When you head into your 30s, your life is filled with more responsibilities. No matter if you’re single, married, or have started a family, making key financial moves can help you take advantage of financial opportunities and weather setbacks when they occur, because they will. Here are 10 steps that can help you build security and reach your financial goals.
- Pay Down High-Interest Debt
Carrying debt can be a burden on your budget, particularly credit cards with high interest rates. And if you’re making minimum payments, you’re keeping your account in good standing but you’re only going to be paying interest on the debt you haven’t paid off. There are many options to tackle debt, especially if you have a good credit score, which can help you transfer your balance to a lower-interest card. As an example, this may include introductory 0% APR options available from credit card companies for a set period of time. Read Five Tips to Get Out of Debt in the New Decade to develop an action plan.
- Keep an Eye on your Credit Score
Having a good credit score allows you to get the best interest rates on loans and credit cards, buying a home or car, or even landing a job. When your score isn’t up to par, you’ll be limited in your options, and won’t be able to secure the best rates or qualify for certain loans. If you pay your bills on time, don’t max out your credit lines, and don’t apply too frequently for new credit, your credit score will be higher. Late payments are one of the biggest ways to quickly lower your score. Always pay your bills on time, even if you have to make a minimum payment. Read Demystifying Your Credit Score to learn more.
- Add to Your Retirement Contributions
A rule of thumb says to earmark 10% of your pre-tax income toward your retirement savings. The earlier you start contributing and increase those contributions the better off you’ll be because of compounding interest, which is the interest you earn on the interest of your investments.
If you have an employer-sponsored retirement plan such as a 401(k), 403(b) or 457(b), the IRS allows you to contribute a significant amount toward your future. Visit irs.gov to learn more. Read Bump Up Your Retirement Account This Year.
- Bump Up Your Emergency Fund
If you haven’t made this a part of your budget, you’re missing out on a fundamental element of creating lasting financial well-being. Experts say you’re supposed to have three months of living expenses saved up. If you haven’t started, take a look at your budget and cut out unnecessary spending, then choose a set amount to contribute and increase it over time. Make sure you set up automatic deposits into a high-yield savings account, one that’s not connected to your checking account. Any time you get a raise, or extra funds, increase your contributions. The trick is to get started and keep going. If you make it a habit, you’ll be successful. Check out AmericaSaves1 for tips on ways to save.
- Review Your Insurance Needs
As your life changes and your income increases, protecting your assets is vital. When you buy a home or improve it, purchase a new vehicle, or start a family, you’ll most likely need to increase your coverage. By reviewing your options with an insurance agent, you can see if your insurance is sufficient and how to get discounts – such as bundling your coverage. Remember, you need to consider elements beyond just the price tag. If you’re inadequately insured, it can potentially cost you in the long run. A SchoolsFirst Insurance Services agent will guide you through the process of choosing the best insurance to protect you and your family. Our insurance agents work directly with top insurance providers, gathering quotes, coverage options, and discounts to find the policy and price that’s right for you. Visit schoolsfirstfcu.org/insurance to learn more.2
- Start Saving for Your Children’s College Education
This tip comes with a caution: Saving for your retirement comes before your children’s higher education. That’s because there are plenty of options to pay for college, but there are no scholarships, grants or loans for retirement. However, opening a college savings account such as a 5293, Coverdell or College Saver Share Certificate can get you saving on a regular basis. Encouraging family members to donate to one instead of simply buying toys is another smart move. Read Smart Ways to Save for College to learn more.
- Create a Simple Will
Although nobody likes to think about worst-case scenarios in life, planning for your family’s future if something happens to you is something you shouldn’t put off. If you haven’t established at least a simple will, it’s time to do so. Creating a will dictates your wishes for how your assets should be distributed, and instructions for how your minor children should be cared for. If you don’t know where to start, there are free simple will templates available online. For more in-depth guidance a financial advisor with SchoolsFirst FCU can help. Read Demystifying Estate Planning to learn more.
- Calculate Your Net Worth
When it comes to understanding your financial health, calculating your net worth is a good place to start. Simply put, your net worth is everything you own minus your debts. Your assets include all your financial and investment accounts, your home and car, and anything else you own. Your debts include home, auto, student and personal loans and credit card balances. Use a free online calculator such as Kiplinger’s1, to figure out yours. If you have a low net worth, don’t worry. You may have student loans you are paying off or have just opened a home loan. As you pay down debts, and make more money, your net worth will increase over time.
- Consider a Retirement Date
Even though retirement is years away, having a realistic idea of when you’ll be able to is something to understand now. Most likely, you’re nearing your peak earning years, so it’s important to be saving as much as you can. If you’re not saving at least 10% of your pre-tax income, work toward contributing that amount. According to the Stanford Center for Longevity1 if you start saving for retirement at age 25, consider saving 10% to 17% of your income. If you wait to start saving at age 35, you’ll need to bump that up to 15% to 20%. Try out our Retirement Nest Egg Calculator to see what you’ll need to save for a comfortable retirement.
- Meet With a Financial Advisor
No matter how old you are, meeting with a financial advisor can help you establishing short- and long-term goals and create a financial plan that adjusts as your circumstances change.
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Extra Credit provides general information to help improve our Member’s financial lives. Every situation is different, so please contact us for guidance on your specific needs. The advice provided in Extra Credit is not intended to serve as a substitute for speaking to a loan representative, financial advisor, or GreenPath Financial Wellness counselor who can help tailor a solution for you. If you post a comment, we will make every effort to respond or contact you directly. We reserve the right to delete comments that contain personal information, unauthorized content, or are generally inappropriate.