In your 20s, it’s normal to explore, grow, and fail as you’re building a life and career. And after a decade of living on your own, it’s possible you’ve made your share of money mistakes. Your 30s are the perfect time to get back on track—if you can avoid these financial pitfalls.
1. Lifestyle inflation
As you start earning more money, it may be tempting to upgrade your apartment, car, or wardrobe. The problem is, lifestyle inflation often happens over time. Before you know it, you may be spending a lot more money than you realize—without adding to your family’s happiness.
One of the best ways to keep your spending in check is through savings automation. By setting up automatic recurring deposits, you may avoid spending your hard-earned dollars before you’re able to save for other priorities.
2. Not saving enough for retirement
In your 30s, you may have competing financial priorities. Buying a home, paying off remaining student loan debt, getting married, or having children are big milestones, with the price tag to match. To meet your family’s short-term needs, you may decide to stop saving for retirement, which could be a mistake.
The power of compounding, or when your interest earns interest, makes it possible to invest and grow your money over time. Even if your budget is tight, try to take advantage of your company’s 401(k) match—it’s free money!
If you prefer to save more, you may need to shift some of your short-term priorities to get there – 15% of your income, including employer contributions, is a good rule of thumb. The exact percentage will depend on your unique situation.
Need help creating a budget? Quicken is a budgeting software that allows you to connect your accounts and automatically categorize spending. Create a personalized budget and track and manage your spending.
3. Not enough insurance
If you’re like most people, insurance is likely one of your least favorite things to deal with. Insurance is expensive, confusing, and doesn’t always cover what you expect—but that’s no excuse to ignore it.
Health insurance should be a top priority for your family. You should also protect your income with short and long-term disability insurance policies. If your spouse or children rely on you, you may also consider buying a term life insurance policy. Fabric is an app designed for young families to help them organize their finances in one single place. You can find affordable term life insurance, create a will, and organize financial information.
While there is nothing fun about paying insurance premiums, you will be grateful for the coverage should your family ever need it.
4. No plan for your student loans
If you’re grappling with student loans in your 30s, you’re not alone. Approximately 22% of adults ages 30 to 44 are still paying off their student loans, according to Pew Research. If you haven’t done it already, your 30s are the perfect time to craft a payoff plan.
Make a game plan for your student loans. If you aren’t on track for student loan forgiveness, you may want to make extra payments and pay more the minimum payment. Prioritize the debt you get rid of first by which has the highest interest rate. Before you pay extra on your student loans, factor in other prioritize such as other debt with higher interest, building an emergency fund, and saving for retirement.
The ChangEd app can help you pay down debt faster. Your purchases are rounded up and that remaining amount goes towards your debt. If you’re lucky enough to have a spouse, parent, or grandparent that wants to help you pay your debt, they could even register, too.
If you have high-interest private student loans, you might want to consider refinancing your student loans for lower interest rates. Keep in mind refinancing federal student loans means a loss in many benefits – including potential loan forgiveness, income-based repayments and options to pause payments during deferment. For high-interest private loans, though, consider the pros and cons. If you decide it’s right for you, Credible is a great tool for comparing multiple lenders at once.
Splash Financial is a student loan refinance marketplace that matches you with a lender with a low interest rate.
5. Not starting to save for college
If you are starting a family, it’s always a good idea to make a game plan for how you want to save for your child’s education. A 529 college savings plan offers tax-free earnings and tax-free withdrawals when the funds are used for qualifying education expenses.
Be proactive with money in your 30s
If you spent most of your 20s winging it, take the opportunity to be proactive with money in your 30s. It will be easier to meet your family’s short-term goals, and you’ll be more financially stable for years to come.
At Savingforcollege.com, our goal is to help you make smart decisions about saving and paying for education. Some of the products featured in this article are from our partners, but this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.