If you’re like most people, you approached – or are approaching – your 30s with a bit of trepidation. After the fun of your 20s, it’s now finally time to become an adult for good which means, amongst other things, getting control of your finances. Despite this, many people in the same position have fallen prey to some common mistakes that have left them struggling at a time when it’s essential they’re saving for retirement and establishing an income they can build from.
Here are these four mistakes and how to avoid them.
Spoiling Your Child
There’s nothing wrong with the inclination to give your child the world. However, in your pursuit to satisfy this craving, you may end up ruining your finances. Many 30-somethings are either on their first child or their children are just starting to reach that age where they ask for everything. Either way, it’s a perilous time full of temptations to become Dad/Mom of the year.
However, this is also a great time to teach your child discipline, meaning they can’t have everything they want. Remember that they’re building habits during this time based on how you act. So if they see that you don’t practice self-control, they likely won’t either.
Marrying Someone Before the Money Talk
During their 30s, many people settle down and get married. Prior to doing so, they’ll most likely have no shortage of important conversations to establish that they’re both right for each other. Yet many won’t bring up money, either because they don’t know any better or they’re ashamed of some debts.
Unfortunately, differences in views about money is one of the biggest contributing factors in divorces. If nothing else, it can definitely lead to a lot of unnecessary stress and anxiety. Before tying the knot, sit down with your loved one and go over how much debt you both have and how you’d both work together to handle your finances once the honeymoon is over.
Not Aggressively Paying Down Debt or Taking on More
Some debt is okay if you’re able to manage it, but that doesn’t mean you should treat it with apathy. Your 30s are generally a great time to start aggressively paying it down, especially if you’re single and don’t have any children.
What you shouldn’t do is go the opposite route and start finding ways to add more debt to your life. Resist the temptation to get that fancy car, a bigger home than you need and other luxury items that will make your 40s that much more difficult.
Going Back to School
A somewhat new phenomenon has appeared over the last decade that sees people in their late 20s and early 30s going back to school either for another degree or their Masters. This isn’t fundamentally a mistake, but you should take plenty of time to make sure you’ve made this decision for the right reason. Otherwise, you’ll have a lot more debt and very little to show for it.
If you’re tempted into going back to school because you want to make more money or try a new field, there are almost always options to do both that don’t involve adding 10s of thousands of dollars to your debt.
You can still have fun in your 30s, but that’s no excuse to put off making smart decisions about your finances. Avoid the four mistakes we just outlined and you’ll be well on your way.