Personal Finance Advice For Your 30’s.

picture by Perfesser

This post was written as part of the M-Network’s Money Matters for All Ages project. You can see the rest of the articles at the bottom of this post.

Your 30’s – the first time you start feeling mortal and like a grown-up at the same time…at least that’s when I did. And although I still think I look younger than I really do, the fact is that I am 35 years old and not getting any younger. Life starts moving faster and faster the older you get; just ask my 96 year old grandmother how fast it went by and she says “like lightning”. Enough said, right? So what are you doing to prepare for the rest of your life, as you start your families, buy your first house, move to a one-income family or start to really try to pay off your student loans? People used to do all this stuff in their 20’s, but nowadays it is not uncommon for us to start “living” in our 30’s, and it is important that you start off on the right foot! Here is some advice I can give to those of you entering or already living in your 30’s.

If you are already married and you don’t have children yet, the one huge piece of advice I can give you is to save your money. And save a lot of it. Although I don’t have kids myself yet, this is the one thing I hear from our friends who have had kids already – save. your. money. It’s much easier to get ahead when you don’t have a couple of little ones eating away at your wallet. Before kids, both you and your spouse are probably working so with two incomes it should be much easier to save money. After kids, one of you might stay home – and cut the family income in half. So when you are making the money, put as much of it as possible away. You won’t regret it later. However, if you are still carrying debt…

I would also make sure you get all that credit card debt paid off. There is nothing worse than owing money on that stereo you bought back in college! As you might be interested in buying a house soon or replacing your convertible with a minivan, you want to get rid of that credit card debt as soon as possible so you can free up your money to put towards more important endeavors.

Are you still carrying around student loan debt? Unless you went to medical or law school, where your debt runs in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, I would do everything I could to get rid of that as well. And I would pay the debt before I start saving my money for anything other than a small emergency fund. As you get older, expenses will keep piling up – the house needs a new roof, the kids want to go to summer camp, grandma needs to go into a home – and you don’t want to have to balance those new responsibilities with old debt.

Have you started saving for retirement? If not, why? The earlier you start, the less you have to put away to be comfortable as you get older. The difference between starting at 25 versus starting at 35 is huge, so the earlier the better. Take it from me – I did not start as early as I should have and now I am playing catch up. And you don’t want to do that. Even if you start small, start today – $50 a month into a Roth IRA or into the 401K at your work is better than nothing, if it is all that you can afford. But the key is to start ASAP. Retirement age comes at you fast and furious…be ready.

How are you for health insurance and life insurance? My wife and I decided not to carry life insurance until we have children because A. we have enough money to cover the death of one of us and B. both of us are fully capable of taking care of ourselves on our own. But health insurance is a huge priority, and I recently wrote about my personal experience with needing and using it – and saving myself thousands of dollars in medical care. Even if all you can afford is catastrophe or a policy with a high deductible, get health insurance today. There is no messing around with this stuff. And the older you get, the more apt you are to have something go wrong with your body, never mind get in an accident. Trust me on this one…

Your thirties are a great time – you have the ability to still do anything you want in life, you are young enough for any kind of adventure, you still have your full mobility, and you can still figure out how to play a video game. 😉 Now is the time to really consider where you are going, where you want to be, and where you want to end up. My thirties have been an adventure – I got married, I made sacrifices to live where I wanted to live, and I quit my good-paying corporate job to start out on my own working from home. And so far, everything has worked out quite well. Next in line is kids, and because my wife is younger than me 🙂 and we have been working on being financially savvy, we will be OK and we are looking forward to the next adventure. Life goes by so fast – don’t blow it wasting time and money!

As promised, here are the rest of the articles from the Money Matters for All Ages project. Be sure to check them out!

January 15 – Introduction at My Dollar Plan
January 16 – Preschoolers at I’ve Paid for This Twice Already
January 17 – Children and Pre-Teens at Being Frugal
January 18 – Teenagers at DebtFREE-Revolution and Gather Little by Little
January 19 – College Age at Mrs. Micah
January 20 – The Twenties at Remodeling This Life and Cash Money Life
January 21 – The Thirties at Moolanomy and My Two Dollars
January 22 – The Forties at Credit Withdrawal
January 23 – The Fifties at Millionaire Money Habits and Credit Withdrawal
January 24 – The Sixties and beyond at Chance Favors
January 25 – Retirement at Four Pillars and Plonkee Money
January 26 – Wrap up and highlights at My Dollar Plan

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Comments (14)

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  1. Patrick says:

    Great tips! My wife and I are planning on having children soon, and I know we will drop down to one income. It will be a huge financial change, but one we are preparing for now!

  2. Lise says:

    I dislike that you seem to make the assumption that everyone will have kids eventually, so they better plan for it. There are plenty of couples who can’t have children or specifically don’t wish to (I’m one of the latter), and it’s a fallacy to assume that everyone wishes children to be part of their life. Certainly, saving your money is never bad advice, but it’s the difference between saving for retirement and putting money into a 529.

  3. david says:

    I am sorry Lise that you feel slighted, but I can only write from my perspective, from having friends who all have kids to talking about my wife and I who plan to have children. And although I respect your decision, I would have to write only about what I have familiarity with. I hope you can understand that!

  4. anony says:

    I’ve been told it’s good to have some sort of disability insurance as well. You never know when a car wreck or illness or whatever else might leave you unable to work for an extended period.

  5. david says:

    Good tip Anony!

  6. Four Pillars says:

    Very good post and nice blog! (first time here).


  7. david says:

    Thanks Mike, appreciate it!

  8. Pinyo says:

    David, great post. This one is almost as good as mine 😉

    And, yeah…good tip on the disability insurance there, Anony.

  9. David says:


  10. That’s great advice. I just put a blog together with similar advice but for 20somethings….thought I’d share!

  11. Nat says:

    If you are planning to have children, I would definately consider life insurance before attempting to get pregnant. Sometimes, pregnancy can cause medical conditions to surface that make the cost of aquiring life insurance to sky rocket. And, although it is very rare, women still do die from pregnancy and/or delivery complications. It is better to have the insurance in place before the baby even becomes a twinkle in your eye … imagine having a newborn baby, 1/2 your income and daycare expenses.

  12. david says:

    Thanks for the tip Nat, that is something to think about!

  13. MoneyEnergy says:

    Thanks for the reminder about facing mortality in there…. I’m a new member of the “thirties club” and know what you mean – great push towards not wasting any time or money. Too bad in our society so much of our “life” is about feeling the need to catch up financially according to this arbitrary income hierarchy. I guess that’s social organization for ya, though – where would we be without it:)

  14. Becky says:

    Having adequate insurance is great advice for those who are planning a family. Also an important thing to consider if you’re planning on kids in your 30’s is having a will. They do not have to be complicated and are not very expensive to have drawn up by a lawyer. In the event that you or your spouse die, a will would ensure that your money ends up where you want it. You would have to name an executor who will have the responsibility of managing your estate after you die, which would include paying off debts and making sure your assets are disbursed as you wish. Otherwise the government will step in an do it for you and eat up a substabtial amount of the money you leave behind. Also, in the event that both parents die, you can name a guardian for your children and work out the details of how and when money will be left in trust for them.