Money matters become more complicated as you leave your 20s and take on varied responsibilities.
Once you hit your 30s, you will be more settled in your career, and expected to face the challenges of juggling much more than just student loans and a handful of bills. You could get hitched or have a child (or two!).
Smart financial choices in your 30s will carry forward into your 40s, which is when important decisions related to retirement and your family’s future will come into play. Here are 8 to-dos to help build financial security in your 30s.
REALIGN YOUR WEALTH PLANNING
It is a natural career progression to have income growth in tandem with job promotions or career changes. As they say, with great power comes great responsibilities. With an increase in your income, there will also be increased demands on your expenditure – more taxes to pay, lifestyle quality improvements to be had, and so on. It is important to not let a spike in income affect your journey towards financial wealth. Re-evaluate your budget according to your changes in income and realign your action plan towards your goals. Prioritise the things that matter most, like protection and wealth building while still maintaining your saving habit.
STEP UP YOUR RETIREMENT PLANNING
Putting 15% of your income aside for retirement savings would be the ideal target. Here’s an exercise that can help you: draw up a budget which projects how much you might be spending in your post-retirement years, then start saving up accordingly. While the government-mandated EPF was put in place to help you reach that goal, it would be good to consider other retirement savings options such as PRS.
MONITOR AND IMPROVE YOUR CREDIT
In your 30s, keep an eye on your credit card expenditure and pay off your balance regularly. Remember that having small balances spread across multiple cards can also hurt your overall credit score. This is why it’s not advisable to split up purchases using different credit cards. Try to clear all those small balances and hold on to one or two cards which you can use regularly.
BE TIMELY WITH DEBT REPAYMENTS
Prioritise your debt repayment. Service and pay off your loans on time to keep a good credit rating, which affects your loan worthiness. A good way to do this is to consider “good” debt versus “bad” debt. A student loan can be considered good debt due to the nature of its low interest, and is not a cause for concern for your credit rating if you routinely pay the monthly installments. Bad debts such as credit card debts affect your ability to take out a home loan or a personal loan. It is debt that is best paid off on time or earlier than scheduled, to avoid unnecessary roadblocks in your financial journey.
SET UP A COLLEGE FUND FOR YOUR KIDS
Your 30s is an age when you would most likely be having children or raising them. This is also the ideal time to start planning for their future needs, specifically for their education. Tapping into your own retirement savings to pay for their education will be a poor choice in the long term. Most financial institutions have options for various education savings plans, and you can also enlist the help of a financial planner. Do your homework to see what would best fit your needs, and start as early as possible. Read our take on saving for your child’s education here.
INCREASE YOUR EMERGENCY FUND BALANCE
This is a habit you should have hopefully started in your 20s . In your 30s, you will likely take on financial responsibility for more people than yourself – your spouse, your children or your parents. In that regard, it is important to increase your emergency fund. Make it a point to have at least 6 months’ worth of income in your emergency fund, so that you will be able to support your family in the event of a job loss.
ADJUST YOUR INSURANCE COVERAGE AND BUY LIFE INSURANCE
Similar to point 5, the purpose of updating your insurance coverage is for the benefit of the people who depend on you. Ensure that your existing life protection plan is sufficient to support your dependents if an unexpected event happens. A life insurance plan will cost less when you purchase it at an earlier age, and helps provide financial security for your loved ones. Find a plan that changes according to your needs and life phases: A-LifeLink
DIVERSIFY AND REBALANCE YOUR INVESTMENTS
In your 30s, you would have more financial stability and the ability to invest in different investment options compared to your 20s. Begin diversifying your investments across different portfolios. Look into unit trusts, stocks and bonds or investment-linked solutions that can help you maximise your money and make the most out of it. Diversifying into different options helps to minimise risk and damage in the case that one type of investment is adversely affected by external factors.
In your 40s: If you are at the peak of your health, you would have roughly 15-20 years to go until you retire. If you have children of school-going age in your 40s, you may face the conundrum of saving for their tertiary education while saving for your retirement. This is a time to consolidate your resources and focus on eliminating liabilities that could hamper your financial journey.
PAY OFF DEBT
Try to get rid of any debt where possible by the time you’re approaching retirement. This is especially true for high-interest debt such as credit card balances. List out any other personal loans or remaining non-mortgage debt you might have and take steps to clear them. This is a time when you may have to temporarily put a lower priority on savings.
JUGGLE SAVING FOR COLLEGE AND RETIREMENT
It’s incredibly helpful to maintain the saving habits you cultivated in your 30s. Keep college funds and personal savings separate, and make it a point to never reach into your retirement reserves to finance your child’s education in the long term. Try to sustain your emergency fund for any unexpected personal or family needs.
BEEF UP YOUR INVESTMENTS
At this stage of life you can afford to make slightly riskier investments compared to those who are already retired or just starting on their careers. Consider whether your priority is to see your money grow or for you to be able to access that cash when needed. Then plan your investments accordingly, and remember to keep a consistently diverse portfolio to spread out the risk.
MAX OUT YOUR EARNINGS
This is an important time to maximise your earning power. With years of working experience under your belt, don’t be afraid to ask for raises. Monitor your salary relative to the expected standards in your industry or look out for senior leadership or consulting positions in the market. Do consider that the older and higher-paid you are, the longer it takes for you to be hired for new jobs. Keep up to date with new technology and pick up relevant skills that can keep your résumé fresh.