By the time many people reach their 30s, they’re at a point in life where they are likely to be established in their career field, have a spouse and children and own a home and at least one car. If you are in this age bracket and fall into one or more of the above categories, the time is just right for you to become proactive in regard to money management. Whether you’re new to the process or have always been frugal at heart, these 20 tips can help to ensure that your financial future is secure for you and your family in the coming decades.
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1. Pay Off Your Student Loans
If you’re well into your 30s, yet you’ve only been making minimum payments on your outstanding student loans, consider making it a priority to settle this debt as soon as you can. Adjust your budget so that more money can go toward these monthly payments.
2. Pay Off Any Credit Card Debt
Credit card debt can quickly get out of hand if you aren’t careful to stay on top of what you owe. Commit to paying off any debt that you presently have, starting with your smallest balance and working upward. Transfer your debts to one low-interest card if possible.
3. Review Your Budget When New Factors Arise
Your 30s are a time in which many lifestyle changes can affect your budget, such as the addition of a new baby or necessary home repairs. Make an active effort to examine your budget, and try to fit these additional expenses in before the event occurs.
4. Keep Your Budget Up-To-Date Even When No Major Changes Arise
Even if nothing major is impacting your finances in the present or near future, it’s always a good idea to monitor your budget each month in the interest of staying informed. Track your income and expenditures easily through the use of a budgeting software program.
5. Think About Savings For Immediate And Long-Term Goals
Rather than spend any extra money that you have at the end of each month, start a dedicated savings account for the purpose of funding a larger goal in either the short-term or long-term. Add money to the account periodically for items such as a vacation or college fund.
6. Take A Thorough Look At Your Insurance Policies
Just because you may already have auto, home, life or other insurance policies, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t shop around for better rates on occasion. Stay in the loop with your insurance agent, and ask to be notified when more cost-effective policy options become available.
7. Start Saving Money For Your Eventual Retirement
Although your retirement may still be 30 years or more in your future, take advantage of opportunities to start a retirement account such as a 401(k) or Roth IRA now. Remember to leave these accounts intact until you retire, as penalties are involved when you withdraw early.
8. Limit Frivolous Expenditures Whenever Possible
Splurging a bit on fun items every so often is perfectly fine, but keep in mind that these unnecessary purchases can add up quickly and eat into your budget if you’re not careful. For example, reduce your trips to the coffee shop if you are going every weekday.
9. Stay Informed About Refinancing Your Home
Home mortgage interest rates are always fluctuating, and refinancing your home for a lower rate may be a beneficial option for you at some point. Take time to learn about the home refinancing process, and consider what different lenders have to offer.
10. Look For Discounts On Insurance And Subscription Plans
Your monthly budget is likely to include some subscription services, such as cable, Internet and satellite radio, and may even include insurance plans for smaller home items of value. Check in with your providers and lenders for updates on discounts, deals and policy options that could save you money.
11. Familiarize Yourself With The Stock Market
Investing in promising stocks while in your 30s can lead to good profits for you and your family over time. Consult with experts in the field to get information on the best stocks to buy shares based on their predicted market potential.
12. Diversify Your Financial Portfolio
In addition to putting some of your money into stocks, ensure that you diversify your overall investment portfolio. Consider options such as bonds, high-interest savings accounts, retirement accounts and certificates of deposit. Diversifying your money means that if one area under-performs, another can pick up the slack.
13. Have A Safety Net
Although you may have the need to dip into your savings here and there, try to keep one account completely untouched as a safety net in case of a major financial emergency. Add money to this account when you can, and you’ll be well covered in a crisis.
14. Roll Over Your 401(k) If You Take A New Job
A sizable number of people change employers while in their 30s, and if this is the case for you, make sure that you roll your 401(k) from your old job into your retirement plan for your new job. You’ll keep earning without having to pay any penalties.
15. Enlist Support To Keep You Accountable
It’s easier to get and stay involved with good money management practices if you have an accountability partner. Check in with your spouse, a family member or a friend regularly so that you can share your mutual progress and exchange advice.
16. Strive To Live Within Your Means At All Times
The temptation to buy expensive items as status symbols hits some people in their 30s, but if you do not have the money to make these purchases without going into debt, you should hold off. Live by the philosophy of never spending more than what you earn.
17. Cut Corners On Food And Household Costs
Instead of paying marked-up prices for convenience food items, brand-name cleaning products and other household goods, cut corners by doing your own cooking with low-cost ingredients and creating natural cleaning products from inexpensive components such as white vinegar or baking soda.
18. Look For Opportunities To Advance In Your Field
If you’ve been in your career position for an extended amount of time and are seeking greater financial success overall, take the initiative to advance in your field and earn a higher salary. Keep an eye out for classes, certifications and job openings that can boost your profile.
19. Ask Advice From A Trusted Mentor
Most people can name one or two individuals for whom they have great respect in regard to money management. Whether you aim to emulate a parent, colleague or employer, seek the mentorship of someone who has been on your path and found success.
20. Start Passing Good Financial Habits Onto Your Kids
If you have children old enough to understand basic money concepts, get the whole family involved in saving. Keep a community jar of change in the house so that everyone can pitch in.