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20 Tips For People in Their 30s To Better Manage Their Money

20 Tips For People in Their 30s To Better Manage Their Money

Turning thirty, the big 3-0, is probably the most crucial financial crossroad in the lives of many people today. Whether you are embarking on a new career path, planning on buying a house, or preparing for the responsibility of children, how you handle this monetary pivot in your life can very well lay out the blueprint for what the rest of your finances will look like.

However, if you are willing to keep an open mind to the possibilities of new ways of thinking, there are some practical ideas that may be all the inspiration needed to take charge of your own life and financial security.

These 20 tips will give you a different perspective on managing money, well into your 30s and beyond.

1. Be patient and delay pleasure

As you approach your 30s, it is safe to assume that you have probably spent the better part of your 20s in college, surviving on ramen noodles and fast food. Your impulse upon entering your 30s will be to jump into the nice house, the cool car and begin living the American dream. But be careful not to accumulate more liabilities than you have income or assets to pay for.

2. Your house is not an asset

Most people have been conditioned to the belief that buying a house and owning real estate is the secret to financial success. This is really only half the truth. If your home is taking money out of your pocket, (i.e. in the form of a mortgage), instead of putting money in your pocket, (i.e. in the form of rentals or home businesses), it is a liability, not an asset. As you turn 30, be sure to understand the difference between assets and liabilities before making large purchases.

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3. Cut back on your vices

Leaving your college years behind, you might have accumulated more vices than you care to admit – alcohol, cigarettes, and undoubtedly fast food, just to touch on a few. To be honest, I have had more than my fair share of those 3 am greasy Taco Bell runs after a night out with friends. As memorable as these times were, a realization dawns as you enter a new decade. Not only are those nights hard on your health, they are also hard on your wallet.

Also, do not forget that as you go from a fun college atmosphere to a stressful work environment, what started out as a fun way to pass the time can become a detrimental and financially draining addiction or coping mechanism.

4. Learn to cook

You don’t have to be a gourmet chef by any means, but If you are serious about managing money, you must at least know how to prepare some basic staples and simple meals that will cut back on how often you have to eat out. It can also be very helpful to plan out your meals for the week ahead of time. This will help create your grocery budget and eliminate random spending on unnecessary food.

5. Don’t be content simply being an employee

In this day and age of rising inflation and stagnant wages, you will probably find it very difficult to make enough money to save and invest after paying for basic survival essentials like food, clothing and shelter. This hardship is a consequence of generations of conditioning children to aspire to simply become employees. Whole generations are told to get a secure job with good benefits and work hard. If you find yourself feeling smarter than your job title, you probably are. As you turn 30, start thinking of ways to accumulate the knowledge that inspires you to create something of societal value.

6. Write out a budget

This might seem like an obvious duh, but how many people do you know who have actually taken the time to write a financial plan, let alone learn how to follow one? Unless you write out a detailed budget, you are playing chicken with your financial future.

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7. Save first, pay bills later

Set a savings goal and adjust your lifestyle to meet it. Do not set your saving goal to meet your lifestyle, you will always be broke. Ideally, you should be saving about 25 – 30 % of your income after taxes. The logic in society today is to pay bills and then save. This way of thinking is one of misplaced priorities and an attachment to stuff. If you want to get ahead financially and create true wealth, you must learn to pay yourself first.

8. Go through your debit/credit card statements

Don’t just throw away those monthly statements from the bank, actually go through them. Think of it as a statement that reflects your spending habits or behavior. If you are running out of money before the month’s end, your statement will very well show those loose purchases that add up to cost you tons of money. Go through with a highlighter so you can color code your expenses. This system will help you build your budget.

9. Your time is your most valuable form of money

Time is the one resource we all admit to not have enough of, yet it is the most wasted of all resources.

If you spend 10 – 12 hours of your day at a job you don’t particularly enjoy, do you really believe you are managing your time well? If time is money, then you should learn to invest it in things that add value and joy to your life.

10. Ditch cable

With so many tools available for entertainment – i.e. Internet, YouTube, Netflix, Redbox etc. – it makes no sense to pay $150 – $200 per month to watch reruns. You are probably never home anyway and when you are, there are more effective and creative ways to pass time. Cutting your cable bill can be a good way to, over time, invest $2,000 in your future.

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11. Consider the cost of having kids

Having a child is a joyous occasion. However, as you consider growing your family in your 30s, be sure to understand the cost that having a baby can add to your finances. Not to say that if you are blessed with the unexpected gift of a child you won’t be able to lead a happy and financially secure life, but it will unarguably create a few more challenges for you to overcome. The care of another’s life is a huge responsibility and should not be undertaken lightly. So in an age where birth control options are innumerable, take the responsible route and plan for the right time to add to your family.

12. Do not Cosign a loan or lend money

“The borrower is always slave to the lender.” As you get older, you may begin to have family members and friends look to you for financial assistance in getting loans. But try to remember that the bank requires a cosigner for a reason. If the borrower misses a payment, there is a good chance they will come after you. As such, be very hesitant to cosign on any loan. Not only are you risking losing your money, but you are also risking the loss of a great relationship.

13. Be careful who your teachers are and question everything

There will be lots of people, especially family and friends, wanting to give you massive amounts of financial advice as you turn 30. Remember that when it comes to money, everyone has an opinion. Most people are enthusiastically ignorant. You must take every piece of information with a grain of salt. People who may seem to be doing well financially may really be broke and living off debt. Seek not just knowledge, but understanding. Question everything and be careful not to live a different variation of somebody else’s life.

14. Your success is determined by what you do in your down time

Most wealthy people will tell you that you are only as successful as what you do during down time at your job. Marshall Mathers’s rapper counterpart “Eminem” seized every opportunity to battle in freestyle raps, even on lunch breaks at work. Those precious moments of time used turned out to be worth millions of dollars.

Remember as you approach 30 that you will be extremely busy, overwhelmed with work and bills. How you manage your down time is a good reflection on how you will probably manage money.

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15. Avoid mind numbing activities

Social media and games like Candy Crush help occupy boredom. But remember that humans are most creative when bored. Just like down time, how you treat this boredom may tell how much success you have. You are more likely to think of something productive to do if you don’t numb and distract your mind with social media and games.

16. Shop by dollar amount, not by unit price or deals

In a world of coupons, mega savers and deals, do not loose money chasing a bargain. If walk into a store with a budget of $15 for a variety of groceries and see one item on sale at 10 for $10, it may not be a deal to you to get the item as your budget does not support the purchase. You simply can’t afford the deal. Going over your planed spending amount to secure a bargain will ensure that you spend the rest of your life doing just that. Again, be patient.

17. Have an emergency fund

Financial adviser Dave Ramsey has a principle that I love and practice and it is called a G.O.K. (God only knows) fund. You have probably gone through your 20s having your financial mishaps covered by Mom and Dad. However thing are about to get real in your 30s. As Mom and Dad begin to withdraw their help, you must learn to create your own safety net, lest Visa and MasterCard catch your slack.

18. Rethink higher education

As you approach your 30s, you are probably thinking of ways to increase your income. The general advice from parents and elders is to go back to school. However, there are many other ways to do this without the debt of a Masters or MBA. The train of thought that more education equals higher pay is an old way of thinking that doesn’t really apply to this generation. While a specialized degree may be relevant in some cases, you are best served to really count the cost of your education and weigh its potential return.

19. Reaize that your savings plan and 401K may not be enough for retirement

Saving money and planning for retirement are good habits to have. However they may not be enough to sustain you and your family in the future.
So far, you have learned a few new tools to aid your financial literacy. Start looking for ways to keep income coming into your pocket even well after retirement. In your 30s, you are able to take a few well informed, calculated risks.

20. Be familiar with self-reliance and D.I.Y.

Self-reliance and learning to create or do things on your own is a big part to saving money. Fortunately, we live in an age of infinite access to information. For example, vinegar and water make a cheaper replacement for Windex. These types of tips for everyday living can be found on YouTube or Google and can really help save money.

These tips aren’t a guideline to strictly follow, by any means. But they are definitely some food for thought as you enter your 30s and seek ways to really buckle down on financial stability.

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

Finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. And that’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

In this article, we will explore ways on how to set financial goals and then actually meet them with ease.

5 Steps to Set Financial Goals

Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task but if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps:

1. Be Clear About the Objectives

Any goal (let alone financial) without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream. And this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it is for. It could be anything like kid’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car etc.

Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives, however small they may be, that you foresee in the future and put a value to it.

2. Keep Them Realistic

It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going out of the line will definitely hurt your chances of achieving them.

It’s important that you keep your goals realistic in nature for it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

3. Account for Inflation

Ronald Reagan once said – “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman”. And this quote sums up the best what inflation could do your financial goals.

Therefore account for inflation whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far away in the future.

For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years hence, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is mere 3%. So always account for inflation.

4. Short Term vs Long Term

Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach towards achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It is important to bifurcate goals in short term and long term.

As a rule of thumb, any financial goal, which is due in next 3 years should be termed as short term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short term vs long term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

More on this later when we talk about how to achieve financial goals.

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5. To Each to His Own

The journey of setting financial goals is an individualistic affair i.e. your goals are your own goals and are determined by your want to achieve them. A lot of times we get on the bandwagon of goal setting only to realize later on that it was not meant for us.

It is important that your goals are actually your goals and not inspired by someone else. Take a hard look at this step at all the goals you’ve set for after this step, you will be on the way to achieve them.

By now, you would be ready with your financial goals, now it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

11 Ways to Achieve Your Financial Goals

Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a 2 step process –

  • Ensuring healthy savings
  • Making smart investments

You will need to save enough; and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals. So let’s get down to ensuring healthy savings.

Ensuring Healthy Savings

Self realization is the best form of realisation and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

1. Track Expenses

The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your monthly expenses. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you would be surprised to see how small expenses add up to a sizeable amount.

Also categorize those expenses into different bucket so that you know which bucket is eating the most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pump up your savings rate.

2. Pay Yourself First

Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classical mistake which almost everyone of us do. We pay ourselves last!

Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and then manage all the expenses from the rest.

The best way to actually implement is to put the savings on automatic mode i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (for example – mutual funds, retirement corpus etc) every month.

Taking the automatic route will make us lose control of our money and hence will compel us to manage in what’s left with us thereby increasing the savings rate.

3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick with It

Budgeting is the best to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be made.

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Nowadays, several money management apps and wallets can help you do this automatically. It’s easy and who knows, you may just end up doing what people fail to do.

At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

4. Rise Again Even If You Fall

Let’s be realistic. It’s not like the world will come to an end if you made one mistake. This isn’t called leniency but discipline.

If you fail to meet your budget for a month, don’t give up the entire effort just like that. Instead, start again.

Remember that flexible plans are the most realistic plans. So go forward and try to follow your financial goals as planned but if for some reason, the plan gets out of hand for you, do not give up on it just yet. This has a lot to do with your psychology rather than any material commitment.

All you have to do is to stay on the road and vow to stay on it, no matter how much you fall down.

5. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

Make Savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counter intuitive to many but there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Usually weekends are expensive. Make it a habit and you would in turn be saving a great deal.

If you are travelling buff, try to travel during off season. Your outlay will be much less.

If you go out for shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

So the key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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6. Talk About It

Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission. And it would be rather easy to lose the grip over your discipline.

Therefore in order to stay the course, it is advisable that you keep yourself surrounded with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

7. Maintain a Journal

For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

So if you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

Use this journal to write down all essential points such as your short term, mid term and long term goals, your current sources of income, your regular expenses which you are aware of and any committed expenses which are of recurring nature.

When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energised to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot more easier for you to follow you and track your progress.

At this point, you should be ready with your financial goals and would be doing brilliantly with savings; now it’s time to talk about the big daddy – Investments.

Making Smart Investments

Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However savings when invested wisely can do wonders and we are at that stage where we will talk about making smart investments.

8. Consult a Financial Advisor

Investments doesn’t come naturally to most of us therefore rather than dabbling with it ourselves, it is wise to consult a financial advisor.

Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

9. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about them.

Just like “no one is born a criminal”, no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference.

Do you remember we talked about bifurcating financial goals in short term and long term?

It is here where that classification will help.

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So as a general rule, for all your short term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less as compared to equity instruments.

10. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

Einstein once remarked about compounding,

Compound Interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.

So make friends with this wonder kid. And sooner you become friends with it, quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

Start investing early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

11. Measure, Measure, Measure

All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments; taking stock of how our investments are doing.

If there is one single step where everything (so far) can go wrong, it is at this step – Measuring the Progress.

If we don’t measure the progress timely, then we would be shooting in the dark. We wouldn’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not; whether financial advisor is doing a decent job; whether we are moving closer to our target or not.

Do measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

The Bottom Line

This completes the list of tips for you to set financial goals and actually achieve them with not so great difficulty.

As you can see, all it requires is discipline. But guess that’s the most difficult part!

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Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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