As you move into your 30s, you face new financial challenges. Hopefully, you’ve been able to make some progress in your 20s, laying a foundation with at least some positive habits.
If you haven’t been serious about your money up to this point, now’s the time to really get down to it. Here are a few things to make sure you’re doing in your 30s to better manage your money.
1. Determine Your Financial Priorities
There’s a lot competing for your financial attention by the time you reach your 30s. Take a step back and figure out what matters to you.
You’re probably working on several financial goals at once, so it’s vital that you figure out timelines and amounts. Consider how you want your life to look in the future, and what you need to do now to reach that goal. Review your past spending using a tool like Personal Capital or Mint to identify where there might be inconsistencies. (Check out our guide on the 8 Best Finance Apps for Every Budget.)
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Decide what matters most, and direct your financial resources toward those things. When you’re clear on your priorities, it’s much easier to say no to the things that won’t help you achieve your short- and long-term financial goals.
2. Increase Your Retirement Contributions
As your income increases through promotions and raises, be sure to increase the amount of money you’re setting aside for retirement. In your 20s, you probably didn’t have as much available for retirement contributions. Now, hopefully, you can give your nest egg a needed boost.
If you’re not interested in sticking solely with your company’s retirement offerings, consider opening an IRA. You’ll have more control over your money, and you might be able to diversify the tax advantages if it makes sense to open a Roth. There are plenty of places to open a separate investment account, including Betterment.
Carefully review your options and decide what’s likely to best help you as you move forward.
3. Review Your Emergency Fund
How is your emergency fund doing? Have you met your funding goal? Or do you need to add a little more to the emergency fund? Review the situation and determine if you need to make some tweaks.
For example, if your emergency fund has grown to the point where it’s large enough that you feel comfortable, you might consider investing some of the money you might otherwise add to the fund.
Think about putting some of that money in bonds or even dividend stocks. Apps like Acorns and Robinhood allow you to take small amounts and help you learn to invest for the future. Consider ways that you can get a better return for some of that money--while still leaving the bulk of your emergency fund in a high-yield savings account.
4. Double-Check Your Insurance Amounts
Now that you have more items of value--and perhaps even a house--it’s a good idea to review your insurance coverage. Do you have the right coverage for your vehicles and home? What about health insurance for you and your family? If you have a pet, you might need to look into pet insurance to take care of your furry family member. And, of course, review your life insurance to ensure that it’s appropriate for your circumstances, income, and the needs of any dependents you have.
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If you qualify, it might make sense to open a Health Savings Account (HSA) to help you with present and future healthcare costs. An HSA offers a tax deduction and the money grows tax-free as long as you use it for qualified purposes. Review your family’s insurance needs and qualifications to see if this is an option for you.
Finally, consider getting disability insurance. At some point, there’s a chance you might be unable to work, and having some sort of disability insurance can protect your income. Policies are usually affordable, and you might even have the option through work.
5. Create a Will
If you don’t have one already, now is the time to create a will. With the help of a will, you can increase the chances that your assets are distributed as you prefer. If you have children, a will can help appoint guardians for them.
Consider other aspects of estate planning as well. You might need a living will, healthcare proxy, and other documents that can protect your interests if you become incapacitated and unable to move forward with business. Additionally, in some cases, it can make sense to create a trust for your assets, in an effort to avoid probate.
You can find basic will templates online and there are attorneys that have flat rates to create basic estate planning documents. If your needs are simple, you probably won’t need to spend a lot of money, and you’ll have peace of mind.
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6. Keep Working on Paying Down That Debt
Do you still have debt? You’re not alone! Plenty of people in their 30s have student loans, credit card, and other debt.
If you put a debt pay-down plan in place during your 20s, keep working on it. With an increased income and a better financial situation, you might even be able to put more toward debt reduction, allowing you to accelerate your plan.
Maybe you don’t have a debt repayment plan yet. Now is the time to create one. Take a look at your finances and figure out how you can start getting rid of your obligations. As you move through your 30s, being able to knock out one debt after the other frees up more of your financial resources to help you reach other goals.
Don’t Forget About Refinancing
One way to tackle your debt a little faster is to refinance or consolidate it. If it makes sense, refinancing your student loans can lead to a lower interest rate and payments that allow you to save money and get out of debt faster.
If you can refinance your mortgage, you might be able to save money in interest in the long run, even if you don’t shorten your term. Consolidating high-rate credit card debt into lower-rate personal loans can also make a difference in how quickly you can pay off debt and reduce what you pay overall in interest.
Review your options to see if you’re a good candidate for refinancing.
7. Consider Ways to Earn More Money
Many people in their 30s are concerned with making more money. Maybe you want to go on a family vacation or accelerate your plans for early retirement. No matter the reason, your 30s are a great time to lay a foundation for extra income.
You can start a side gig, make money online, or even get a part-time job. Use that money to further your financial goals, based on the priorities you’ve already established. One of the best ways to make the most of your money is to put it into items that lead to passive income eventually. Start building different revenue streams in your 30s, and you’ll reap the benefits in later years.
During your 20s, you had plenty of time to make mistakes. And, while you don’t have to get it all right in your 30s, you’re probably better off working to correct earlier mistakes and getting back on track with your finances. If you haven’t already, now is the time to get serious about your money--and what you want it to accomplish for you.