While there are many things you can do with your money, making the right move at the wrong time is still the wrong move. In this article, I unpack the top things to focus on in your 30s to be smart with your money.
Build your savings muscle
Your 30s are a decade where saving well is more than half the battle. If you’re like most people, chances are you either weren’t making enough money in your 20s or weren’t focused enough to save a lot of money.
At 30, that has to change.
You should reach a point in your career where you’re making a solid income, but it’s so easy to end up making more without having much extra savings to show for it. Don’t let that happen to you.
Take the time to split the money you have and what you spend, and make sure you’re happy with what you have left. This requires you to think critically about which expenses have the highest priority and which can be prioritized less so you can save more.
Once you have a savings plan that you are happy with, you need to build your savings system. I’m a big fan of having multiple bank accounts for your different wallets where you can automate your savings success and avoid yourself.
Being able to save well by age 30 has two other major benefits.
First, you know exactly how much money you can invest – something that goes a long way in helping you make good investment decisions. And second, it’s a habit to save well in your 30s that will stand you in good stead in your 40s and beyond.
Build your investment foundation
The biggest benefit you get from any investment is in the last year you own it, which means the sooner you start, the more you’ll end up with.
But for most people, fear of making a mistake causes them to delay investing.
If you take the opportunity you have to build a solid investing foundation in your 30s, you’ll set the platform for serious success for years to come.
To overcome the fear of making mistakes, educate yourself about the risks that come with investing. Some risks will not be for you and that is totally fine. But for others, once you understand how to manage and reduce risk, you’ll feel comfortable to get started.
I’ve talked to a lot of people about their money, ranging from really good to not so good. You may be surprised to know that the factor that makes the biggest difference between those who are successful and those who aren’t isn’t their income.
The people who are most successful with their money are the ones who put themselves in a position to trade sooner.
And since real estate is one of the biggest drivers of wealth, I’ll take it a step further and say that the most successful people are the ones who get into real estate the quickest — with one caveat I’ll unpack here.
I fully understand that property in Australia has exploded over the last few decades and many younger people feel that the property market has priced them out. And that’s true in some areas, but buying a property is totally doable for most people in their 30s, it’s often just a matter of what levers we pull to get there.
Buying your dream home is extremely attractive, but for most people in their thirties it’s quite unrealistic. When you’re spending heavily on your home, high mortgage payments can cripple your cash flow, and you may end up without a lot of money to channel to your real wealth-building outside of your home.
Buying an investment property costs a fraction of the purchase price of a property as a home. It also gives you the opportunity to buy a property in a place you don’t want to live, so you can buy at a price that suits your financial situation.
When you are buying a property, especially your first property, it is important that you choose a good one.
There are many different ways to go right with real estate, but in my opinion you should buy a property where there is high demand and limited supply. Avoid high-rise residential buildings and choose an area with low rental vacancies to reduce cash flow risk.
Step onto the front foot with ownership in your 30s and the decades to come will be a lot easier.
Your superpower shouldn’t need a lot of work or attention in your 30s, but a little effort and focus will go a long way. At this point you should have consolidated your super money and be investing the majority of your super money in quality investments.
You should make sure your superfund offers good value for money. The lowest fee option isn’t necessarily the best, but you don’t want to pay more than you have to.
Your 30s are a good time to start making small additional contributions to Super through salary sacrifices, which can greatly accelerate your Super’s growth.
The money comes from your pre-tax income, which means you feel those contributions less, and if you increase your contributions when you get a raise, you can do it in such a way that your net income never goes down.
What you do with your money in your 30s will dictate the possibilities for you in the years to come, so here are some smart steps to go a long way. To avoid catching up later, take some time to focus on your money and take action.
As you progress, review and celebrate your achievements—too often we just focus on what we didn’t do or what’s next. Backward measurement will highlight your achievements and keep you motivated to get the job done.
Also, take the time to learn from any missteps — mistakes are natural (and inevitable). The important part is that you learn and know what to avoid next time.
Ben Nash is a financial expert, commentator, podcaster, financial advisor and founder of Pivot Wealth and author of the Amazon bestselling book Get Unstuck: Your guide to creation a life not limited by money.
Ben has just launched a series of free online money literacy events to help you get back on track financially. Here you can see all the details and book your place.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is general in nature and does not take into account your personal goals, financial situation, or needs. You should therefore consider whether the information is appropriate to your circumstances before acting on it and, if necessary, seek professional advice from a financial professional.
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