If you're into your 30s, are sitting on a pile of debt and have a closet (or living room or kitchen) full of too many things, then -- like me -- you're probably realizing it's time to form some new and better habits.
Are you ready to make a change? Here are some of the most common money mistakes that people make in their 30s — and some great, habit-forming solutions to overcome them.
1. Living beyond your means
Thanks to social media, it's easy to spend too much to have the perfect home or photo-worthy vacations.
That's how you find yourself living beyond your means: overreaching with credit cards and loans to get what you want before you can pay for all of it with cash.
To fix this problem before debt turns into a monster too big to wrangle, it's essential to create a budget and stick to it. I use the free Mint app to help track my spending and pay my bills on time.
Take the time to make a budget, and learn to stick to it by making it into a habit. It's easier than it sounds and will get you out of the debt cycle for good.
2. Not saving for emergencies
I always accepted the fact that emergencies happen, but I didn't own a house or a car, so I didn't have to worry about a leaky roof or a car wreck.
And I never had a true emergency bill, either — until I got an ugly kidney infection while living in Europe. Let's just say that wasn't a fun or cheap experience.
Yes, emergencies really are a thing, even if you don't own much and are healthy as a horse. I got lucky that my parents could help out, but it didn't feel great to ask for help. So, now that I'm a wise 30-something, I've started an emergency fund.
It's not much, but it's growing bit by bit. Every time I’m done paying my monthly bills, I put some of what's left into an emergency savings account at my bank — just in case.
3. Not preparing for your kids' future
Disclaimer: I don't have kids yet, so I focus on paying off my debts before any of them might show up on the scene.
But for those with a kid or two in the van or on the horizon: Post-secondary education is expensive, as you might remember from the last decade or so of paying down your own student debt.
Starting an education savings plan when a kid is young is one of the kindest gifts you can give. Money set aside for school can make the difference between your child beginning adult life with major student loan debt or graduating completely or nearly debt-free.
Upping your saving game can mean having to simplify your vacations (like choosing camping over Disney World) or putting more of your money away instead of getting a new car. But it beats having to cough up the cash for college when your kid turns 18.
4. Not saving for your retirement
You're never too young to begin saving for a great life in your retirement years.
The earlier you start, the more money you'll earn on your deposits due to compound interest on your savings.
Consider using an automated investing app to grow your retirement money faster. You might try Wealthsimple, an automated investing service that helps you build a portfolio and then adjusts it for you to protect your money whenever markets turn rocky.
Hello beach retirement!
5. Avoiding 'money talk' with your partner
I just got married, so this one is close to my heart. The wedding planning was a beast, and we had to talk very seriously about our money for the first time.
Too many couples avoid discussing money until they absolutely have to. But keep in mind that money is the primary cause of relationship stress.
Finding a way to deal with spending or budgeting issues together may be a bit uncomfortable at first, but it’s essential to a harmonious and honest relationship. So, make it a habit to have positive discussions about money on at least a weekly basis.
Formulating financial goals together is a great bonding experience — it will keep you both excited and energized about saving for your future and all the great things in it!