If you are married with kids, own a home, entrenched in your career and feeling like there isn’t much you can to do to change your financial situation, you are probably in your thirties.
If you are doing well financially, you probably feel as though you will continue to do well. However, if you are struggling financially – perhaps you are encumbered with heavy credit card debt that needs to be negotiated for settlement – you probably feel as though it is getting too late to do anything about it.
This is why financial planning and budgeting in your 30’s requires an entirely different strategy than planning in your 20’s or 40’s.
Three keys to financial planning in your 30’s
- College Tuition
- Owning your Home
Remember, each year that passes puts you closer to retirement. Yes, you may have another 25-30 years or more before retirement, but it isn’t as far off as it once seemed. That’s why saving now is very important.
If you have a 401k at your job, contribute the maximum. If your employer offers matching funds at a certain level, at least contribute the maximum matching amount, so you get the “free money” from your employer’s matching funds. If your employer offers no retirement plan, or you want to stash even more cash for the future, open a ROTH IRA and then contribute regularly.
Your investment portfolio should carry the maximum amount of risk with which you are comfortable, since you are young enough to ride out the ups and downs of the stock market. Consider this: if at the age of 32 you begin saving $8,800 a year, you will have saved a million dollars by the time you are 62 (assuming an average interest rate of 8%). Not too shabby.
If you plan on assisting your children with college, start planning early in their life. Start a 529 College Savings Plan or even a regular savings account and begin to accumulate interest. Then, when the time comes to see them off to continue their education, you should be able to help them out quite a bit with the costs. Many states have Prepaid College Education plans. These “forced savings” programs require you to deposit a specified dollar amount every month for a period of years (usually five) which will then cover – either partially or fully depending upon the arrangement – the child’s 4-year college tuition.
Become a Homeowner if at all possible
Last of all, you should be a homeowner. If you are not, now is a good time to start looking to purchase a home, if you can. With lots of foreclosures on the market, housing prices are low. Interest rates may be rising soon, but are still quite low (particularly if you have good credit); so this is an excellent time to buy if you can afford it. Renting may seem like a good option now, but rental availability is projected to keep diminishing; thereby resulting in higher rent.
Owning a home is a great asset. Once you get past the down payment, paying the mortgage isn’t very different than paying monthly rent. Just be certain to negotiate affordable monthly payments (including taxes and insurance). Although some may disagree, most people still feel that owning a home is great for your net worth while providing financial security and stability.
For assistance in the decision-making process, make sure you consult a qualified professional.