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Who thought you would be researching investment strategies at this point in life?
When you reach your thirties, the game begins to change when it comes to your finances.
You’re no longer in the joy ride of your twenties, where retirement seemed like a far away imaginary life.
Your thirties are the time to get serious about building a solid financial foundation for the rest of your life.
Don’t fret if you’re a little bit behind, it’s not too late to get going. Time really is still on your side.
Here are 7 things to know about investing in your 30s.
1. Build an emergency fund
Look, life happens to all of us. A famous boxer probably said it the best:
“Everyone has a plan ’till they get punched in the mouth.” – Mike Tyson
As much as we all hate to think about it, you could lose your job, your car could break down, your dog could get sick…okay, you get the idea.
So the most important thing you can do before researching all the investment strategies on the planet is to set up a savings account and keep some extra cash in it. This is going to be there just in case of emergency.
So just how much should you put in there? There is no one right answer for everyone, but a good starting point is to have at least six months of living expenses stocked away. If you have a family to support, it might not be a bad idea to make your cushion a little bit more.
One more point about your savings account- make sure you find a bank that offers a good interest rate. The best savings accounts are typically found online (Ally and Discover have good ones), not your regular brick-and-mortar banks.
Since they don’t have as much overhead as regular banks, these guys can pay you a way higher interest rate on your money. Up to ten times higher in a lot of cases. Heed this warning and take our financial advice for 30 somethings. Building an emergency fund is the first investment strategy you can do to secure your future and invest wisely.
2. Establish a routine for retirement saving
Chances are, you probably don’t want to work forever, do you? Of course not.
2010 Census Bureau data showed that 30.8% of people aged 65-69 years old (typical retirement age) were still working either full or part-time jobs. Choosing to depend on Social Security to cover your living expenses during your retirement years just isn’t a smart move.
So that means you should do your 65 year old future self a favor and set up a retirement fund, if you haven’t already done so. One of the best investment strategies for 30 year old is to open an IRA.
You should also be saving via your employer’s retirement savings program; usually a 401(k) or 403(b). To get a feel for how much you should be saving, there are a lot of helpful retirement calculators online that factor in potential retirement ages and desired standard of living. Using one of these tools as a guide will help you understand how much you should be saving each month to meet your retirement goals.
3. Plan separately for major purchases
You’re likely going to be making some major life purchases in your thirties. House, cars, a big wedding. It all can add up pretty quick. Since each goal is so different with respect to their time horizons and amount of money required, it’s helpful to set up separate plans to reach each one.
Once you have your monthly savings amount for each goal, you can cruise on autopilot without worrying about when or even if you will achieve your savings goals.
4. Pay Attention to Fees
Even though your thirties are a little late to get started with saving and investing, remember that you still likely have another thirty or so years of full time work ahead of you. It’s better to start your investing strategies now than to ignore them forever.
If you aren’t doing so already, make sure that you are maxing out your yearly 401(k) and IRA contributions.
Taking advantage of these types of retirement investment accounts gives you some pretty nice tax breaks, which ultimately lets you keep more of your hard earned money in your pocket.
Just as important as maxing out your retirement accounts, you need to hyper vigilant when it comes to the fees you are paying (with respect to both your financial advisor, if you have one, and the fees that your investments themselves cost).
The sneaky thing about fees is that they look so harmless at first because they are such a small percentage of your nest egg, but remember, those fees will be compounding over the next thirty years.
5. Invest in quality life insurance
If anyone in your family is depending on you for future income (read: your kids or your spouse), you need to make sure they are taken care of should something happen to you.
Luckily, life insurance policies for most 30-somethings are very affordable.
A decent policy can help pay off your mortgage and provide assets for your survivors to live off of. Definitely a base that you want to make sure you have covered.
6. Establish a college savings plan for your kid(s)
Let’s face it: college isn’t likely to get any cheaper. Even if you don’t plan on funding your child’s entire education, reducing the burden on them can go a long way not only during their college years, but for many years afterwards.
There are also some pretty sweet tax benefits tied to 529 plans (this is just the official name for a college savings account), depending on what state you live in.
7. Have an estate plan in place
This isn’t a fun investment strategy to talk about, but it’s very important that you have your “affairs in order”, so to speak, even if your health is fine right now.
The default estate plan that everybody has at birth often doesn’t much sense as we get older and have more unique family situations. Go ahead and assume that you need a will in order to make sure your assets are divided how you want them in the event of your death.
And don’t worry- your will is a document that can be updated at any time as your situation changes.
On the topic of estate planning, it might not be a bad idea to check in with your parents on their own estate planning. You should also talk with them about their plans for healthcare and general care as they become older and possibly lose their independence. This responsibility could ultimately fall on you, so it’s best to at least be aware of it.
Time is of the Essence
The best strategy for investing in your 30s is to simply start investing. You can spend more time researching or you can jump on the opportunity to grow your future now.
Your thirties are the time to start getting serious about your financial future. Yes, a lot of people probably still tell you that you are young, but you know that it’s not always going to be that way. Whether you’re still in your twenties or you’re now 35, taking some simple steps today can truly make all the difference for you and your family as you progress toward retirement.
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