Each stage of life has different markers that try to meet and check off as you go along. Sometimes you hit every single marker right on cue…and sometimes you don’t—regardless, you should always know what they are and how you can attempt to tackle them. When it comes to finances, these markers get more complicated the older you get. For example, in your twenties, you were ahead of the game if you even contributed to a savings or retirement account.
But now, for those in their thirties, there are more crucial financial considerations to factor in. This is a time of hopefully career advancement and growth, a time to start a family, etc. It’s a time to lay the foundations to financial success—if the right steps are taken. Here’s what you should do in your thirties:
- Devote 15% of your Income Towards Retirement
As previously stated, not too many people in their twenties start contributing part of their paychecks towards a 401(k) or an IRA for retirement savings. And if they had contributed to a 401(k), it’s likely that they only invested a small percentage (perhaps just the same percentage matched by their employer, i.e.: 2-4%).
One thing to note is that there are two types of plans you can have: a traditional or a Roth 401(k). With a traditional 401(k), the money is produced tax-free—but will be taxed later on. A Roth 401(k) is the opposite—it’s taxed upfront so that it is tax-free at retirement.
By your thirties you should be devoting 15% or more of your paycheck towards your 401(k). If you are contributing to either a traditional or a Roth 401(k), this 15% does include the portion being matched by your employer. So, if they are contributing 3% for example, it’s wise to be contributing at least 12% towards your 401(k).
A good way to slowly build up to devoting 15% is by increasing your 401(k) by one percent (or two) each time you receive a raise or a bonus. You won’t feel the “pinch” of these savings, so it makes it easier to do—you just have to have the resolve to do it.
- Have 6-Months Worth of Personal Savings
Savings doesn’t just stop with having a 401(k), it continues on for funds you may need for a rainy day. You never know when something will happen, which is why it’s advised to have at least 6 months worth of savings in an interest-generating account. So many things can happen on any given day—you can lose your job, wreck your car; you may experience a home burglary or a fire. Rather than be caught financially unprepared, you can have some cushion to fall back on.
Keep in mind that the more financial obligations you have (mortgages, car loans, credit cards you have to consistently make payments on, etc.), the more you should adjust your savings amount.
- Payoff as Many Debts as Possible
High credit card debt is a horrible thing to have—it follows you like the plague and directly affects so many aspects of how you live. A credit score, for example, will impact the rates you’ll receive on a home loan, car loan—and any other major loan in general. Having a high revolving credit will hurt your score and have negative financial ramifications.
So if you do have debt, pay as much off as possible—and you’ll certainly have to pay much more than the minimum payments to do so. The freer you can be financially, the better off you are setting yourself up for your 401(k) and personal savings.