We see lots of lists shared on the internet talking about what you need to accomplish before you’re thirty. Some of them tell you all of the countries you need to visit. Others detail the many adventures you need to experience, from skydiving to going on a blind date.
Today, I want to talk to you about the five things you need to do with your money before you turn thirty. These tips will set you up for success in your third decade and help forestall any quarter-life crises you may begin to experience.
1. Open a High-Yield Savings Account
Imagine if your savings account could be earning almost three percent interest simply for sitting in a certain bank account while you ignore it. Fortunately, it can with high-yield savings accounts. Two to three percent might not seem like much, but every penny counts, right?
My personal favorite high-yield savings accounts include Barclays and Ally Bank. They’re free to use and incredibly easy to set up.
There’s another reason besides the extra interest to set up a high-yield savings account. It allows you to separate your savings from the rest of your cash in a deliberate way. As you roll into your thirties, you’ll have more control over dipping into your savings when you really shouldn’t.
2. Make a REAL Plan to Tackle Your Student Loan Debt
It’s truly terrifying how often I hear people in their late twenties saying that they refuse to tackle their student loan debt. No matter how insurmountable your educational loans may seem, ignoring them is simply not an option, especially as you enter the years in which you are more likely interested in settling down.
Don’t let your missed student loan payments destroy your debt, and stop letting them accrue ridiculous amounts of interest. Now is the time to formulate a solid plan on tackling your debt so that you don’t drag it around like a ball and chain for the rest of your life.
3. Learn How Your Credit Score Works – Then Improve It
If you’re too afraid to check your credit score, or if you don’t know how to check it, make sure you overcome these problems before you’re in the full swing of adulthood. Understanding how your credit score works and what it is an essential part of growing up.
Once you know what your credit score is, it’s time to work on improving it so that you can set yourself up for success in your thirties and beyond. Whether that means getting a credit card and continuing to pay it off on time or eradicating large chunks of untouched debt, do what you have to do to make that important number higher.
4. Identify Your Main Savings Goals in the Next Decade
Right now, you’re probably feeling relatively untethered. You might not have children, a spouse, a house, or even a car to worry about saving for. However, those circumstances could very well change once you hit the big 3-0.
Think about where your savings goals will take you over the next decade. Even if you don’t plan to have children any time soon, do you plan to have them before you’re forty? What about buying a house? Traveling the world? Having a big wedding?
Before you turn thirty, check in with your hopes and dreams, then determine how you can start saving for them far, far in advance. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself later when you have a Friends-esque thirty-year crisis on your birthday.
5. Check-in With Your Retirement Savings
Last but not least, let’s talk about the word none of want to really think about: retirement. Unfortunately, now is the time to stop goofing off and finally open one of those 401k things everyone keeps talking about. Unless you want to keep working until you’re 80, you’ve got to start preparing for your future today, not tomorrow.
Visit your company’s HR department to talk about your 401k options. They’ll be able to walk you through the process of opening one and teach you how to start contributing. Additionally, you may be able to take advantage of a company’s match policy, which is basically like tapping into free money for your future retirement.
If you don’t work at a company that offers a 401k policy, or if you’re self-employed, educate yourself on investing through IRA accounts. This may seem more complicated, but that’s no excuse for turning thirty and having no retirement accounts to show for all your years of work.
Let’s be real: no 29-year-old wants to turn thirty. However, you can feel a heck of a lot better about aging if you’ve got your money working in your favor. Use these tips to start your third decade out on the right foot, and remember: age is just a number.