You’ve graduated college, you are in the real world and you are living it up. But at some point during all the fun, you wake up one morning and realize that you are quickly approaching 30 and haven’t really got your life together yet. Not to worry, many people are still figuring out their life at 30. Hell, many people are still figuring out their life at 40. There is no need to have your entire future planned out just because you are turning 30. However, there are a few financial hurdles that you will need to scale in order to at least start heading in the right direction.
You can still find yourself, but you also need to find some money
Your 20s are a perfect time to find yourself, whether it be discovering what kind of job you want or just discovering the world by traveling as much as possible. It’s a great feeling, and it doesn’t necessarily have to end when your 30s begin. It’s OK if you haven’t figured out what you want to do by the time you hit 30, but you should be doing something. You should have a salary that allows you to live comfortably without scraping together change from the couch cushions to pay for dinner. And if you don’t, you should cut down on your expenses and get organized financially. How? Sites like Manilla and Personal Capital will keep tabs on all of your finances for free, all you need to do is check out their cool graphics every once and while to see what you are spending money on and where you can cut expenses.
If you don’t have a savings account yet, you are WAY behind
Living from paycheck to paycheck is fine when you are in your early 20s because you are just starting out and need to build your finances. But if you are in your late 20s and still don’t have any money put away, you need to start saving now. Even if you never plan on buying a house or having kids, you never know when you are going to need a nest egg for emergency purposes, like losing your job or having a medical emergency. Beyond that, putting money aside is a way of investing in your future, and approaching your 30s is a good time to start planning for the future.
Get ahead of your student loans
People who pay off their student loans by age 30 either didn’t have many to begin with or somehow landed a high-paying job right out of college. No one expects you to have your loans completely paid off by 30. However, you need to at least be ahead of them. What does that mean? Stop paying the minimum monthly payment. You are probably, at most, paying off the interest you are accruing on your loan. Increase your monthly payments. Watch your loan bill carefully and make sure you are paying more than your interest, otherwise you will be paying on the loan for the rest of your life.
Start a 401K
Unless you work for a tiny company or have a part-time job, your company more than likely offers a 401K, and you should be taking advantage of that. If you are lucky enough, your employer has a matching program that gives you money back for every dollar you put toward your 401K. If your employer doesn’t offer a 401K, then you should be setting one up yourself. Not sure how? Sites like OptionsHouse and TD Ameritrade offer great IRAs and can help you set them up, even if you know nothing about them.
Fix your credit score
Let’s face it, when we are in our early 20s (or even in college), we used our credit cards as an extra source of income, am I right? In most cases, we probably couldn’t pay them off and we ended up doing a little damage to our credit. But now that you are almost 30, it is time to fix those mistakes. Here’s a quick guide on some easy ways you can fix your credit score. And here’s a great credit monitoring product that can help you monitor your credit scores and reports. If you don’t start fixing those mistakes now, it’s going to be even harder to buy a house or get a loan on your own. Speaking of …
Make a major investment without the help of your parents
This can be a car or even a house, if you can afford it, but going through the process of making a large purchase on your own will prepare you for other major purchases in the future. Buying a car is probably the easiest of these. All you need to do is find the right car for you and the dealership can help you set up financing and whatnot. Just do some research beforehand to make sure you aren’t getting scammed. If you want to buy a house, it might be a good idea to check out a site like LendingTree, which can give you some insights into whether you would qualify for a mortgage and how to go about getting financing to buy a house.