Ask the Money Coach: How Do I Make Turning 30 (Financially) Fabulous

Let’s face it. Most people don’t have access to a financial advisor. And if they do, those financial advisors may not take into account the human side of managing money – like how spending, saving, and stressing about it actually makes us feel.

Cue the Nav.it money coaches.* We’ve long been helping people in the Nav.it money app, but now you can write in to our money coaches.

Money coaches are here to answer your money questions, including what should be on your bucket list before you hit 30.

Dear Money Coach,

I turn 30 in a couple of years and am making a list of all the things I want to do before I hit the big 3-0. On the top of my list? Swim with sharks, learn another language, and go to Paris. Buh, uh, I have no idea what things I should tick off with my money.

My parents have each filed separate bankruptcies, and I am not interested in TikTok tips.

So I am asking the money coach: what should I do with my money before I turn 30?

Should I worry about buying a house? Should I start investing? So far, I’ve just been buying pandemic sweats and learning how to craft.

-Turning 30!


Dear Turning 30!,

Happy almost 30! I had crazy adventures in my 20s, but I really learned who I was in my 30s. It’s a great decade. I also love that you’re planning for it!

Your 20s are all about life experience, growing professionally, and setting up the basics of your financial life.

Start by asking yourself:

  • Have I built a good income base?
  • Do I know what I like to do professionally?

Income is the key to wealth generation over time, whether active or passive, so figuring out how you will make money in your 20s sets you up for life.

Ask yourself, have I saved an emergency fund with six months of monthly expenses?

I’m not trying to quash your fun here. This is so you can afford to swim with sharks, go to Paris, or take off for three months and still cover your expenses. Emergency funds are crucial to freedom and allow you to check off all items on your bucket list from a place of financial security.

Have you paid off high-interest debt?

Credit cards only drag your net worth and credit score down. Paying off your credit card balances in your 20s and setting up good habits, like always paying off credit cards monthly, is vital to credit success.

Here, you can read more about strategies for paying down your credit card debt.

Do you have student loan debt?

Calculating the burden of your student loans and how you can potentially pay that off sooner rather than later is helpful as you grow your income. This is especially valuable if you want to put your money into other uses like investing and home buying. Consolidating student loans into the lowest possible interest rate also gives you a huge advantage over time. Check out our partners at Juno.

Finally, you should absolutely be investing by the time you are 30!

No, it’s NEVER too late to start!

The first place to start is with your employer: do you have a 401k and a match? If you can, always take the match; that’s your money waiting to be invested for you. If you have also already established a monthly savings habit, you’re on your way to wealth generation! Once you’ve funded your emergency fund, that savings can be directly placed in investments every month. Mutual funds, ETFs, cryptoreal estate investing, and more. The world is your oyster for growing wealth and diversifying your passive income. Remember, time is your friend when it comes to growing wealth. The earlier you invest, the longer you have to reap a higher return.

Now, home buying by the time you’re 30?

Honestly, that is totally based on your money journey. Some people know where they will live for an extended period, like the idea of home ownership and all the responsibilities that come with it, or like managing property as a form of income and investment. Home buying might be right for them! Others do not want to live in one place for extended periods, don’t like managing property or renters, or don’t like the idea of a mortgage. They may not have a problem renting and think it frees them up to invest in other things like entrepreneurship or the stock market. Take the time to ask yourself what you want from your life right now; does it imply stability and financial responsibility?

Here’s what I did in my 20’s

In my 20s, I lived in eight cities and six countries, so home buying was not on my radar. I didn’t buy my first home until I was in my 30s when I moved to a city where I planned to stay for an extended time. However, in my 20s, I did know I wanted to grow my wealth. I had the option to buy a home if my life took me to a more stable existence. That made me focus on saving and investing for a decade, which was the money I later used for a down payment.

Basics of home buying

The rule of thumb is placing a 20% down payment on a house to help you financially afford it and get better mortgage rates. Some people advocate for cash purchases to avoid being tied to a mortgage, but that’s a decision you should discuss with your financial advisor.

I should note that home buying is not a joke.

Obtaining a mortgage is a complicated and potentially stressful experience. There are always more unforeseen expenses you have to accommodate at closing, like homeowners insurance, taxes, and any necessary house updates.

There are also maintenance costs associated with homes over time. Yards, gutters, paint, and plumbing all have a maintenance cost in time or money. The upside is that you own your house and have a tangible asset that hopefully accrues in value. The downside is that you are tied to a responsibility that takes more TLC than they tell you.

If that feels right, owning a home can be a great experience. If it doesn’t feel right, then don’t force yourself into that decision because it seems the trendy thing to do.

Are you feeling ready for 30 yet?

Money goals to have by the time you hit 30

  1. Identify your preferred method to obtain income – both active and passive
  2. Establish an emergency fund
  3. Pay off high-interest debt
  4. Make a plan for your student loans
  5. Invest and diversify your investment!
  6. Assess if home buying is for you

Related Reads

Ask the Money Coach: How to Deal with the Haters

Refinance Your Student Loans with Juno

Net Worth 101

401k Matches Explained in 2 Minutes

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*Just remember, we are NOT your financial advisors, tax advisors, or legal advisors by simply accessing this site.  Everything that you read or interact with on the site is for informational purposes only. You should contact a professional before taking action.

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