Here's how you can be super smart with your money by the time you're 30
If you‘re reading this then you’re likely approaching the big 3-0 and wondering what you should have to show financially by this milestone. Your 30s are a time to progress your life, own your choices, and enjoy the (hopefully) positive outcomes of those choices. To exit your 20s on a positive trajectory, consider the following:
Have a retirement account.
It’s important that you don’t leave your 20s without starting to plan for your future. If you have a 401k plan provided by your employer, and if you’re lucky enough to have an employer match, then that may be a good place to start. Allocate as little as 1% of your income or (preferably) more. If you don’t have a 401k, consider an IRA or Roth IRA to help you get started. Since dollars in these retirement accounts grow tax deferred (no taxes paid while it’s growing), the dollars you contribute when you’re young are the most impactful.
Check your credit score.
You should check how your credit score is doing so that you can work to improve it. The range is 300-850 (the higher the better). The goal is to get that score as high as you can because that impacts the rates and availability of financing down the road. As you go to buy a car, a house, or even refinance student loans, your credit score means a lot. If your score is low, there are steps you can do take to improve it.
Know your budget.
By 30, you should know what it costs to run your life, including: rent, car, food, clothes, etc. If you’re financially aware it will be easier to make choices down the road, such as how much to save, if you can afford a major purchase, or if you should consider getting a different job. Awareness of your current financial state is key.
Have a balance sheet.
A balance sheet lists your assets (savings account, stocks/bonds, retirement accounts, or a house) minus your liabilities (credit card debt, mortgage, car loan, and student loans). The difference between the two is your net worth. It’s smart to regularly review your net worth and work to increase it.
Protect your income.
Whether you’ve done a great job saving in your 20s or you haven’t even thought about it yet, most people can agree that your ability to earn an income is hugely important. By age 30, you should consider locking in supplemental disability coverage, above and beyond what your employer might provide, because that provides income if you ever became sick/ injured and unable to work. Unfortunately, about 1 in 4 of today’s 20 year-olds will become disabled before they retire so having income protection early on is not a bad idea and more affordable too.