If the blogosphere is correct, 30 is the new 20.
Even if that is true, when it comes to finances – it doesn’t mean you should keep making the mistakes you made in your twenties.
Once you hit dirty thirty you’ll want to make sure you’ve mastered certain aspects of personal finance.
We’ve detailed a few below.
1. Automation is your friend
We have a certain amount of reserves in our cognitive wells. Making smart financial decisions is less about willpower and denying yourself nice things than it is about taking away the responsibility of making numerous financial decisions every day.
Instead, your focus should be harnessed towards building a SYSTEM that doesn’t make you think. Do all your thinking on the front-end, about what the system is going to look like and where money will go and then let it take care of saving/investing for you.
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This means you have to come up with a custom solution that serves your needs. One person might love traveling and set a goal of saving $200 every month towards fulfilling their wanderlust; someone else might really value nice shoes and want to allocate money towards that.
The other thing you’ll want to take care of is your bills. Set up automated transfers for everything possible; electricity, car or phone payments can all be set up to be paid automatically. That’s hassle-free finance that frees up time for more important things.
2. Understand compound interest
This one is important because of the change in perspective that comes with figuring out how compound interest affects you.
As you enter your thirties, you’ll realize that time is a non-renewable resource. You can’t make up for time but you can definitely take advantage of it.
What is compound interest? Albert Einstein called it the ‘eighth wonder of the world’ but it’s essentially interest…on interest. If I loan you money then I expect you to pay it back plus interest. That’s simple interest; simple because it happens just once. With compound interest, interest is paid in each of the “compounding periods”.
Because interest is paid out multiple times, a funny and awesome thing happens as time passes. The rate at which that money grows increases. It’s like a car that’s slowly picking up speed on a long highway.
Here’s a basic example of how compound interest works.
A 25-year old can save $5,000 every year for 20 years (that’s $100,000 total). If he invests that money and earns some sort of return, said 25-year old could more than double his money!
Assuming a yearly return of 7% (about the long-term average of the S&P 500) then he would have nearly $250,000 at the end of 20 years…hm.
So compound interest means you end up with more, but when you save is also a huge determinant in how much you end up with. So a 25-year old that starts saving at the same time as a 35-year old will end up with much more for retirement (assuming they both retire at the same age).
3. Everything can be negotiated
It’s easy to fall into the thinking that just things won’t change because “that’s just the way they’ve always been”.
On the contrary, you have more ability to affect the outcome of events than you know.
Here’s what I mean. When’s the last time you called up your cell phone, insurance or credit card provider and asked for a discount?
Look, it’s all about how you ask and how you arm yourself with solid info before you call. Companies know that it’s easier tomake money off a retained customer than it is to go find a new one. It’s that simple. It costs money to acquire new customers and most companies will try to do their best to keep you on the hook. You can use that to your advantage.
You could ask to get your annual credit card fee waived. You could call your mobile service provider and ask if there are any cheaper plans (that aren’t being advertised) that you could switch to. If you get a weird fee from your bank – just call them up and ask them to remove it. Many times they’ll just do it, no questions asked!
If you did this once a year, you could save anywhere from $25-100 a month. You could buy a lot of tacos with an extra $25-100/month.
The other part to negotiating has to do with work. Always negotiate your salary when you start a new job. Always. Again, you have to arm yourself with the information that will help you succeed. (You don’t just go in and ask for more – you have to negotiate). The idea behind this is that negotiating a high salary obviously translates into greater wealth – every month you are benefitting from the negotiated increase. Amazing.
4. Have an emergency fund
This is majorly important! Some studies cite that only 1 in 3 millennials have enough money in the bank for a surprise car repair or unscheduled trip to the E.R.
The problem is that a single large, unplanned expense can send you into tailspin of debt for a long, long time. You need that financial cushion.
Bake that into your automated savings and your future self will thank you for it. Aim to save at least 6 months’ worth of living expenses. Whether you unexpectedly lose your job, break your leg or rear-end someone on the I-94 you’ll at least be covered financially.
5. Pay off debt
While compound interest can be a boon to savers, it can also be a hindrance to those in debt. Compound interest can also work against you. If you owe a ton of money in credit card bills and don’t pay it off in time you are charged a fee (interest). If you don’t take action, then you are penalized again (interest on interest). Let this happen enough times and you’ll quickly find yourself in an unpalatable situation.
Live beneath your means and you’ll be a happy camper. Take every measure to pay off debt as quickly as you can. If, for some reason, you’re unable to pay, the worst thing you can do is to avoid the situation. Better would be to call up your creditors and try to work out a solution that benefits both parties. People are willing to work with you – especially when it comes to money.
Remember, everything is negotiable.
Your money is the rest of your life. Learn these 5 things before you turn thirty and you’ll have a strong foundation on which to amass future wealth.
Go forth and be rich!