Your 20s can be a tough time financially. Many 20-somethings are graduating from college, entering the workforce for the first time and figuring out how to navigate the financial responsibilities of adult life. When it comes to building toward and meeting your financial goals, your 30s is a great time to get started.
If you will soon be entering your 30s, now is the time to consider best practices of financial planning for 30-year-olds. Below, we cover financial goals for your 30s, how to start saving for retirement at 30, how to build wealth, how to invest and the best investments you can make in this decade of your life.
Financial Goals by 30
The first step of financial planning for your 30s is determining what your financial goals are. The following are some of the goals you may want to work toward in your 30s.
1. Increase Your Emergency Fund
In your 20s, you may have saved a small emergency fund. Now is the time to increase this fund to ensure you have enough savings to cover several months’ worth of your living expenses. In your 30s, both your income and your expenses tend to increase, so your emergency fund should increase as well.
You can use these funds to pay your bills if you face an unexpected job loss or a medical emergency. Move your emergency fund to a high-interest savings account to earn the most on your money. If you can get a raise, this can help you increase your emergency fund savings more quickly.
2. Make Advancements in Your Career
Your 20s are typically spent developing your marketable skills. You may have gotten a degree, entered a new field or considered a few different career paths. No matter your path, you’ve likely developed skills during this time that you can use to advance your career and increase your earnings. Research possible career paths you can take with your skills, and find the types of jobs you’re interested in.
If you are already working in your ideal field, consider how you can advance your career or get a promotion. This could involve searching for new opportunities, taking on new responsibilities or even relocating. Making big career moves now could pay off down the road.
3. Improve Your Credit
Check your credit and determine whether your score could be improved. You can request a free credit report from the major credit bureaus each year, and you may be able to monitor your credit score through your credit card provider or financial institution. When you review your credit report regularly, you can quickly identify and fix any errors or catch an identity thief.
Along with disputing errors on your credit report, you may be able to improve your credit score by ensuring you make each of your payments on time, pay off your credit card balance in full each month and maintain a variety of accounts, such as credit cards and loans.
4. Save for a Home
A home can be one of the best assets to buy in your 30s. In some markets, it can be more advantageous and even more affordable to buy a home rather than rent.
When you purchase a property, you begin building equity in your home as soon as you start making your monthly mortgage payments or when you put cash down on your home upfront. This may be a better financial move than losing money to rent each month with nothing to show for it at the end of your lease. To maximize the appreciation of your home, move to a neighborhood with high potential for growth.
To put yourself in the best possible financial position, you may want to first save up a down payment on your home. To avoid private mortgage insurance (PMI), you may want to save as much as 20% of your home’s value. For example, if the maximum you want to spend on a home is $200,000, the ideal down payment would be $40,000. Saving up for a down payment could take some time, so begin saving as soon as possible.
Keep in mind that you will also need to cover closing costs and may need savings for repairs or renovations, so you may want to save extra on top of your down payment.
5. Write a Will
Maybe it seems too early to worry about writing a will, but if you are married or have kids, be sure to write a will. Without a will, others can determine how your estate should be split. You may be able to complete your will yourself, or if your circumstances are more complicated, you may prefer to work with a lawyer who can draw up a will for you. When major life changes occur, remember to update your will accordingly.
4 Tips for How to Build Wealth in Your 30s
Here are a few tips on how you can build wealth in your 30s.
- Create or adjust your budget: If you haven’t yet created a budget, now is the time to do so. If you already have a budget, you may need to make some adjustments that accommodate your new financial goals. A budget should include your income, expenses and goals, and you may need to make adjustments during big life changes, such as marriage or the birth of a child. For example, you may need to reduce your budget for eating out when you have a baby on the way.
- Pay off high-interest debt: In your 20s, you may have taken on new debts. If you haven’t already, create a debt repayment plan. Paying off your debts, especially your high-interest debt, can help you increase your savings for retirement, even at age 30. Make a plan for how you will pay off your debt, such as whether you will use the debt avalanche method — paying off your debts from highest to lowest interest rates — or debt snowball method — paying them off from lowest to highest balance sizes.
- Take on risk: While you’re young, taking on risk can be beneficial in the long term. You still have time to overcome short-term volatility in the market, and the risk could lead to a greater average return. With compound interest, this means you can invest less money and still hit the same savings goal as someone who invests more into lower-risk investments.
- Get started now: While it’s never too late to start investing, it’s always better to start as early as possible. Compound interest will work in your favor the earlier you start investing for your financial future, so if you aren’t investing yet, start today.
How to Save for Retirement at 30
Another one of your financial goals at 30 should be starting to save for retirement if you haven’t already started saving in your 20s. Even if you’ve already started saving, now is the time to assess your strategy to ensure you can enjoy your retirement years.
How Much Does the Average 30-Year-Old Have Saved?
In some cases, it can be helpful to know how you compare financially to other Americans your age. While the average savings for 30-year-olds is roughly $11,000, the median is just $3,240. To determine what you should have saved, you need to consider your income, expenses and the lifestyle you want to fund during your retirement.
How Much Retirement Savings Should I Have at 30?
To make sure you’re on track, you may want to know how much retirement savings is ideal to have at 30. While there is no one-size-fits-all answer, a common rule of thumb is to have the equivalent of your annual salary saved for retirement. If you make $40,000 a year, for example, this means you should ideally have $40,000 saved for retirement by age 30.
If you’re wondering how much should be in your 401(k) at 30, the answer is the same unless you have opened separate retirement accounts like an IRA.
How Much Should I Be Saving for Retirement in My 30s?
A general best practice is to put a minimum of 10% to 15% of your gross income toward retirement in your 30s. In your 20s, you may have been contributing only to a 401(k) to earn your employer’s percentage match or you saved according to the percentage of your plan’s auto-enrollment policy. If you didn’t have a 401(k) in your 20s or employer matching, you may have saved sporadically whenever you had some extra money at the end of the month.
If you saved anything for retirement in your 20s, you may already be ahead of the curve. But if not, it’s not too late to start. A good starting point for your retirement savings may be 15% of your gross income, but more is always better. Remember that you can also count your employer’s contribution. If you want to save 15% of your gross income and your employer contributes 3%, you only need to save the remaining 12% yourself.
How to Invest in Your 30s
The best way to invest in your 30s is to diversify your investments. Once the basics of your personal finances are in place, such as your emergency fund, you can begin taking on more risk and growing your portfolio. You can invest in stocks, mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs), along with alternative investments. In your 30s, you can afford to invest more in stocks and take on more risk because you have time to recuperate any losses and potentially get higher long-term gains.
Steps to consider taking when investing in your 30s include:
- Contribute to your 401(k): Many Americans begin contributing to their retirement savings by age 30 via an employer-sponsored 401(k). These retirement plans have high contribution limits and involve contributions that are pre-tax. Some employers will match a certain percentage, which is essentially free money to boost your retirement nest egg.
- Diversify: Individual asset classes may experience downturns, but when you are invested in multiple asset classes, you are less likely to experience a decline in your entire portfolio. By diversifying, you can mitigate risk and protect your investments from potentially significant losses.
- Open a self-directed IRA: This individual retirement account gives you the ability to invest in alternative assets beyond the typical investment types like stocks and bonds. When you can invest in alternative assets, you can better diversify your portfolio and receive similar tax advantages that you would get from a conventional IRA, including funds that grow tax-exempt or tax-deferred. To open a self-directed IRA, simply complete an application with Accuplan, fund your account and begin investing.
Best Investments to Make in Your 30s
Once you know how to invest, you can determine which types of assets you want to invest in. Some of the most popular assets include:
- Stocks: Investing in stocks in your 30s is one of the best ways to get the greatest return on your investment. While stocks can be risky, when you diversify your portfolio by investing in different industries and companies, your growth rate has a greater chance of being positive over the course of the decades your money will spend in the market.
- Bonds: Along with stocks, you may want to include bonds in your retirement portfolio. Bonds are less susceptible to price fluctuations and function similar to loans to individual companies or the government with a fixed interest rate. Though the rate of return tends to be lower than stocks, bonds are considered lower risk and are typically included in a diversified portfolio.
- Real estate: With a self-directed IRA, you can invest in real estate assets, such as mortgage notes, trust deeds and real estate investment trusts (REITs).
- Index funds: An index fund contains dozens of stocks, so this can be a great investment vehicle if you want to diversify when you invest in the stock market.
- Private equity: You may also want to invest in private equity, such as an investment partnership, real estate venture or operating business. Limited liability companies (LLCs) and limited partnerships are often seeking accredited investors who can help raise capital needed to grow these businesses, so this may be another investment type you want to consider for your portfolio.
- Precious metals: With a self-directed IRA, you can invest in precious metals like gold and silver to help protect your retirement money.
- Cryptocurrencies: Cryptocurrency prices have increased dramatically in recent years, and this may be a high-risk, high-reward type of asset that you want to invest in, especially while you’re young. Buy and sell cryptocurrency effortlessly with Accuplan to diversify your self-directed IRA and retirement portfolio.
For more information on how you can best invest in your 30s and where you should be financially at 35 and beyond, turn to Accuplan.
Learn More About Investment Options With a Self-Directed IRA
At Accuplan Benefits Services, we are experts in this very niche industry, and we understand the specific rules that must be followed when investing for retirement. It’s critical to follow the rules and restrictions involved with certain types of assets, or risk disqualifying your IRA as a retirement account.
With a self-directed retirement account, you can invest in what you are passionate about. We have been helping our clients with retirement saving for decades, and with our expertise, we can help you meet your financial goals. Contact us at Accuplan to learn more about investment options with a self-directed IRA.
Our information should not be relied upon for investment advice but simply for information and educational purposes only. Our information is not intended to offer, nor should it be relied on, for investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.