You’ve learned plenty of valuable lessons by age 30, but have you learned everything you should know about money? Financial literacy goes beyond having a bank account or understanding interest rates. Here are 8 real-life personal finance lessons to improve your money habits in your 30s and beyond:
- Stick to a budget. Living paycheck to paycheck won’t put you on the right financial track. By 30, make sure you’ve created and can stick to a budget. Smart money management will help you save money and reach your financial goals sooner.
- Build an emergency fund. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s to prepare for the unexpected. If you don’t have one, work toward an emergency fund with enough money for 3 to 6 months of living expenses, so you can handle the unexpected, such as job losses, repairs and medical emergencies without racking up credit card debt and other financial obligations.
- Make career moves. Working your way up in your career can help you grow your income. Continually work to understand changes in your field, and look for higher-paying positions to maximize your income potential.
- Invest in yourself. Your income potential is your greatest asset, so it pays to invest in professional development. A good rule of thumb is to reinvest 3% of your annual income in professional development, such as conferences, classes and certifications.
- Avoid unnecessary debt. According to Investopedia, you should keep monthly debt payments (including rent or mortgage, student loans and credit cards) under 36% of your monthly income. This will make it easier to make payments without stretching your budget. Continually work to minimize debt and only take it on when necessary—excess debt can negatively impact your credit score.
- Talk about money together. In a serious relationship? Talking about money with your significant other is important. Make spending decisions together and get on the same page about what financial freedom means to you both.
- Prioritize retirement savings. Saving for retirement now will help increase your long-term savings through compound interest. The longer the savings account exists, the more you build interest.
- Splurge where it matters. Save in advance and allow room in your budget for things like travel and hobbies. It’s good to find a balance between enjoying life now and saving for later.
Learning these money lessons now will help you avoid overspending and accumulating debt while building a strong financial foundation for your future.
This content is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.