This past weekend, I won a 5k.
OK, that’s not even close to accurate; I won my age division of men in our 30s…among a very small field of runners. Here’s an Instagram picture of me with my trophy (posing with the 5k’s fastest woman in her 30s):
And, of course, the two fastest runners overall beat me by a good three minutes each. I believe the fastest man was in his early 20s and the fastest female appeared about 17.
Hearing their times reminded me of two things:
- Humility. Because those two winners could have changed and eaten a peanut butter sandwich by the time I had crossed the finish line.
- That people of different ages should have different goals. Because my heart would have jumped straight out of my chest if I ever managed to run that fast (probably not accurate)
Let’s transition to personal finance
Oh, but that’s how I treat my finances too.
I spent my 20s building up skills, making mistakes, learning lessons, having experiences, and doing all manner of things that my body is either no longer capable of or that just wouldn’t make sense for someone in his 30s.
For many of us, the 30s are a time of transition — where we finally start to get it, whatever “it” is. It’s also when more people start depending on us, whether at work, at home, or other places.
Here are the things I’m trying to bang out in my 30s:
1. Advance my career
I spent my 20s developing career skills in entry level work and in school, figuring out what I’m interested in, and what I’m good at. Now that I’m in my 30s, it’s time to apply those skills to increased responsibility, increased output, and increased pay.
And it’s just as important to keep on challenging myself, both to keep those skills fresh and to learn new ones.
Not to mention that I should continue networking, seeking mentorship, and doing all the things necessary to continue growing.
2. Get out and stay out of unsecured debt
I managed to pile on quite a bit of unsecured debt in my 20s.
Now that I’m in my 30s, making money, and building up an emergency fund, there’s really no good reason to get into more debt.
3. Invest for retirement
Here’s a scary thought: if you’re in your 30s, you’re probably closer to retirement than birth.
The good thing is that I’ve still get a good amount of time before I really have to retire. That means there’s plenty of time for the money I put away into a 401(K) or IRA to grow into something real nice, so it’s important to put as much away as possible.
4. Rainy day savings
Back in my 20s, I thought nothing of sleeping on a friend’s couch when times got tough.
That’s slightly less OK in my 30s. Building up an emergency fund will keep that from happening
5. Get health insurance
I never went without health insurance in my 20s, but probably might have had it not been provided by my job, meaning that a couple huge emergencies as I left my 20s could have been even more traumatic.
Ensuring that I have insurance and access to care in my 30s will help keep health problems from turning into a financial catastrophe.
You know what else is pretty good health insurance? Exercising and eating right. It’s a good idea to do that as well.
Don’t inflate your lifestyle
I think not inflating your lifestyle is a pretty good way to sum up all five of these personal finance goals for your 30s.
When you start making more money in your 30s, it could be easy to convince yourself into thinking you deserve to own all the toys you could only dream of in your 20s. Or even worse, you could convince yourself into thinking you deserve all the toys your friends are showing off on Facebook.
Focus on whatever it is that you decide your goals are and be happy living within your means.
40s you will definitely be grateful
Alright, these are my five. What goals am I missing for people in their 30s?