Here’s a list of things you should do before turning 30.
1. Have a good relationship with money
See money for what it is, legal tender to buy goods and services. It won’t solve all your problems, but it’s good to have. It’s not something to work yourself to death for or to obsesses over. Make enough to take care of yourself and your family, but remember there’s more to life than making money.
2. Stop depending on your family for money
Part of being an adult is providing for yourself financially. It’s become common for folks in their 20s to ask their parents for money or even live with them. I think most of that can be explained by student loan debt. Be that as it may, it’s time to stop asking Mom and Dad for cash.
3. Create a budget and track your spending
A budget is a plan for your money. You should know how much money is coming in, how much is going out, and what exactly you’re spending it on. If you need help creating a budget, read our 7 Steps for Creating Your Budget article.
4. Eliminate your shopaholic tendencies
Ever walk past a pair of shoes you just had to have immediately? Yeah, it’s time to cut down on that type of behavior. I’m not saying you can’t spend a little money. I’m saying that if you’re not already very intentional with your purchases, you need to be by age 30. Stop buying things on impulse. Stop buying things you know you’ll never use. Don’t be a shopaholic.
5. Pay off your student loans
If you can manage it, say goodbye to the student loans before turning 30. Remember that the faster you pay them off, the more money you save.
6. Pay off your credit cards
Say goodbye to credit card debt. There’s no reason to be buried under consumer debt. By age 30, you should’ve figured out how to use credit cards. And no, it’s not to splurge and buy everything you see online. Use your credit cards wisely. Don’t buy more than you can afford. And always pay off the full amount at the end of the month before you get hit with interest.
7. Stop paying ATM fees
Why pay ATM fees when you can just get cash back at the grocery store? Seriously, it’s a no-brainer. If you’d like to get more than $60 cash, you may need to go through the line a few times. Side note, avoid walking around with large sums of money when you can. I don’t know about you, but the idea of losing $60 would just break my little heart.
8. Stop paying overdraft fees
Pay attention to your account balances and watch your spending. Not much to say here, other than know where you stand. If you find yourself paying a bunch of overdraft fees, considering getting a bank account with overdraft protection. Or…stick with me here…take care of the actual problem, which is not knowing how much money you have in the bank.
9. Establish excellent credit
At a high-level, your credit score comes down to a few different factors including payment history, amount owed, and what percent of your available credit you’re using. So for starters, pay your bills on time, don’t use more than 30% of your available credit, and don’t open up an excessive number of accounts.
10. Have $20,000 saved for retirement
It can be in a 401k or in a savings account. Doesn’t matter. You just need to have it and promise never to touch it before retirement. Pinky-promise!
11. Have an emergency fund that’ll last you for 6 months
One of the first things my wife and I did when we started taking our finances seriously was to save up for a rainy day. You should do the same. It’ll reduce a lot of stress around financial emergencies. It’s always nice to be prepared.
12. Have an investment portfolio
Nothing says I’m a grown-up like having stocks and bonds. My only tip here is to diversify your investments. What should you invest in, you ask? Well, that’s up to you.
13. Have insurance
If you have a car, you’re legally obligated to have car insurance. But what about everything else? If you’re married or have children, you should have life insurance. Care about your teeth? Have dental insurance. Care about your overall health? Have medical insurance. Depending on where you work, dental and medical insurance may be provided by your employer.
14. Maximize on employee matching for 401k
Matching is your employer’s way of helping you save for retirement, so don’t miss out on it. Matching programs are unique to each company, so figure out what it is for your particular situation.
15. Begin to use coupons at the grocery store
I’m not an extreme couponer (…I wish), but I’m no stranger to using coupons. Some grocery stores have loyalty programs that help you save even more money. Read our article on how you can cut your grocery budget in half. My wife wrote it and she’s really smart! 🙂
16. Spend money on things that will save you money in the long run
Being cheap is not wanting to spend money, being frugal is spending your money wisely. Ever hear the saying, “you get what you pay for.”? Well, there’s some truth to that. You don’t want to drive a junker of a car, cut corners on taking care of your health, or anything like that. Read Why Penny-Pinching Can Cost You Thousands for a list of examples of where it pays to pay a little more.
17. Check your credit report at least annually
The government gives you one free credit report a year, so take advantage of it. If you need to check your credit report more regularly, Mint also calculates your credit score.
18. Check your credit card statement regularly
This is your last line of defense against fraud. If you see any suspicious charges on your statement, contact your bank. Fraud happens and it can happen to you. Protect yourself and your finances.
19. Pay your bills on time
Don’t get hit with late fees or take a hit to your credit score. If you always forget to pay your pills, set up autopay on your accounts. If you’re having trouble paying your bills, fix the situation by cutting your expenses or increasing your income.
20. Learn how to do your taxes
It’s been said, “nothing is certain in life but death and taxes”. We’ve covered the first part by telling you to get life insurance. Now’s time to handle that second piece, taxes. By age 30, you should be able to file your taxes and understand terms like standard deduction.
21. Learn to save up for big purchases
Kanye West once rapped, “I got a problem with spending before I get it”. In this situation, don’t listen to Kanye. Don’t spend money you don’t have. If there’s something you want, but can’t afford, save up for it. An example would be saving for a down-payment on a home. Learn to have some patience.
22. Set your career goals
Where do you see yourself in 5, 10, 20 years? You’re probably thinking, “I’m not sure what I’ll be doing in 5, 10, or 20 days. How am I supposed to know that?”. No worries. This is a big question, so take some time and really think about it. Maybe you want to become a partner at an accounting firm, CEO of a tech company, or head surgeon at a hospital. Have a goal.
23. Start a side business
Find something fun to do to make money on the side. It never hurts to have another source of income.
24. Set financial goals
How much money do you want to retire on? $2 million? $4 million? That’s up to you. How much money do you want to earn in a year? $100,000? $1,000,000? Again, this is up to you. The important thing is to hold this goal in your mind and make sure your actions align with it. Dream big dreams and take action.
25. Understand the lifestyle you’d like to have and how much money you need to live that way
Do you want to be an entrepreneur and digital nomad? What about a high-power executive living in a mansion? How about a working professional that makes a good amount of money, works 40 hours a week, and enjoys spending time with their family? Whatever you want to do, do it. It’s your life. Do what will make you happy.
26. Stop trying to keep up with the Joneses
You don’t have to prove anything to anyone. Drive the car you want to drive, wear the clothes you want to wear, and live where you choose. There’s nothing wrong with having nice things, but don’t buy things just to keep up appearances. That’s a no-no.
27. Stop comparing your wealth with other
There’s nothing to gain from doing this. Unless you’re at the top of the Forbes list, there’s always someone with more money than you. There are also tons of people without a roof over their head, so you should spend more time being thankful for what you do have.
28. Stop comparing your career to others
Don’t get jealous of your coworker’s promotion. Just keep doing what you need to do to make the next advancement in your career. There are tons of people who would love to be in your position. Remember that!
29. Learn to live within your means
Even if you’re not trying to keep up with the Joneses, don’t live a lifestyle you can’t afford. Don’t buy the biggest house on the block or the fanciest car in the neighborhood if you can’t afford them.
30. Learn to split the bills with your partner
If you’re married by 30, please learn to share financial responsibilities with your spouse. This is something that’s better talked about before getting married, but if you haven’t, now is a good time.
Let’s Discuss: What do you think is missing from this list?