Budgeting 101: Money Habits Best Learned in Your 30s

The stages of life used to be clear cut. Teen years are all set for the rebellion and careless discovery. The 20s are all about starting out in the world and experiencing the endless parties. The 30s used to be the time to mellow down, let the excitement settle, and start getting serious. Or so we thought.

According to the Social Security‘s Actuarial Life Tables, those who make it to their 30s live an average of 48 more years. That said, changes in social expectations among those hitting their 30s have taken hold, with a newly identified stage of life — the emerging adulthood —  leading to a period of semi-adult confusion.

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Ideally, your financial priorities should have shifted from saving to investing for your retirement as you hit The Big 3-0. If it hasn’t yet, you have a lot of catching up to do.

Keeping an open mind is all you need if you are to survive our 30s as a responsible adult in-charge of your financial security. To help you get started, here are some tips that will improve your financial security well into your 30s and beyond.

1. Practice living within your means.

In an ideal world, living within our means would be a breeze. In reality, this is easier said than done. After learning as many bad habits as you can while in your 20s, just cutting down will be a chore. Imagine having to stop your regular dose of Starbucks coffee before work? How about having to quit your 3am run for some greasy burgers?

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Upon reaching your 30s, these things have got to stop. You’ve got to understand that these jaunts are hard to both your body and your wallet. If you don’t agree, try to list all the unnecessary food runs/deliveries and the corresponding expenses you incurred in the past.

2. Be patient, indulge in delayed gratification.

The society has gotten used to the instantaneous returns of the modern society. Almost no one remembers the goodness of delayed gratification. For your 30s, precondition yourself to be patient. Take the time to toil patiently for something you really want, instead of unnecessarily going into debts for your instant rewards and struggling to pay it back later on.

3. Pay your debt and start saving for your retirement.

A netizen once said, “If you are in debt more than 10% of your gross annual salary this is a huge red flag. Quit spending, pay off your debt and start saving.”

With inflation on the rise and wages remaining as it is, it might seem difficult to make enough money to sustain your lifestyle. That said, paying for existing debts might be challenging. Saving for retirement would be like a dream. It really might look that way if you think about it. How about just taking a portion out of your salary without thinking? You can do the thinking after the savings has been set aside.

4. Keep an “emergency” emergency fund.

Traditionally, you are hard pressed to have an “emergency fund” stashed somewhere for when you need it. Horror stories about financial ruin caused by health issues, bad business deals, or even some unexpected payable are motivation enough.

In your 30s, having an “emergency fund” is not enough. It would be best to have a second, or even a third layer of emergency funds prepared. By the time you reach your 30s, you should already know that it’s not always true that “lightning never strikes the same place twice.” It doesn’t apply to financial troubles, it seems.

5. Level up your investments, insurance, and plans

While owning houses and other forms of properties is one secret to financial success, this really isn’t everything. You would still want to supplement your income with investments, protect your income generator with insurance, and write a financial plan. This should have been something you started in your 20s and bring up a notch higher in your 30s.

If you claim to being a late bloomer and are just starting now, you will need to adjust and readjust your budget fast. There just isn’t much time to kick bad habits slowly while you develop a coping mechanism if you wish for a financially sound retirement.

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