May 1, 20238 Wise Money Moves to Make in Your 30s 

Much of your twenties is spent figuring out who you are and where you’re going in life. As you progress into your thirties, more pieces of that puzzle begin to fall into place. Perhaps you’re planning to get married or start a family. Maybe specific career goals are on your mind. Regardless, it’s often a period of significant personal growth.  

Achieving many of these milestones also takes preparation. And your financial situation will often play a critical role. Building a solid financial foundation should be a priority, as it will pave the way for what’s next in life.  

Use the following eight tips to strengthen your financial position and lay the groundwork for the goals you hope to achieve. 

Control Your Spending 

People often find themselves advancing in their careers in their thirties. Promotions and new responsibilities tend to boost your personal income. The challenge with earning more is that you’ll often start spending more. It’s so common that it has a name – lifestyle inflation.  

Your thirties are a period when managing your finances responsibly is crucial. However, it can be challenging when your friends and colleagues also earn more – and reward themselves with nice cars, expensive homes, and luxurious trips. That’s not to say you can’t reward yourself too. But the overlying theme here should be “spend less than you make.”  

The easiest way to ensure your spending doesn’t derail your future goals is through budgeting. 

Create & Follow a Budget 

You may have survived your twenties without a budget, but your financial life tends to get much busier in your thirties. Whether you’re married, have children, or manage a mortgage – knowing where your money is going monthly is paramount. 

To utilize a budget effectively, make sure you track, balance, and learn from it. 

  • Track: Monitor your transactions and keep tabs on all your monthly incomes and expenses.  
  • Balance: Schedule time on your calendar to balance your budget monthly. This step will help you determine if your budget is realistic and sustainable. 
  • Learn: Don’t beat yourself up if you overspent during the month. Use these instances as teachable moments by identifying what happened and planning how to avoid similar issues in the future. 

Read Why You Should Try the 50/30/20 Budget to learn about a tried-and-true budget plan.  

Automate Your Savings 

Between added responsibilities at home and work, time starts to become a luxury. One of the best ways to ensure your finances stay the course is to automate your savings. Two popular tools at the credit union include payroll distributions and automatic transfers. 

  • Payroll Distributions: A specific amount or percentage you set is drawn from each paycheck and transferred to the account(s) of your choice. 
  • Automatic Transfers: Similar to payroll distributions, but instead of the transfer occurring on payday, it can take place on the date of your choice (for example, the first of the month). 

Read 8 Tips If You’re Living Paycheck-to-Paycheck for details on automating your savings.  

Shed the Credit Card Debt 

When money is tight in your twenties, it’s easy to rely on credit cards. But if you’re still carrying high balances in your thirties, that debt is dead weight. It eats into your spending money and steals from your savings.  

Consider using a low-rate debt consolidation loan or credit card balance transfer to eliminate any high-interest debt you owe. It’s an amazing feeling when that weight is lifted off your shoulders.  

Want to know more about balance transfers? Check out What Is a Balance Transfer? 

Set Up an Emergency Fund 

As your monthly income increases, it’s wise to start putting aside money into an emergency fund. Try to accumulate between three to six months’ worth of living expenses.  

Life is full of surprises, including costly ones. Having an emergency fund helps in two significant ways: 

  • It provides money upfront for unexpected expenses, such as car or home repairs, medical bills, etc., without derailing your budget or financial goals. 
  • It prevents you from relying on more expensive short-term financing options like payday loans. The fees and extra costs associated with these loans can haunt your budget for months. 

Read 5 Ways to Build Your Emergency Funds for some great savings ideas! 

Focus on Your Credit Score 

As you age, every dollar you earn holds more value. That’s because your expenses are likely to rise too. For example, when you start a family, you’ll go from baby items and daycare to extracurricular activities and college-savings plans in an instant.  

In addition, you’ll likely purchase cars or even a home during this time. An excellent credit score can significantly reduce the amount you pay in interest on these loans – freeing up crucial funds that can be spent on your growing family or other obligations. 

Make it a habit to monitor your credit report and consistently work to improve your score. Also, learn 7 Habits of People with High Credit Scores for some inspo! 

Create a Financial Roadmap 

Your thirties are often filled with numerous and significant milestones. Knowing where you’re headed and creating a plan to get there is crucial.  

Take time to craft a roadmap of where you see yourself over the next five to ten years. For example, imagine you plan to purchase a new home and need $30,000 for the down payment. How much will you have to put aside monthly to get there? How long will it take until you’re ready to achieve this goal? 

Speaking of which, we’ve got 5 Tips on Saving for a Mortgage Down Payment that may help you jumpstart your plans.  

Review Your Retirement Plan 

In your twenties, retirement seems like a lifetime away. But it appears much closer once you reach your thirties, especially when you realize how much is necessary to retire comfortably. 

It’s wise to begin meeting with a financial advisor regularly. Create a retirement plan and determine how much you need to set aside monthly. You’ll also want to consider your investment options. For example, while your employer might offer a 401(k) plan, a Roth IRA might make more sense if you’re looking to lower your tax bill in retirement. 

You don’t have to wait until the last minute to come up with a retirement plan. Read Make Your Retirement Money Now for some life-changing advice.  

We’re Here to Help! 

Life in your thirties is an exciting time filled with achievements and possibilities. Whether you’re planning to get married, start or expand your family, launch a business, or grow as a person, your financial position will likely play a key role.  

As your credit union, we’re here to help you make the best financial decisions during each stage of your life. If you have questions about financing a home, eliminating debt, or saving money, please contact us. Feel free to stop by any of our convenient branch locations or call 800-226-6673 to speak with a team member today. 


Each individual’s financial situation is unique and readers are encouraged to contact PEFCU when seeking financial advice on the products and services discussed. This article is for educational purposes only; the authors assume no legal responsibility for the completeness or accuracy of the contents.    

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