Your thirties… it’s a time when the stresses of life become real. You’re probably dealing with a new family, balancing a career, while memories of your partying days are fading fast.
It’s unavoidable that certain financial responsibilities come with this next chapter in your life, and we’ve highlighted ten of the most important.
1. Understand the retirement vehicles
While many twenty-somethings may have overlooked socking money away for retirement (as they’ll never get that old!), it’s extremely important to start thinking of your golden years in your thirties. Most Americans aren’t saving enough for retirement, and starting early is the surefire way to grow your nest egg.
Knowing the different retirements accounts (e.g., traditional IRA, Roth IRA, 401(k), etc.) at your disposal will help to maximize how you save for your future.
2. Forget spontaneous spending
Remember the time you booked a flight to Mexico on a whim? Most likely, you didn’t save for the trip and it cost you a pretty penny.
It’s time to hunker down and create savings goals (see number three below), instead of putting everything on your credit card and worrying about paying it off later.
3. Maximize the savings
Growing up with a passbook savings account as a child was a great way to start learning to save at a young age. As a 20-something, the savings account did not get much attention because the active lifestyle left little to be saved in the first place. But now, as the savings start to accumulate, you’ll see that the big bank isn’t paying much interest on your deposits.
It’s time to look at online savings accounts, certificates of deposit (CDs) and other deposits accounts to grow your savings. Don’t forget strategies such as CD ladders to put these deposit vehicles to greater use.
4. Realize debt is a big deal
By this time, if you haven’t paid off your college loans, it’s time to increase your payments. Paying just enough to cover the interest is not an option anymore, as you have many other financial responsibilities to think about.
Paying more than the minimum payment is a requirement to eliminating credit card debt. For larger loans such as student loans, car loans and mortgages, you’ll be surprised how much an extra payment per year can reduce the lifetime cost of the loans.
5. Identify the money leaks
You’ve heard it before from financial experts on TV and online: create a budget! There’s a reason why this advice is so strongly advocated — tracking where you are spending your money is extremely important, as it can pinpoint spending problems.
Cutting back on certain expenses, like eating out or clothes shopping, can help curve spending. The goal is to find the problem areas and fix it, so you can save more. With personal financial management tools, you don’t have to do much work to keep a close eye on your spending habits.
6. Investment-portfolio rebalancing
If you were reluctant to open an investment account in your twenties, now is the time to start one. Time is the one important factor in building a nest egg, so the earlier you start, the better.
Over time, your investments will rise and fall in value, causing a change in the risk of your overall portfolio. If stocks were doing well recently, you’ll find that stocks will make up a larger percentage of your portfolio. You’ll want to rebalance that risk by selling some stocks and buying more bonds.
Take a look at your portfolio every quarter or every six months to see if you need to rebalance. You can eliminate this financial task by investing in target-date (or life cycle) funds, which automatically rebalances themselves.
7. Minimize unnecessary fees
Fees on financial accounts can add up over the long term, and if you’re in your thirties, paying for unnecessary fees should be a thing of the past. Overdraft fees, late fees, brokerage fees, mutual fund fees and ATM fees are just some of the costs that can be avoided by creating account alerts, looking for account alternatives and automating payments.
Review each fee that you incur and research the available options to mitigate or eliminate that fee.
8. Create an emergency fund
As life gets more hectic, it also gets more expensive. Not saving for an emergency fund can really hurt you financially. Even if you only put aside $100 a month, be sure you’re making this a priority.
Many Americans are left to deal with a mountain of debt after being hit with an unforeseen accident, emergency or tragedy.
9. Think about ways you can make more money
Whether it’s supplementing your income, or being savvy enough to ask for a raise — it’s time to think about how you can increase your take-home pay.
When it comes to a choice between cutting out the things you love (your daily cup of coffee, those expensive haircuts), most people would probably rather increase their income.
10. Learn how to negotiate
Whether it’s negotiating lower closing costs for your first home, a higher salary or your cable TV subscription, brush up on this important skill.
Most people accept the fact that they must pay a certain price for items, when in fact you can just about negotiate anything. Someone responding with a strong “no” is probably the worst that can happen.
Simon Zhen is a research analyst for MyBankTracker. He is an expert on consumer banking products, bank innovations, and financial technology.
Simon has contributed and/or been quoted in major publications and outlets including Consumer Reports, American Banker, Yahoo Finance, U.S. News – World Report, The Huffington Post, Business Insider, Lifehacker, and AOL.com.