I did things a little opposite than most people. I had a child, finished school, had another child, bought a house then got married. Some people have things all planned out. I had most of these things figured out in my early twenties. Life happens though, after I got sick my whole world was turned up side down. Things I took for granted was a reality I had to face. I have compiled a list, I am sure there are other priorities, but these are the ones that mean the most to me.
1. Create Spending Priorities
By now, you should have a good idea of what you value in life, and what kind of lifestyle you want to lead. This means that it’s time to stop spending on stuff that isn’t important to you. I own a home and have a teenager and a pre teen, I also have animals that rely on me. My priorities are not myself.
Sit down, think about what you want to accomplish with your money, and then create a list of spending priorities that work for you. Then, spend according to those priorities. Your spending will be more in line with your values, and you’ll be happier as a result.
If you have a spouse, this involves them, too. My husband and I are always having discussions how we can save money for an upcoming event, or can we really afford another car? In our 30’s the constant topics revolved around upgrades to our home, travel, investing in our businesses, and our kids – two growing boys really add up! 🙂
2. Increase Your Emergency Fund
Take a look at your emergency fund. Is it big enough to cover your current lifestyle? Chances are that you have more expenses and obligations now than you did in your 20s. The emergency fund you had for that decade just isn’t going to cut it for your 30s.
Increase your rainy day fund because I promise you that one day you’re going to encounter a financial thunderstorm.
3. Pay Down High Interest Debt
If you’re still weighed down by high-interest debt in your 30’s, now is the perfect time to dig your way out. But, how do you get started? One tool that can be particularly helpful is a 0% APR or balance transfer credit card. While getting a new credit card might seem counterproductive, this type of card can actually improve your finances if you use it wisely.
Most 0% APR and balance transfer credit cards offer 0% APR for anywhere from 12 – 21 months. If you’re tired of paying a ton of money towards interest every month, signing up for a balance transfer credit card and transferring your balances to score 0% APR is a quick and easy way out. Once your balances are safely at 0% APR for at least 12 months, you can throw all your extra cash towards your debts and pay them off a lot faster.
4. Look for Good Value
You work hard for your money. Make sure you are getting the best value. This doesn’t mean you get the cheapest thing — and you don’t need to get the cheapest thing, now that you can afford items of good quality.
Make purchases based on true value (financial and emotional), rather than solely on bottom line.
5. Value Your Time
I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “Time is Money“.
Your time is probably more valuable than just about anything else. Value your time. You don’t need to constantly trade your time for money. Look for ways to maximize your time, and to earn more efficiently.
And, if you can afford it, don’t be afraid to pay others to take care of mundane tasks that you don’t want to waste your time on. Personally, I like to save my money so I try to do everything on my own, a true DIYer. That's not to say that I have never paid a cleaning lady. That money was well spent when I couldn't physically do the cleaning.
6. Invest in Reliable Transportation (Beware of New Cars)
Make sure that you have a reliable way to get to where you need to go. If you need to get to work, you need a car that can reliability get you there — or at least live in an area with reliable public transit.
Does that you mean that you need to buy a brand new car? Absolutely not!!
7. Protect Your Financial Assets
Do you have property insurance? If not, now is the time to get it. By the time you reach your 30s, you have likely accumulated more valuable things. From a nice car to a bigger house, you probably have more to lose in the event of a catastrophe. Even if you rent, you should get renter’s insurance.
Think about the things you have. What would it cost to replace them? Insurance can help you cover that cost without breaking the bank.
8. Buy Health Insurance
Now that you’re getting older, you need to think about health insurance. Even if you live a healthy lifestyle, there are reasons to have health insurance. If you have kids, you definitely need health insurance. If you can afford a high deductible plan, it can make sense (if you have relatively few health care needs and costs) to purchase one.
You can then put money into a Health Savings Account, earning you a tax deduction and allowing the money to grow tax-free as long as you use it for qualified expenses.
9. Provide for Your Family with Life Insurance
If people rely on you for their livelihood, you need life insurance. There are many rules of thumb out there, but the important thing is that your family is provided for until your youngest is an adult.
Figure out how much you need to ensure that your family is taken care of if something happens to you, and purchase a term life insurance policy that fits your needs. If you are doing amazingly and are already self-insurance you might want to look at a burial policy that will make sure your estate stays untouched and goes to your heirs.
10. Make a Will
Over 55% of the US population have not drafted a will. At the very least you need a will to make clear the disposition of your assets. And, if you have children, your will provides for their guardianship.
11. Prepare for the Unexpected with Supplemental Insurance
In addition to other types of insurance, make sure that you consider the possible need for supplemental insurance. If you are concerned that you will become disabled and unable to make a living, short-term or long-term, you need disability insurance.
Also, think ahead to dental insurance. I have always had good dental insurance. Years ago when Richie was younger he needed dental surgery and if I did not have good insurance I am not sure what I would have done.
Take stock of your needs and consider supplemental policies.
12. Use Credit Cards Wisely
Credit cards can be your friends. If you use them wisely, racking up rewards points on planned purchases and paying off the balance each month, you can derive great benefits from credit cards.
Cashback, free travel, and other perks can help you get ahead financially just by spending on things you normally buy.
13. Create a Retirement Plan
Many people in their 30s have yet to perform a retirement calculation. Now is the time for you to perform that calculation. Use one of the many online calculators to figure out what you need in retirement, and what you need to do now to meet your goals later.
Get serious about what you want to do in retirement and make a plan.
If you’re making more as a 33-year-old than you were as a 26-year-old, why haven’t you updated your retirement savings contribution?
14. Build More Human Capital
Rather than stagnate in your 30s, continue to develop new skills. Build your human capital so that you can justify promotions and raises. Keep learning and keep your skills sharp. That way you’ll always be valuable to someone, even if you lose your job.
15. Diversify Your Income
Now that you’re in your 30s and things have settled down a bit, it’s a good time to consider income diversity. Don’t rely on your day job for your entire financial well being. That’s just asking for trouble.
I’ve been able to diversify my income by starting this blog and other online ventures to compliment my revenue from my financial planning practice.
Try to cultivate income diversity with side gigs, investments, and other endeavors. That way, your entire family’s financial future isn’t at risk if you’re fired from your job.
Now that you have the means, start giving to others. Charity is an important part of well-rounded finances. Give what you can to help others. You can even volunteer your time, which is also a valuable commodity.
I volunteer anytime I can, helping out at schools, animal shelters, pantries and soup kitchens.
Look for ways to give back, since you likely receive help early on in your life.
17. Never Stop Dreaming
Just because your 30 doesn’t mean that you can’t try new things. Want to travel overseas? Do it.
Want to learn how to play guitar? What’s stopping you.
Always wanted to be your own boss? Who says you can’t?
As kids, we dream of doing awesome things. Don’t let those dreams die.