Financial Advice: 8 Things You Should Know by 30

For many people, being in the ’20-something’ mindset is an excuse to make fun (sometimes poor) financial decisions. While turning 30 is not necessarily significant, socially speaking we are expected to ‘have our sh*t together’ by this age. A lot of people will equate that to reaching the next milestone in life, like getting married and starting a family.

These milestones can be reached easier when our finances are sorted out. On a solid foundation, your lives can be built more securely. Here are 8 financial things to sort out as you turn 30.

1. You Should Know Whether to Rent or Buy

Your choice of shelter is something every 30-year-old needs to sort out. Which is better, to rent or to buy a home? The answer to this question is as complex as you can imagine, and there is no one-size-fits-all answer – despite Uncle Bob’s insistence that “it’s always good to purchase property”.

buy or rent house

Both renting and buying property can be a good economical decision, depending on your situation.

If you Choose to Buy

Some aspects to consider include the housing bubble situation (are property prices in your area hyper-inflated?) to your own long-term plan at the location itself (do you foresee yourself moving?). There are many other aspects to consider, which you can read about here.

If you choose to buy, make sure you can afford the extra costs involved in being a homeowner. These include insurance costs, repair costs, remodelling costs and property taxes.

Keep an emergency fund ready to take care of unexpected costs, such as a sudden pest infestation or the accidentally broken window.

If you Choose to Rent

If you choose to rent, make sure that your rent and the rate of rental increase will not exceed 30% of your take home salary, the general rule of thumb to maximum rental contribution.

While you can save money on a lot of homeowners’ costs, you will not end up with any asset in return.

So what should you do? If you would like to know which makes more economic sense in the long run, it is worthwhile to utilise a rent vs buy calculator.

2. Living Paycheck to Paycheck

You might live paycheck to paycheck, or know many people who do. Somehow, being broke by the end of the month has been portrayed by popular media as something normal to go through. You know which ones we’re talking about – Lena Dunham’s Girls, we are looking at you.

Lliving paycheck to paycheck is definitely not ideal as a 30-year-old. It is easy to get sucked into the sweet, temporary relief provided by credit cards and payday loans.

So what should you do?

  • If you don’t earn a lot to begin with, start with a comprehensive, honest look at where your money has gone and is going.
  • Be prepared to ruthlessly cut out things that are not necessary.
  • If you have already trimmed your budget and still have no disposable income by the end of the month, you need to look for a better-paying job, or get a side hustle (read further down this list).

3. Have an Emergency Fund

That brings us to the subject of emergency funds. Have you heard the phrase, the only constant thing in life is change? Life is unpredictable. Despite the best of preparation, something will go wrong – and it will always cost money to fix.

Your car might break down at the most inconvenient of times, you might suffer random allergies that mysteriously developed, or your dog might require an emergency trip to the vet because he ate your hidden chocolate stash (poor Fido).

flat tyre emergency

So what should you do?

Err… start saving? And remember that having access to emergency funds in liquid form (ie cash) is a must for everyone. If you don’t have an emergency fund right now, start with a $1000 goal.

4. Tackle that Debt

It’s not uncommon to have debt, especially student loan debt; 7 out of 10 carry debt after they graduate. It is also not uncommon to have credit card debt or be forced to take payday loans to make ends meet by the end of the month. Both of these have horrible interest rates.

According to Creditcards.com, the average credit card interest is 15%. Payday loans, on the other hand, are on a whole other level. Idaho payday lenders charge a whopping 582% in annual interest rates.

Sadly, the financial mechanisms in place right now make it expensive for poor people to get out of debt.

So what should you do?

Popular finance guru Dave Ramsay advocates the debt snowball method where you plan and pay off the smallest debt amount first, then pay off the next smallest debt amount, and so on.

5. Diversify Your Income

If you are seeking to be proactive with your savings and getting out of debt plan, you should seriously consider having more than one form of income. Welcome to the world of side hustling, where the freelancer economy is not only alive, but also booming.

There are plenty of ways to make money on the side. In fact, there are so many that you’ll have to sit down and pick only one or two to focus on. Some people find success in freelance writing, while for others the gold is in freelance designing. People do everything from dog-walking to house-sitting to queue-standing.

So what should you do?

Look at lists of side hustles that are easy and cheap to start (here’s one list). Zero in on a few potentials, then start offering those services to everybody you know.

After a few months, do an analysis and drop the side hustles that are not making you enough money; focus on the one (or ones) that do. Do all you can to better yourself in this field then you can charge higher for your expertise.

6. Cost Analysis: Making vs Buying Food

Food is one expense category you can’t ignore – everyone needs food to survive. While every other financial platform tends to advise individuals to prepare their own food, I believe that in some instances, it might be more cost-effective to buy food instead.

A cost analysis is needed to determine which is better for you. Here’s how to do it.

For example, if your hourly rate is greater than the amount of money saved in food preparation, then it makes more economic sense to outsource this chore and buy food instead. Say your side hustle is making you $100 an hour, and cooking a chicken takes 2 hours, it would probably make more sense to use that time to earn the $200 instead of trying to save the worth of one meal.

Note however, that for the majority of us, it makes more sense to prepare our own food. Economically speaking, most of us cannot afford to exclusively buy pre-prepared healthy foods 100% of the time.

On top of that, most pre-prepared cheap food have hidden medical “costs” that you should factor in as well – for example, a diet with too much sugar can lead to Type II diabetes. Too much processed meat takes you one step closer to a whole range of cardiovascular-related diseases.

So what should you do?

Learn frugal cooking strategies – slow cooking, meal prepping, and a mainly vegetarian diet does not have steep learning curves. BudgetBytes is a good resource to start.

Additionally, cooking in bulk saves a lot of time. If you can make 10 meals in 2 hours, then stow them in the fridge for the rest of the week, you will have plenty more hours in a week to dedicate to earning side incomes while not compromising your meal qualities.

7. Choosing a Life Partner

Can a life partner become a financial decision? Yes, definitely, no doubt about it. Money is a very common reason for fights between couples – according to a 2014 survey, 70% of couples fight about money more than any other issue.

We’re not saying you should dump The One if he/she came with high student loans and a bad credit score. However, it’s not something you should ignore. It will affect the rate you will be able to get financially stable enough to start a family, to buy a home, among many other life-altering decisions.

So what should you do?

If you have a partner, have a real, honest talk about money together, on topics such as:

  • What is their attitude to money management?
  • Does your spending pattern align?
  • Does he/she have an uncontrollable shopping habit you cannot afford to sustain?
  • How about health – will they require medical planning in the future? If yes, how soon?

Here are some tips on how to discuss finances with your significant other.

8. Why You Should Pay Taxes

Every contributing member of the society has an obligation to pay their taxes. Not only is tax avoidance a serious offence, but morally-speaking, lost revenue will directly impact the country’s development in the long run.

No one is truly happy to pay taxes, especially if they have an unfavorable view of the tax system. Regardless, everyone grew up benefiting from contributions made by the tax collected from the generations before us. Had a public school education? Benefited. Walked through public parks? Same. Drove through highways? Ditto.

So what should you do?

It’s only right for us to benefit the next generation by paying our dues in taxes, but if you need more convincing, here is a more in-depth response to why you should pay your taxes. Here are ways to make tax filing easy.

Conclusion

The sad fact of adulthood is this: if you don’t follow these financial tips and advice, no one else will do it for you. There are no penalties, no ‘you’re grounded’ threats to force you to make better financial decisions and habits.

It can be a hard journey for some people, especially if you stay in a less-than-supportive environment with little incentive to be financially successful. That is why self-improvement is called self-improvement.

We will end with this: Money is a tool. Some people convince themselves that they ‘aren’t ever going to be good at it’, so they give up on financial knowledge and money management. This is a lie, because humans are defined by our ability to use tools. You can learn it, and excel in handling it. Now get out there and show money who’s boss. Be masters of your finances.

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