Your 30s can be full of life transitions. Marriage, home ownership, career progression, starting a family — these are some common events that 30-somethings find themselves facing.
Navigating those life changes can be challenging, and so it’s important to ensure that you’re in good financial health when you’re going through this transitional life stage.
Here are nine tips to help you stay financially fit in your 30s.
1. Have at least six months worth of emergency funds stowed away
Your 30s is typically the stage of life wherein you have more financial responsibilities.
You could be married with children. Maybe you’ve become a homeowner and now have a mortgage to service. Or perhaps you’re caring for your ageing parents.
When you have financial responsibilities, it’s important to be prepared in case things go bad. That’s where a rainy day or emergency fund comes in, as it can provide you with a financial cushion when life takes a wrong turn.
Losing your job, having unexpected large expenses or having to deal with a family emergency can put a strain on your finances. An emergency fund can give you peace of mind.
Everyone’s financial and personal situation is different but it’s a good idea to have anywhere between three to six months worth of monthly living expenses stowed away, in case of a rainy day.
In your 30s, when you’ve presumably progressed in your career and are earning more, we suggest putting more towards ensuring your short-term financial security by having at least six months worth of emergency funds.
2. Pay off any non-mortgage debts
As you move into your 30s, one recommendation is to pay off your non-mortgage debts as soon as possible.
If you made some smart money moves in your 20s, you should be entering your 30s with minimal or no credit card or personal debt. You would’ve also contributed as much as possible to pay off any other loans, such as student loans, as soon as possible.
The same principle applies in your 30s.
If you have any remaining student loan debt or any other debt, it should be a priority to pay them off as soon as possible. This may necessitate an aggressive approach where you direct a larger percentage of your salary to paying off debts, slashing your monthly living expenses, or taking on a side job to earn more income.
3. Increase your savings
Most individuals in their 30s have climbed up the career ladder and are earning larger incomes. But with a bigger salary comes the obvious temptation of spending more.
Resist that temptation, and save more instead.
Here’s one tip that can help you avoid the “lifestyle creep” (spending more when you earn more): structure your monthly personal savings amount as a percentage and not a fixed dollar amount.
For instance, let’s say that based on your personal budget, you would like to save 20% of your income every month. On a $,3000 salary, 20% would amount to $600. In your 30s, when you’re earning a higher income of say $5,000, 20% would equate to $1,000.
In this way, you’re pegging your savings amount to your salary and ensuring that you’re saving more when you earn more.
4. Put more towards your retirement
While retirement might have seemed a long, long way into the future when you started your working life, that time is drawing closer as you progress into the next decade of life.
By now, you should know the importance of starting to save for retirement early. The good news is that starting in your 30s still provides you with plenty of time to take advantage of the power of compounding interest.
Based on the current retirement age in Singapore (age 62), you still have about 30 years of retirement saving ahead of you. And if we take into account that the average life expectancy in Singapore is around 82 years, you still have a lot of life to live.
Your 30s are typically your prime earning years, and it’s a good idea to seriously consider putting more towards your retirement funds during this stage of your life.
Some options include topping up your CPF contributions, putting money into long-term investments, or using endowment plans as one of the tools to save for the future.
5. Consider getting life insurance
You may be earning more or living a much more comfortable lifestyle in your 30s… but how can you ensure that your loved ones would be taken care of if something unfortunate happens to you?
You can cement your family’s financial comfort and security by insuring yourself. That way, if something unexpected happens, such as an early death or a total permanent disability that impairs your ability to earn an income, there is a financial cushion for your loved ones.
How much life insurance you require depends on your personal and financial situation.
If you think that life insurance is too expensive, that is a myth. While whole life policies with cash values built into them can be pricey, particularly for a high sum assured, there is a more affordable option which is term life insurance.
Term insurance can offer high coverage for death and total permanent disability at more affordable premium rates. What’s more, term life also offers flexibility as you do not have to commit to the policy for your entire life.
Instead, you could choose to insure yourself for a higher amount during your high income years or during a period where you have more dependants. Term insurance allows you to terminate or renew, as you desire, depending on your life situation.
6. Set savings goals for short or medium term expenses
Your 30s will likely have you experiencing an influx of major life milestones. You could purchase your first home and have to save for renovations and furnishings. You could grow your family and welcome children into the world. Or maybe you’d like to celebrate a milestone birthday in a special way.
So aside from saving for the long term and your golden years, it would also be prudent to begin thinking about your short and medium term goals, and what finances you need for those moments.
Having a savings goal can motivate you to stick to a savings plan, and also drive you closer to living the kind of lifestyle you aspire to.
If you’ve bumbled through your 20s without much direction, perhaps your 30s is a prime opportunity to assess your life goals and how better management of your money can help you reach those goals.
7. Build assets, not liabilities
It seems like a simple piece of advice, but it’s important to live within your means.
For many 30-somethings, this stage of life means the introduction of more financial obligations. Living within your means can help prevent your financial liabilities from ballooning.
A common financial liability in your 30s could be growing consumer debt, something which has a high cost on your financial well-being.
Be cognizant of how much you are earning, and how much you’re spending. The bigger the gap between the two, the better.
You can also help yourself by building more assets during this time of your life. You can incorporate some of the tips we’ve mentioned here such as growing your savings and setting aside funds for retirement.
Getting adequate life insurance is another prudent move that can help protect your financial future.
8. Consider getting professional financial advice
Your 20s might’ve been easier to navigate in terms of finances. You likely had less financial obligations, only had to manage one or two bank accounts and a handful of bills, and didn’t have any dependants.
Being an adult in your 30s can be very much different. You may have to handle financial planning not just for yourself, but also for your family’s future. You could have multiple debts to service such as a mortgage and a car loan.
Don’t let the complexity of your financial situation overwhelm you. Having a professional financial advisor take a look at your overall finances and provide advice could be invaluable.
They can help you identify financial gaps, better manage your savings and investments, and generally improve your financial health.
9. Spend better, not necessarily more
Leave those days of frivolous spending behind you. As you go into your 30s, take the time to assess what really makes you happy.
Some studies have shown that money spent on experiences, not things, are more valuable and beneficial. It is believed that “over time, people’s satisfaction with the things they bought went down, whereas their satisfaction with experiences they spent money on went up.”
So even as you’re protecting your and your family’s financial future, don’t forget that life is meant to be lived!
Align how you spend your money with what is valuable to you and makes you happy on a personal level. We suggest putting some of your savings towards experiences that make you happy so that you can create memories that last.
Our product offerings at SingLife can help you stay financially fit in your 30s and beyond. Learn more at singlife.com.