they are rich, but they have nothing. Others pretend they are poor, but they are really rich” (Easy-to-Read Version). So keep your eyes on your own situation. Who knows if your friends can really afford that vacation, car, or house? And at this stage of your life, even if you could afford your neighbor’s latest acquisition, maybe it’s better for you to pass. Keeping up with someone else’s lifestyle (at this age or any age) will always be a bad financial move.