So the carefree years of being in one’s 20s are over, and life is becoming more settled. With increasing income, financial responsibilities also increase, and wise decisions and actions made now can set a course for a solid financial future.
Now that you’re in your 30s, it’s time to take a longer-term view at finances and lifestyle. You’re ready to enjoy the fruits of your labor, but future needs should start taking a high priority. Here are seven money mistakes you should stop making in your 30s.
1. Using savings unwisely
If you have a savings account in addition to a retirement account, then you’re moving in the right direction. However, if the purpose of your savings account is unclear, it’s time to define it.
Is it to be used an emergency fund, or a vacation account, or a holiday fund, or all of the above?
If you spend half of your savings on a vacation, will there be enough left over for an emergency? It may be time to consider separate accounts for different purposes, or define certain portions of it to be used solely for specific expenses.
2. Budgeting for the short term
Enough of living like there is no tomorrow! We've figured out by now that tomorrows do come, along with the bills from yesterdays.
Take a look at long-term expenses and figure out the areas that will need your attention in three, five, and 10 or more years down the road.
If you own a home, how soon will it need a new roof? A kitchen renovation? College for kids?
Don’t let these expenses become surprises, and don’t raid other emergency accounts if you can avoid it. Start planning and saving in your 30s for the bigger expenses to come.
3. Not assessing your housing situation
Being in your 30s means it is also a good time to assess if your current housing suits your needs over the long term.
If you haven’t purchased a home, but are thinking about it, be honest with yourself about what you will really need, and if owning a home suits your lifestyle.
Homeownership doesn’t provide an ideal lifestyle for everyone, but for many, it’s a great choice.
When budgeting for mortgage payments, don’t forget about all the added costs, like insurance, repairs, maintenance and associated equipment, and the amount of time required to fulfill those responsibilities.
If you’re making more and saving more since you took out your mortgage. Your credit score may be higher, so you might be able to get better terms, or even afford to pay off the loan in a shorter period of time.
Interest rates are still low, so it makes sense to revisit your loan terms to see if it’s time for a refinance, or at minimum, if it’s time to commit to making higher payments to pay it off early.
If you’re not keen on saving $5,000 to $10,000 or more for a new roof and you’re getting tired of upkeep costs, or you’d like more mobility around the country, maybe renting is more your style.
Or maybe you’re realizing you went too big or too small with the first house. Making housing changes are easier to do on your 30s rather than later.
4. Not tracking your retirement account
You've got a 401(K) or other retirement plan set up, and you’re contributing regularly.
However, as you move through your 30s, it’s important to review its progress to make sure it is growing at a good pace. Sit down with an advisor to see if your money is invested into the right kinds of funds and risk level appropriate for your goals and age.
5. Not putting more money into retirement
There are more reasons than one to revisit your retirement plans. When you first set up your retirement account, you may have been scraping by financially, living week to week.
And in case you haven’t noticed, many living costs have gone up, and that trend may continue through your retirement.
As the years pass and your income increases, it’s important to also increase the amount you put in with each pay check to be better prepared.
6. Not having enough insurance
Good insurance can be as important as a good savings or retirement plan. Do you have adequate (or better) life insurance?
Do you have enough insurance to cover your home or belongings? Can you handle a higher deductible at your income level to save on payments?
Shop insurance agents and talk about products like umbrella policies to make sure you’ll stay afloat in the case of a disaster.
7. Not having a will
It’s easy to continue to feel invincible when we’re in our 30s, but with hazards looming everywhere, it doesn't make sense to not have a will prepared, along with a living will.
It’s also important to start having end-of-life discussions with family members, such as estate issues and how you want to be buried, or if you prefer cremation.
You may find that some of your loved ones won’t be on the same page with your preferences, so early discussion is important to work out the differences. While it may not be pleasant to consider, or may seem too far off to be important, accidents happen and it’s important to plan.