Turning 30 is a big milestone, and since you’re in the third decade of your life, it’s time to get serious about money.
Like so many young adults, maybe you played around in your late teens and early 20s and made more bad money decisions than you can count. Some young people max out their credit cards or neglect their savings accounts. Don’t feel bad, we all make mistakes.
Even if they don’t say it, many young adults feel they have the rest of their lives to worry about being responsible with money.
Perhaps you felt the same.
Just know that if you wait too long to get serious about money, you might spend the next 20 years playing catch-up or dealing with the repercussions of terrible choices.
You don’t have to be a personal finance expert to learn the best ways to manage your money, and your finances might never be perfect. Still, there are money lessons you should learn before age 30.
1. Money Doesn’t Bring Happiness
If you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck and constantly stressed about money, you might think a bank full of cash is the cure to sadness. Sure, money can alleviate a lot of life’s stressors, but it doesn’t bring true happiness.
It can buy a nice house, an expensive car and afford a lifestyle you may dream about. But no matter how much cash you have in the bank, it doesn’t protect against sickness, death, and it doesn’t guarantee happy relationships.
If you think money is the secret to happiness, you’re sadly mistaken and you could be depriving yourself of enjoyment.
2. Don’t Get Into Debt
We might need loans to buy a house or car, but there’s never a reason to abuse credit cards. By 30, we should know better.
Get into a habit of paying cash. Yes, you’ll have to sacrifice and save up for things, such as vacations, clothes and electronics.
And sometimes people get into debt when they get a title loan with no job. But at the same time, you’ll have less debt hanging over your head and fewer financial stresses.
3. Pay Yourself First
During your teens and early 20s, saving money might have been the last thing on your mind. If you had disposable income, it was probably spent on clothes, electronics, entertainment and vacations. It’s only smart to reign in spending before 30.
The spending and saving habits you develop at an early age can have either a good or a bad impact on your financial future. If you’re spending every penny, this means you’re not building an emergency cushion or planning for retirement.
It’s much easier to save when you’re young and have fewer responsibilities. If you haven’t already, start paying yourself first.
So, before you give your money to the cable guy, a credit card company or your landlord, make sure you’re saving 10% of your earnings — split between your retirement account and your emergency savings account.
4. Get Life Insurance
There’s no rule that says you have to wait until you’re married or have children to buy a life insurance policy. In fact, the earlier you buy life insurance, the better.
Term policies range from one year to 30 years, or you can purchase a permanent life insurance policy at a young age at an affordable premium. Life insurance rates increase as we become older, since we’re likely to deal with more health problems. The death benefit can cover your funeral, burial, pay off your debts, plus provide your family with financial support.
The appropriate amount for a life insurance policy varies depending on whether you have dependents and outstanding debts. Speak with a life insurance agent for advice.
5. The Joneses are Flat Broke
Financial peer pressure doesn’t go away as you become older. Many people in their 30s and 40s feel pressure to keep up with friends, co-workers and neighbors.
But there’s one important truth everyone should realize by 30 – the Joneses (or anyone you’re trying to keep up with) are likely broke.
Someone can have a nice house, a fancy car and take amazing vacations, but this doesn’t mean these people are paying cash or have money.
There’s a strong possibility they’re financing their lifestyle and walking around with zero savings and a bunch of credit card debt.
You might have less materially, but if you have a cash cushion and no debt, you might be richer than those you envy.
6. Never Cosign a Loan
A friend may ask you to cosign a loan, and you might be tempted to help this person get ahead. Just know that you’re helping at the expense of your own credit.
Cosigners share responsibility for a debt. If your friend defaults, you’ll have to repay the loan — period. And since this account also appears on your credit report, late or missed payments can hurt your credit score.