The big changes you go through in your 30s make it a fun decade. You might still be single, be about to get married, or have just started a family.
This is also when you start to make a name for yourself in your chosen field or try out different jobs to find your niche. As you go through these changes, it’s important to know what financial goals you’ll want to work towards.
A recent survey by GOBankingRates found that one in four Americans don’t feel comfortable with basic money skills until they are at least 30 years old. Here are some money skills you should know by the time you’re 30, so you’re ready to make bigger financial decisions.
Tanya Peterson, vice president of brand at Freedom Financial Network, said that making and using a simple budget is part of being financially literate because it helps you know how much money you make and how much money you spend.
When people know how much money they make, how much they spend, how much they save, and what their goals are, they can set priorities and tell the difference between wants and needs.
Many people think of budgeting as a tool that limits what you can do. This is one reason why it can be hard to master. Peterson said that a budget is meant to help you spend your money in a way that helps you reach your goals. Think carefully about and write down your financial goals as the first step. Then, make a budget that is based on these goals and change it as needed.
Peterson says that one goal is to buy a house. The first thing you might want to do is buy a house in the next two years. But you could change this goal to buying a house in the next five years if that fits better with your budget and your needs. Setting goals and making a careful budget will help you stay on track and get where you want to go.
You can’t just save money once and be done with it. This is a money skill that will help you save money over time.
“Making it a habit to save helps people learn about money by showing them that spending should be tied to goals for which they need to save and that everyone has to pay for unexpected things; the key is to be ready for them,” Peterson said.
Peterson says that if you want to save money regularly, you should have a certain amount of your regular paychecks put into your savings account automatically. In general, this should be 10% of your net income, or a little more if you can, or a little less if you have to.
Having a fund for emergencies
Amy Maliga, a financial educator at Take Charge America, said that getting into the habit of saving for emergencies is one of the most important things you can do to get your finances in order.
Maliga said that the amount of money saved for emergencies depends on a person’s income and the size of their family, but it is best to save up to six months’ worth of living costs in this account. Maliga says that if you don’t have any money to start with, you should make it a priority to save $500 and then keep building from there.
Like a regular savings account, emergency savings are not something you can put money in once and forget about. If you need to use these funds, you should only do so in a real emergency, like when you get sick out of the blue or need to fix something in your house. Once you use the money, put it back in the fund as soon as you can save again, and keep setting money aside for this fund.
Using a credit card in a smart way
By the time you’re 30, you should know how to use a credit card in a smart way. Peterson said that this means you shouldn’t charge more than you can pay off each billing cycle.
Your 30s are also a good time to learn about credit-related words and phrases. Think about what it means to have credit available, how to use credit, what a credit report is, and how your credit score is calculated.
Maliga said, “When you’re in your 30s, you should make it a habit to check your credit reports and scores often and learn how to keep them in good shape for potential lenders.” “Remember that your payment history is the single most important thing that affects your credit score. Next is how much of your available credit you are using at any given time.”
Maliga says that lenders should set and keep the goal of keeping their credit utilisation below 30%. If you don’t know how to read your credit report, you should talk to a financial advisor or another expert who can help you.
Maliga said that once you know how to check your credit report, you can better understand how to report mistakes to the three major credit bureaus and fight for yourself if you find mistakes.
Getting out of debt
If you have debt in your 30s, like student loans or a mortgage, which is common for people in this age range, you need to know how you plan to pay it off.
Find out how much debt you have, how you plan to pay it off, and if you can refinance or combine your debt. Maliga says that if you need help understanding your current financial situation and figuring out the best ways to get your debt under control and move forward, you should talk to a nonprofit student loan counseling service or a credit counseling service.
As you move up in your career in this decade, the art of negotiation is a money skill you can’t ignore.
“Being a good negotiator will help your bank account and your long-term financial goals.” “You can use it to negotiate job offers and raises, as well as better rates from credit card companies and service providers,” Maliga said.