As a single person in my 30s, I make all of the mistakes: with dating, my career, whether to order guacamole or queso (always queso, duh), and of course, money decisions. Figuring out what to do with my money and how to set myself up for success in the future can feel daunting. Most days I feel like I have a head start, because I have a parent that has been drilling the importance of saving into me since my first allowance payment. And as a result, I have had over $5,000 in a savings account since I was 19. Even so, I make money mistakes. So when MSN posted the Six Common Money Mistakes People Make in Their 30s, I was curious to see if I would get a passing grade. So come. Take my hand. We’ll do it together.
Six money mistakes in your 30s
1. Carrying credit card debt: If you can’t pay off the balance in full each month, you’re making a big mistake. Even if you always pay the minimum balance, you will end up paying over $1,000 in interest in the long run. Live within your means – if you can’t afford to pay the bill every month, you need to reevaluate your budget. I pay my Southwest Credit Card in full every month, though every once in a while I have to dip into my savings to do so. Grade: A-
2. Skipping diversifying income: MSN says that putting all of your eggs in one basket – only earning money from one source/employer – is a huge misstep because it isn’t a sure thing. You could get laid off or the company could go out of business. A much better approach is to diversify your income by starting a side business or freelancing. I freelance semi-regularly, but not enough to support myself. I have let some relationships fall by the wayside since I am employed full-time, so if anything WERE to happen to my job, I would have to scramble to get steady income. Grade: C+
3. Wasting money keeping up appearances: Appearing successful to those around you can come in the form of a house, car or wardrobe you really cannot afford. Putting your money in depreciating (car, furnishings, clothes) or slowly appreciating (real estate) possessions is a waste – spend that cash on paying off debts and saving for the future. My 2011 Kia Soul and students loans are paid off, and I live within my means, leaving enough for a splurge every once in a while. Grade: A
4. Avoiding making estate preparations: Even in your 30s, anything can happen from automobile accidents to illnesses like cancer. MSN says, “not having a plan in place, such as a will and life insurance policy, that will cover catastrophes is a major disservice to the key people in your life”. I have a basic life insurance policy through my employer that will pay my yearly salary to my beneficiary, and have named beneficiaries on all of my financial accounts. I do not have a living will in the event something happens to me – but I also don’t own property, have children or any other major investments, so I think that’s okish . Grade: C
5. Overspending on children: Similar to keeping up appearances, many parents fall into the trap of thinking their child has to own the latest gadget, attend the best summer camp or try all of the sports. Instead of going overboard, choose only a few things your child is really interested in and put them into the budget. I have zero kids, but I am the world’s greatest aunt. I spend money on the ankle biters three a year: Christmas (ridiculous amounts of monies), spring (a few new outfits and shoes their mom wouldn’t buy), and birthdays (a couple of toys). Grade: B+
6. Putting off saving for retirement: I know, retirement feels forever away. Like 30 years away, away. So why worry about it now, right? According to MSN, “The earlier you start saving, the more years you give compound interest to work in your favor. For example, $1,000 invested in the stock market at seven percent interest at age 30 gives you $10,677 at age 65. Investing that same $1,000 at age 45 gives you only $3,870 at age 65. Waiting is the equivalent of throwing away $6,807.” I started seriously investing in stocks at age 29. It’s not a ton, because stocks feel a lot like throwing money in a garbage disposal that may or may not turn on, but it’s steadily growing. I could be more knowledgeable in this area for my own benefit. Grade: B
My overall grade: B. I have a few things I need to work on, but overall, I’d say I am doing pretty good!