Managing Finances in Your 30s

couple discussing finances at computer, saving money in your 30s

Your 30s is an exciting phase of your life. You still have the vigor and energy of youth without the uncertainty that can hover over your 20s. By this time, you are more confident, more emotionally and mentally stable and have more financial leeway. This is also the phase when you make life-changing decisions like buying a house, moving in with someone, getting married and having children. Significant choices like these will impact the next 20 or 30 years of your life. Taking these factors into consideration, managing finances in your 30s and saving money well is all the more imperative.

Reality-check: Most Americans Fail at Managing Finances

While most people are aware that financial security does not happen overnight, few have taken steps to secure their financial situation. According to a survey conducted by, 67% of Americans save little to nothing. From this same study, 39% of the respondents say that high expenses are preventing them from saving more; 16% say they have not gotten around it; 16% say that their income level is not enough; 13% say that they are paying off debts. These numbers indicate that a lot of people could be struggling by the time they retire.

The average retirement age is 63 years old and may seem far away when you are in your thirties. With 30 or so more years to save up for retirement, most people delay saving. It is easy to see why 74% of Americans are not ready. And for those who do save up for their golden years, most do not factor in and budget for health care expenses, leisure, and senior living costs. Financial advisors estimate that $1 million in retirement savings is a solid plan.

Whether you need a higher or lower amount, the key to achieving financial freedom and realizing your retirement dreams is to start working on it as early as you can.

How to Financially Thrive in Your 30s

Here are seven ways to help you better manage your finances in your thirties:

1. Save Money When You Can.

  • Cut back on expenses. Start by establishing how much you spend and where your money goes per month. After this, you will be able to determine how you can cut back.
  • Create a separate account for vacations, home repairs, and down payments. For better budget planning, these type of expenditures should not be mixed with daily expenses.
  • Create a college savings account as soon as you have kids. A 529 Plan is a good example—a college savings plan that offers tax and financial aid benefits is a good way to go. College tuition fees are one of the major expenses for a parent, plan early and be prepared.
  • Open an IRA Account and try to put in more money every month. This will help increase your future retirement funds.

couple with a child talking about finances with their advisor - saving money in your 30s

2. Set Plans and Goals. Identify Priorities.

  • When setting financial plans and goals, you have to first ask yourself what about the motivations behind your financial decisions. Do you wonder why you splurge on vacations but stall saving for retirement? Your life values have an influence on your decisions. Knowing your motives will make it easier for you to set goals and stick to it.
  • Goals should be classified into three buckets—short term, medium term, and long term. Writing them down will allow you to identify where the goal falls. It will also help if you can identify which ones are the most important so you can set your priorities.

3. Learn the Art of Salary Negotiation.

4. Create Emergency Funds.

  • Your emergency fund should be able to cover three to six months worth of living expenses. In the event that you lose your job, having an emergency fund will buffer your finances until you find another job and prevent you from dipping into your savings.
  • Start by setting aside small amounts every day. Look at your daily expenses and see how you can save up a few dollars to add on your emergency fund.
  • Windfalls and extra funds (like refunds, bonuses, and raises) can significantly add up to your emergency fund. Instead of spending them on something frivolous, try to put all our some into your emergency fund or savings account.

5. Get Insurance.

  • Insurance is a financial safety net that can help cushion the impact of unexpected events such as disability or sickness. Generally, 60% of the base salary can be covered by insurance in extreme cases of sickness and injury.
  • Insurance plans can also help pay off student loans and leave enough funds for children in case of parental death.

6. Make Safe Investments.

  • There are a number of investment vehicles where you can place your hard-earned money. Research options such as Certificate of Deposits, Treasury bonds, money market mutual funds, and fixed annuities and determine what’s best for you. These investment vehicles are the safest forms of investments you can own as they protect the principal and provide interest.
  • Engage a financial planner when you can. They can offer sound financial advice and help you make safe investments.

7. Take Advantage of Retirement Plans Offered by Employers.

  • Most companies provide retirement or 401(K) plans to its employees. Be sure to review the rules of your 401(k) to ensure that fees or taxes do not reduce your balance.
  • Try and contribute them as much as you can without undue hardship and take advantage of any company matching to increase your overall savings.

More than saving money, it is important is to understand that financial freedom and stability can only be achieved with focus and commitment. Seize the opportunity while you are in your thirties and reap the benefits in retirement.

About the Author

Ellen Madden studied Communications and Women & Gender Studies at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina. She is navigating motherhood while working and celebrating life in Tampa, FL where she grew up. Ellen is a food lover and is learning the art of writing as she goes along.
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