5 Money Moves You Should Make in Your 30s
- June 14, 2020
- by Ashley Chorpenning
After spending your 20s getting acclimated to adulthood, you may be ready to take the next steps toward financial security. Perhaps, you are deciding whether to start a family and want to plan well for it or are taking a promotion and want to invest your money. Regardless of the things happening in your career or your life, your 30s are a great time to make smart money moves to propel you toward the future.
Read on to discover the five money moves that you should make in your 30s.
Have an Emergency Fund
The first thing you should do for yourself is to build a financial foundation, and the first step to building that foundation is an emergency fund. If you have a consistent income and can cover your monthly expenses, it is wise to have at least three months of expenses saved. If you are a freelancer or a seasonal employee, you may want to save more than three months of expenses since your income may be irregular.
Having an emergency fund will help you to avoid racking up serious amounts of debt if you ever go through a period of unemployment. It will also help you in case an unplanned expense pops up while you are employed. An emergency fund will give you a cushion to fall back on in case you go through a period of unemployment or must take extended time off work.
You should keep this money easily accessible. Ideally, an emergency fund is in a savings or checking account so that you can get to it when you need it. However if you are keeping that amount of money at the same bank you do most of your financial transaction at consider turning off overdraft protection which thieves love. You may want to budget a certain amount to put into your emergency fund each month to build up this cash reserve. You could also consider taking on a side hustle to boost this fund as well.
Pay Off Your Debt
You may have taken on student loans, an auto loan, or credit card debt in your 20s. If you went to college or did so directly after high school, you are likely a decade removed from college, and likely close to paying off your student loans. Many 20-somethings take on credit card debt as they start their professional lives and work to pay it off during their 20s. People tend to purchase their first car with an auto loan and work to pay it off in their 20s. If any or all of these are you, then you’re likely getting close to paying off your debt.
Now that you’re in your 30s, you should make it a goal to pay off your debt. You should always pay at least the minimums on your accounts, and contribute any extra money in your budget to the accounts that have the highest interest rates. You will likely want to pay off credit cards first, then personal loans and private student loans. By paying off the accounts with the highest interest rates, you will reduce the amount that you pay overall. As you pay down debt, you can use the money that you were using to make payments to build toward your future. This may mean contributing to an emergency fund or any of your other financial goals.
Contribute to Retirement
Though retirement may feel far in the future while in your 30s, you should start saving for retirement. The sooner you start saving, the more opportunity you will give your money to grow. For example, if you save only $300 a month starting at age 32 and invest at an average annual return of 7%, you will have nearly half a million dollars by age 67. [ needs calculator link]
Another way to invest is to contribute to a 401(k). If your employer offers a 401(k) plan, signing up is likely the easiest way to start saving. Many employers offer a match, so they will contribute an equal amount that you do up to a certain percentage. Additionally, this money is typically taken from your paycheck after taxes, so you don’t have to make payments as you contribute. If your employer does not offer a 401(k), you may want to open an Individual Retirement Account (IRA).
If possible, you should also change your mentality from ‘doing enough to match your 401(k)’ to ‘doing enough to retire comfortably’. There are a few simple steps you can take to maximize your retirement contribution. If you can contribute beyond the 401(k) match, do it. If you have contributed to retirement accounts in previous jobs, you may want to take the opportunity to work with a financial advisor to ensure that all your funds are invested in the best way for you.
Assess Your Insurance Coverage
If you work for an employer, you likely have benefits that include health, life, and disability insurance. Your 30s will likely bring changes in familial status, job status, and other life events that provide a perfect opportunity to assess your insurance coverage.
If you have a family, you need to have enough life insurance to replace your income if you die. In a similar situation, you will want to have long and short-disability insurance if your family counts on your income if you are injured and can no longer work.
While these benefits may be covered by an employer, it is also wise to find out if these coverages will follow you into retirement, and if they are enough to cover your family’s needs. For example, if your company offers $100,000 of life insurance but your family would need at least $400,000 in the years following your death, then you may want to purchase private permanent life insurance.
The good news is, if you need to purchase life or disability insurance in your 30s, it will be at a significantly lower rate than if you were to choose to purchase insurance later in life. This is especially true if you are in good health.
Once you have paid down your debt and have your retirement and emergency fund bases covered, you should consider investing. One way to do this is to take the money you were using to pay off debt and repurpose it toward a consistent monthly investment.
For those with young families, you may want to consider contributing to a college fund. Do not wait until your kids get to high school before devising a plan for higher education. Some options include a 529 plan, prepaid tuition plan, or an Education Savings Account.
Additionally, you may want to start saving to make a 20% down payment on a home. While one can buy a home with less than 20% down, investing at least 20% equity in your home helps you to get a larger or lower-rate mortgage, thus costing you less over the life of your investment.
Though achieving all these goals may seem monumental during your 30s, remember that you have 10 years to make them happen. From paying off your debt to creating a short-term nest egg to investing in your future, there are many small steps you can take to create success in the future. By creating a great foundation for yourself now, you’ll set yourself up for a financially sound 40s.
For more information on how to organize your finances with ease, consider using Wealth Meta’s goal-setting tools such as our financial calculators to help you plan for retirement and achieve financial success.