If you spent your twenties chucking your cash (or credit) at everything that came along, the next decade is the time to sort out your bank balance and become an actual grown-up.
We’ve whittled down the endless list of financial advice to 20 key points that will keep you on track through your thirties.
An Emergency Fund Is Not Optional
According to the UK Government’s Money Advice Service, you should try to have three months’ worth of outgoings (including rent/mortgage, regular bills and however else you spend your money) in an easily accessible pot should disaster strike.
Although that may sound a lot, £1000 is a great starting point to get into the saving habit – put away just £3 a day (the equivalent of that morning coffee) and in a year you’ll have over a grand.
Keep Your Wandering Eye
If you love your job, why would you look elsewhere? But according to finance writer Ashley Eneriz, you should be interviewing a few times a year regardless. “Interviewing allows you to stay on top of what’s available in your career field, as well as how much you’re worth.” It pays to talk.
According to MoneySavingExpert, your debt (not including your mortgage) shouldn’t be more than 20 per cent of your take-home pay, but this is the maximum – not a goal to hit. If you’re relying on overtime or side income to survive, make the necessary changes to ensure you’re below the 20 per cent rule by your mid-thirties.
Step Up Your Salary
After spending your twenties developing your career, your thirties should be the decade it starts to pay off. Payscale.com suggests that you should aim for a minimum 60 per cent wage growth throughout your thirties – but don’t fall into the trap of earning it just to end up frittering it away. As your income increases, make sure your savings are increasing at the same rate.
Take A Risk
Changing your career or going back to education can be a riskier move when you hit your forties and fifties, so if you’ve been considering it for a while, and you’re sure it’s the right decision, take the plunge in your thrities – whether the end goal is to boost your happiness or your income.
Invest In You
Self-confessed ‘success expert’ Brian Tracy has a mantra that should come into play in your thirties: “Investing just 3 per cent of your income back into your own development is key to success.” It’s true that learning new skills and increasing your knowledge can maximise your long-term income and boost your CV – you’ve got to speculate to accumulate.
Invest In Others
Start your thirties by paying off any debts and saving your emergency fund, then start to grow your investments. Investing in mutual funds and trackers, while taking advantage of any discounts on your company’s stock (if applicable), can help you diversify your investments without too much Wolf of Wall Street negotiating.
As with any stock market investing, there is the potential to lose money, so if you’re unsure where to start or going it alone seems daunting, get professional advice from an independent financial adviser (IFA). The Money Advice Service has some great information on what to consider when choosing an IFA.
But Invest Carefully!
By the time you hit the big three-oh, you should be a little wiser – and hopefully will have learned that anything which promises a quick buck is almost always not worth it. Instead, be patient and invest for the long haul. Whether its stocks or property, a long-term outlook reduces your risk levels and gives you a much better chance of funding the lifestyle you desire later in life.
In your twenties, paying for big purchases on a credit card seems like a no-brainer, as it helps up your credit score (providing you make the repayments on time). But in your thirties, realise that cash is still king. If you’re buying big ticket items – furniture, cars, holidays – a lot of companies would still rather take cash, so ask what type of discounts are available.
Hey Big Spender
As your income grows, learn to live within your means and stop comparing yourself to your friends. You might be earning more, but fancy houses and cars will come back to bite if you’ve over-extended yourself or you suffer a change in circumstance.
Retirement is a reality, and there’s never been a generation that will rely on their own savings more. According to GOBankingRates.com, one-in-three Americans has saved precisely zero for when they finish work.
In your twenties, other expenses may have eaten into your income, but now you’re in your thirties, aim to sacrifice at least 3 per cent of your monthly income into your company pension scheme (every UK company, no matter how big or small, should now provide these by law, and may even match your contributions), and as you leave your thirties, you should be working your way up to 15 per cent.
Owning your own home has become a pipe dream for some, but if you’re planning on working and living in your current area for several years, it should be the ultimate aim. Saving for a down payment on a mortgage should only start when your other debts are paid off, but if you’re not already on it, your thirties should be prime deposit-building time.
A conversation with your partner about money is about as enjoyable as enquiring when their last STI test was, but it’s vital if you’re to avoid issues down the road. Once you think it might be a lasting love, come to an agreement on budgeting – it’ll strengthen both your relationship and your bank account.
Will They Won’t They
It’s time to take your income seriously and create a will. It might not be the most enjoyable way to spend your time, but making sure your assets and family are secure is important, and it can help you organise your finances more effectively. And just as you update your CV regularly, remember to keep your will up to date too.
Insure Your Stuff
If throughout your twenties you were guilty of sorting your insurance searches ‘Price: Low to High’ and going for the first one on the list, chances are your insurance isn’t actually working for you. As your assets grow, make sure you have coverage that actually protects you when the unexpected occurs. It’s better to pay a slightly higher premium than have a huge excess outlay – or, even worse, a claim rejected – when disaster strikes.
Wills aren’t the only way to prepare for your departure from this mortal coil (yes, it’s a horrible thought, but it’s important). Check with your employer if they offer life insurance as a benefit, and if not, put your own policy in place to help ease the burden on your loved ones should the unexpected happen.
Learn & Earn
Increase your knowledge of financial issues, investments and offers throughout your thirties and it will pay dividends as you get older. Learning key terminology can help you jump on great opportunities when they arise, and take step back when they seem too good to be true. Better the devil you know.
You might not even have children yet, but starting to save for them now is a move that will pay you back throughout the years. Setting money aside as soon as you’re able means it’ll accumulate interest, and as financial aid is changing, it’s important to be prepared so that your kids have the best start in life.
Set An Example
Just as you’re teaching yourself, teach your children how to be financially wise. They’ll learn both good and bad habits, so get them into the pattern of being fiscally responsible and you won’t be left with a daddy debt when they leave the nest.
And Finally… Treat Yourself!
It might seem as though your thirties are the decade where you just have to put money away and resign yourself to being a savings bore, but it’s important to budget for fun too. You don’t want to enter your forties exhausted and drained, so ensure you’ve got room to play.