If you got down and dirty with your finances in your 20’s, you are probably in an entirely different spot than other 30 year olds who are now facing The Great Depression. That point when club hopping, hot shoes and all night benders don’t cut it anymore and they wonder exactly where the heck all that money went. So as you peruse this list, some of you may be miles ahead… and some of you should shake it off, go back to my list for people in their 20’s, and start there, because it’s way worse to just give up than to take a step back and get something right if you have to.
Tips for kicking (or continuing to kick) butt with your finances:
1.) Keep saving for retirement.
A good benchmark is to have 1 X your yearly salary saved. If you’re behind on this, get started. You’ve all probably heard ad nauseum about the awesomeness that is compound interest. Personally, those math equations always make me depressed, even though I’m still young enough to be pretty close to all the good numbers. All I can think is “if I’d only started when I was 23” or when I got my first job or whatever. You can’t turn back the clock. Just know compound interest is indeed magic for all ages and you should be saving for retirement in accounts that do that.
2.) Pay off all non-mortgage debt.
In an ideal world, you got a handle on all this in your 20’s. But life’s not always ideal and if you went on to graduate school with no financial assistance (*cough, cough, me**), you may be about to pay off thousands upon thousands of dollars. So get on it. It’s not going to pay itself. In a pretty good world, you’ve got credit cards and private student loans all paid off and just a few straggling, lower interest, tax deductible interest, loans left. In a getting by world, you’ve at least made a dent in the debts of your 20’s and not added to them. In the seventh circle of hell, you’ve made a budget and stopped adding more debt. You’ve got a long way to go, but you can do it!
3.) Create a will.
Yeah, it’s a little morbid, but it’s never going to get any less morbid. And at least in your 30’s, the reading of that will is so far off it’ll seem like a bizarre joke. If you have kids, that should bump this even higher on your priorities list, along with appointing a guardian for them if something happens to you. Honestly, not a bad time to look into prepaying for your funeral expenses either, especially if you’ve already sorted out who you want to be buried next to that whole marriage business (personally, I really want to be a tree – planted at the lake around the corner from my house).
4.) Start saving for your kid’s college funds.
If you have kids, the time to start saving for college is now. Actually, it’s probably the second the plus sign pops up on the pregnancy test. College is ridiculous, and yet almost everyone goes anyway. So the odds of it getting less ridiculous are unlikely. Even a little bit helps, so start looking at where you can save money from and start putting it away to help them out (hint, hint – in one of those awesome compound interest accounts like a 529 Plan).
5.) Speaking of kids, get life insurance.
If you have children, you need life insurance. There isn’t really any wiggle room on this. If you’re the breadwinner for the family, you need a lot of insurance, and if you’re a stay at home mom, you still need insurance, cause your kids will need daycare so your husband can go to work to make money to feed them.
6.) Increase your emergency fund.
If you made it to the 3-6 month mark in your 20’s, now’s the time to increase it to 9-12 months. You should also reevaluate to make sure you have enough in there to cover 3-6 months. If you filled it up in your early 20’s, pre-children and mortgage, you may need to add some more cash to realistically cover you for 3-6 months.
7.) If you haven’t already, start saving up for a down payment on a house.
Odds are good you’ll want one. Even if you don’t really want to live in one spot, it’s a great investment as well, so socking away some cash for a down payment could be money well spent.
8.) Set aside some time to read up on financial planning.
Keep educating yourself about personal financial planning. It seems overwhelming at first, but the more you study, the more it begins to gel together. Pick up investment books for free at your local library and learn a little more about how to grow your nest egg, save for your kid’s college fees or take a dream vacation (or heck, any old vacation).
Speaking of Number 8, you can enter to win a copy of Dave Chilton’s The Wealthy Barber – an awesome introduction to finance book – here at Rafflecopter. Contest ends on 8/30/13.