STARTING OUT


10 Financial Commandments for Your 30s

Stacy Rapacon

After establishing a solid financial foundation in your 20s, use the next decade of your life to keep building and protecting your wealth.



Your finances might have felt like a plague in your twenties, but thou shalt thrive throughout your thirties and beyond.

Our list of Financial Commandments for your 20s helped you find your financial footing and establish a solid foundation. Now that you're older and (hopefully) wiser, this list of goals will help you continue to build your wealth and blaze a path to financial security.

See Also: Kiplinger's Basics of Personal Finance

1. Advance your career.

In your twenties, you developed a marketable skill. Now it's time to apply that skill to increase your earnings.

Research potential career paths for workers with your skill. Identify the types of jobs and companies where you might fit. Consider whether you should go back to school for an advanced degree (or if some free online courses can help boost your career). You might even consider moving to a city where you can find more opportunities in your field.

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Sharp career turns can be worthwhile but also risky. You'll need a financial plan to keep your budget steady while you're changing course. (See Quit Your Job the Right Way.)

2. Rethink your budget.

You established a budget in your twenties and perhaps accumulated some savings. But your income and expenses, as well as your needs, wants and dreams, will likely change from year to year. Your budget will need to adjust to life changes such as getting married, having kids or starting your own business. "It's a balancing act," says John Deyeso, a financial planner in New York City, who works with many young adults (and is himself 37 years old). "Once you get into your thirties, you have more money and more goals, so how do you spread that around?"

You may need to cut spending in some areas to reallocate elsewhere. For example, when I got pregnant with my first child, I slashed spending on the "going out" line item—and added costs to my budget on a new "baby supplies" line item. (Happy hours were off the table anyway.)

If you've recently gotten a raise (congratulations!), you might consider ramping up your saving for emergencies (see commandment #5) and retirement (commandment #6).

3. Adjust your insurance coverage.

As your assets grow, you may need more insurance to cover them. Maybe you rent a bigger or more private space now. (Learn more about renters insurance.) Maybe you're buying a house (and need home insurance) or car (and need auto insurance). Maybe you have some loved ones who depend on you financially (and you need life insurance to make sure they're taken care of if anything happens to you). All of these situations call for additional protection.

Even if your situation hasn't changed, you should periodically reshop your insurance policies to make sure you're still getting the best deal. To compare auto insurance rates, try InsWeb and Insurance.com. For life insurance, you can check rates at Accuquote and LifeQuotes.com. If you're changing jobs, be sure you understand your new benefits and how your health insurance premiums will differ from those at your old job.

4. Pay off nonmortgage debt.

In your twenties, you came up with a debt-repayment plan. Stick with it throughout your thirties, so you'll enter your forties focused on building your nest egg for the future—not paying off bills from your past.

5. Increase your emergency fund balance.

Remember, your goal is to maintain three to six months' worth of living expenses in your emergency fund. As your income and expenses go up, so should the amount in your emergency fund. Worried that all that liquid cash isn't compounding as it might if invested in the stock market? Consider these ways to earn more interest on your savings.



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