No matter how big the income you get from your job or business, if you don’t know how to manage finances, you will never be able to move from point A to point B. Point A is where you are, money-wise, and point B is where you want to be. Before leaving your 30s behind, you should have mastered this bit of money wisdom.
Just to add more to your financial education, here are twelve moves you can do to take care of your treasure house.
1. Save while you can. When parenting necessities and mortgage costs rise, it will be hard to save money. You want to maximize the opportunities you presently have to stash away some cash, even little by little, so when the economically slow years will say hello, you won’t say mea culpa.
2. Plan for long term goals and identify your priorities. Now that your earning power is at its prime, grab the opportunity to plan on buying a house (that’s if you still haven’t), or think about how to implement college savings plan. When you start to have more expenses due to additional parental responsibilities such as the birth of another baby, school-related expenses for your children, or due to a bigger budget for a bigger car, etc., you’ll have lesser capability to put your plans into work.
3. Start a home business. As early as now, try to learn some new skills you can offer as a service and turn it into a business. You can also use part of what you have saved to start a business you can run from home. No, you don’t need to give up your job, not just yet. You need to grow it first and when it reaches a stage when it starts earning even more than what your getting as an employee, that’s the time you can think of slowly leaving work behind.
Or better yet, start saving buffer cash, so when you finally resign from your job, you have money to spend while building up your baby startup. A business, something you are qualified to operate, is one of the best investments you can have, and a money-savvy move you can’t miss. Just make sure of 2 things: One, you are confident you can manage the line of business you’re planning to put up (because you’ve thoroughly studied it). Two, you’re passionate about the business.
4. Create wise and solid money habits. It’s high time to develop money habits that will help you weather financial storms for the rest of your life. Kerry Hannon, a personal finance expert who wrote “Great Jobs for Everyone 50+,” says that in her 30s, she used up all available credit on her retirement savings accounts and even saved a part of her extra income from freelancing for retirement. She told us, those funds have served her well over the past years as reserved funds to help pay for vacations, emergencies, and more. She says, she still saves apart from retirement accounts scrupulously in her 50s, too. She’s proud to say, it’s a habit she started way back in her 30s.
5. Prepare for contingencies. It’s always wise to prepare for any eventuality. The worse that can happen to you at this time and era is to have a financial bankruptcy. Now, to avoid this you can prepare for one. The thing is, if you prepare, you will have a bigger chance of not having one. Nice paradox, right? Well I think this is the coolest realization for today. But, how do you prepare for one? There are three essential ways: by saving, by educating yourself, and by investing. Saving is self explanatory, but what I meant by educating yourself is reading books, magazines, attending seminars/workshops and talking to mentors about finances. Heck, we take time and make efforts to learn to drive, why not spend time learning how to manage our finances!
6. Want to leave a job? Roll over your retirement. Most people change jobs in their 30s several times, seeking the right spot where to grow and elevate their value for future career moves. However, this can lead to a patchwork of 401(k) plans at a number of past employers. A wiser move is to re-invest them into an IRA or into your next job’s 401(k), tax-free.
7. Save for retirement. The best time to save for retirement is now that you are young and capable. If you start saving when you’re nearing retirement age, that will decrease your chances of accumulating enough funds to have a comfortable life in your twilight years.
Recently, I read a book about financial planning by Francis Colayco, and I find it full of tips on how to retire with a bank full of cash. In a TV interview, he was asked why some high-income workers find it difficult to save money for retirement. Mr. Francis Colayco explains: “The biggest mistake people with money can make is premature acquisition of assets. They have enough for a down payment, they make the purchase. When asked how they will pay the amortization, they answer, ‘I’ll find a way.’ You can’t think like that, because the agreement you’ve entered into is an obligation that you have to pay whether or not you’ve made any profits. If you have no guarantee that you can pay, don’t make the investment, even if you have enough for the down payment.”
These unwise purchases will hinder you from saving for your future.
8. Get comfortable with negotiation. Learn and start to negotiate for higher salaries. A 52 year old certified financial planner who hails from Park City, Utah, Nancy L. Anderson, says while she has done many financially wise things in her 30s like saving enough college funds for her child, investing in rental property, buying a house, and setting aside 20% of her income, she realized she should have been bolder and asserted her right to get a higher salary. She said “If I’d negotiated a higher salary each time I changed companies in my career, I’d be wealthier today.” Most people move to other jobs approximately 11 times in their lifetime, negotiating for a better salary in those transitions could have accumulated me around $600,000,” she added.
9. Scope out cash for a down payment – prepare for a down payment for your first house. Even if retirement accounts are almost sacred, and many believe it’s not a wise decision to touch them, some financial planners consider it fair to use them as down payment for your first home.
You must justify this strategy by making sure you have enough time to replenish the accounts before retirement. In case you’re 45 or older, better not consider this idea. You must also be strategic with what account to tap. With a 401k, for example, you will incur a 10% penalty on early withdrawals and taxes. With an IRA, the U.S. government waives 10% of penalty on a distribution of even up to $10,000 for people buying a home for the first time. Despite this, you will still pay taxes on the withdrawal. The main point is, in your 30s you must find a way to make a down payment for your first home and look for ways to have enough consistent flow of income to pay for the amortizations.
10. Talk about money with your partner. If you’re married, working together with your spouse to be on track regarding finances and settling any disputes early on can prevent conflicts in the future. “People often comingle finances with their partner, and open communication is key. Make sure you talk about your finances and life goals with your partner, and align on how you will get there together,” Suzanna de Baca, Vice President of Wealth Strategies at Ameriprise Financial, suggests.
11. Set a goal for college savings. I know it’s a tough game. You are funding your retirement, and you are also demanded to plan and prepare for your kid’s college expenses. However, you can be practical by aiming to go to a public school for three years and two years at a private school and think of a way to pay the rest using current income. It will also help to have your student assist you in the expenses by encouraging him to take summer jobs. Use the college-cost calculator at Savingforcollege.com to manage scenarios like these. Sandy Block and Jane Bennett Clark, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine say, “To meet 50% of the total cost of four years at a public university, based on the current average annual cost ($17,131) and a 6% inflation rate for college costs, you’d need to save $222 a month for 18 years, assuming a 7% annual after-tax return on your college savings fund. If you covered half of only the tuition bill, you’d need to save $107 a month.”
12. Two salaries equals more taxes It’s common, couples most often don’t realize one essential thing: they are taxed as a single entity. It’s true, the so-called “marriage penalty” has been diminished by legislation in the past recent years, so the obvious and easy way to reduce liability is for the husband and wife or both earners to save funds into tax-deferred accounts–IRA or 401(k).
Financial Plan About.com, Deborah Fowles
Forbes.com, Mitch Tuchman, Contributor
Featured photo credit: *money explore*/John via flickr.com