There’s plenty to be pumped about in your 30s—like marriage, kids and career growth, just to name a few! With so many large changes in your life, handling money the right way becomes even more important.
Here are four steps you can take right now to become more intentional about your money so you face this exciting phase of your life with confidence and set yourself up for a more secure future.
1. Move Past Basic Budgeting
Most twentysomethings are on a rice-and-beans budget. Entry-level jobs and student loans mean there’s not much room for luxury.
But as you enter your 30s and start earning more, you can start setting—and meeting—important money goals. Don’t fall for the trap that a higher income means you “deserve” a new car or an expensive new wardrobe. Use your income to pay off all loans and credit cards and get rid of debt for good.
2. Set Some Big Goals
Next, save up an emergency fund of three to six months of expenses. Once you’re debt-free and have a cushion of savings, you’ll have a financial foundation most folks twice your age can only wish they had had in their 30s.
Your next goal is to save a down payment for a home. When you’re ready to put down roots and stay in one place for at least five years, you’ll be in a great position to buy. Again, avoid the temptation to go for the big home—and the huge mortgage that comes with it. Keep it conservative so you can use your income to start building wealth for the future.
3. Get on the Long (Long) Road to Retirement
As kids start to come into the picture, your budget may feel the strain—especially if one parent stays home to care for the kids. Whether yours is a one- or two-income family, it will take careful planning to meet your long-term goals like college savings and retirement.
With 30 or more years until retirement, you have time to let compound interest work its magic on your savings. If you’re not already enrolled in your company’s 401(k) program—start now!
4. Ask Questions and Get Answers You Can Trust
People in their 30s really are at a great time in life. You have the potential to reach your goals, and you’re mature enough to know they won’t be handed to you on a silver platter—you’ve got to work hard and take action to reach them.
You’ve also got enough life experience under your belt to know you don’t have all the answers about some things like long-term retirement investing. Begin looking closer at all the financial benefits your company offers, and don’t be afraid to talk with your HR department or a professional.
Your 30s will be filled with exciting changes and challenges, but they’re also the perfect time to lay the foundation for a secure future. You’re not getting any younger, so get started today!