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Planning your financial future

Personal finance in your 30s

If you're in your 30s, there are some financial priorities that can help you get a head start on your future. Here's our suggested checklist.

In your 30s, you are establishing your financial brand. Just like your personal brand, your financial brand will determine your opportunities. Don't squander it! Below are some financial strategies for best ways to save money as you build a financial brand you can be proud of.

Financial planning fundamentals for your 30s

Review your budget each month

A good budget can be a financial life map. In addition to planning for day-to-day expenses, your budget should include line items for future goals like travel, home ownership and retirement. Need a system? Search online for “budgeting tools” to find a tool that works for you.

Monitor your credit score

At this time of life, you may be purchasing your first home, starting your own business, or pursuing an advanced degree. All these goals usually involve using some type of credit. That's why it's important to continuously monitor and protect your credit. You are entitled to a free credit report each year from each of the three reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, and Transunion). Go to to request your reports.

Budgeting tips & essentials for this decade

Repay student loans

If you are still carrying student loan debt, make paying it off your highest financial priority. Avoid taking on new debt if possible and eliminate or postpone discretionary spending in exchange for paying the debt off early.

Make the commitment to save for retirement

Retirement may still be a long time off. Use that time to your advantage. There's no such thing as “too early” when it comes to saving for retirement. Understand and maximize the retirement benefits available through your employer. Questions to ask:

  • What type of plans does your employer offer?
  • When do you become fully vested?
  • What does your employer contribute for your retirement?
  • What do you need to contribute to earn 100% of the employer's contribution?
  • When you leave employment, can you roll over your retirement plan?

Increase your emergency fund

As your income and expenses increase, so should your emergency fund. You are aiming for three to six times your monthly income.

Use your credit cards wisely

Just like a budget is a tool, so is a credit card. Using credit is not bad - unless you abuse it. Strive to pay off all your balances each month. Choose credit cards that offer the best value, either in the form of the lowest interest rate or the best reward program.

Establish relationships with insurance and financial professionals

As your income grows and you have more responsibilities, consider purchasing life and disability insurance either through your employer sponsored plan or with an individual policy. A financial professional can also help you determine the most advantageous wealth accumulation strategies as you have more discretionary income to save and invest.

How to manage your money better in your 30s

Contribute the maximum amount allowable to your retirement accounts

Each year the IRS declares the maximum contribution allowable to retirement plans. If possible, contribute the maximum amount allowable while planning for retirement in your 30s.

Contribute to a ROTH IRA

A ROTH IRA can be an additional way to save for retirement. A very attractive tax advantage of a ROTH IRA is that qualified withdrawals are usually tax-free.

Money management tips for any age

Strive to save 30% or more of your income

10% for retirement, 10% for your emergency fund, and 10% for large purchases or vacations.

Start building an emergency fund

Strive to save three to six times your monthly income.

Be mindful of your housing to income ratio

Try to limit your housing expense to no more than 28% of your gross household income.

Watch your debt to income ratio

Try to limit your total debt (mortgage, car loan, credit cards, student loans) to 36% of your gross household income.

Keep your credit card balance to limit ratio under control

To keep your credit score as high as possible, don't let your balance exceed 30% of your credit limit.



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All Learning Center articles are general summaries that can be used when considering your financial future at various life stages. The information presented is for educational purposes and is meant to supplement other information specific to your situation. It is not intended as investment advice and does not necessarily represent the opinion of Protective or its subsidiaries.

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