5 Smart Financial Goals for 30-Year-Olds

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  • To make the most of your 30s, look for ways to increase your income, and try to save at least 20% of what you earn.
  • Take care of any high-interest debt that's holding you back and work on getting a credit score of at least 760.
  • Saving one year's salary is a common recommendation for 30-year-olds and a good goal to set for yourself.

Your 30s are the time to start making moves financially.

As you enter your 30s, that's often when things start trending up financially. You might find yourself earning more money than you did when you were younger, getting more established in your career, and being able to build your savings.

Since your situation has changed, your goals should, as well. If your 20s were about laying a foundation, the next decade is all about growth and putting yourself in a comfortable position going forward. To achieve that, here are five personal finance goals for 30-year-olds.

1. Increase your income

Ideally, your earning potential increases as you get older. You have more experience, and you develop more skills. That's why your biggest priority in your 30s should be to maximize your income. Set realistic but ambitious goals, like earning another $5,000 to $10,000 next year.

The best way to do this is going to depend on your skillset and your current employment situation. Here are some different options to consider:

  • Let your employer know that you want a raise and ask what you can do to advance.
  • Try job searching to see if you could get a higher salary from a new employer.
  • Start a small business or start working for yourself as a freelancer.
  • Check out side hustles that could fit your schedule and help you bring in additional income.

2. Pay off high-interest debt

Saving money while you have high-interest debt is kind of like running a 5K with ankle weights. Sure, you can do it, but it's going to be much harder. Those monthly debt payments cut into what you can put towards your savings goals and retirement.

Where a lot of people have trouble is credit card debt, since it's easy to overspend with credit cards. If that's an issue for you, focus on getting out of credit card debt and avoiding it going forward. And if you have any other debt with high interest rates, like payday loans, make sure to attack those, too.

Low-interest debt normally isn't a big deal. If you have a reasonable auto loan or a mortgage, you don't need to pay those off ASAP -- although you can if you want.

3. Save one year's salary

Many personal finance experts recommend saving at least one year's salary by the time you're 30. If you make $50,000 per year, then your goal would be $50,000.

To clarify, this doesn't mean you need all that money in just your savings account. You can include the money in all the bank accounts, retirement plans, and brokerage accounts you have.

This can be a challenging goal, and a lot of 30-year-olds don't have a year's salary saved. If you're not there yet, make it one of your financial goals to hit during your 30s. You're going to need several times your annual salary to be comfortable in retirement. One year's salary is a good starting point you can build on.

4. Get a credit score of at least 760

Your credit score is a measure of your credit worthiness, or how likely you are to repay money you borrow. The type of score that's most widely used by lenders is your FICO® Score, and it's on a scale of 300 to 850.

There are quite a few perks of a high credit score. The perk that may be especially important to you at this stage of life is that your credit score determines your mortgage rate. If you're planning to buy a home, improving your credit score could save you $10,000 or more over the lifetime of a mortgage.

Consumers with a FICO® Score of at least 760 get the lowest mortgage rates, so that's a good target to aim for. Even if you don't plan to buy a home, your credit score could also make it easier to get approved for an apartment and open one of the top credit cards, among many other financial perks.

5. Save 20% to 30% of your income

Saving money consistently allows you to be prepared for large expenses and put money away for retirement. When you were in your 20s, saving 20% to 30% of your income may not have been feasible. Money's often tight in that age bracket.

In your 30s, it's really important that you save a solid chunk of your income. You don't want to play catch-up with your retirement savings in your 40s and 50s. It's stressful, and when you're closer to retirement, your money has less time to grow. That means you need to save even more than you would've if you had started now.

Start saving at least 20% of your income if you aren't already. If you can save more, that's even better. As far as where to put that money, divide it between your savings and your retirement accounts. You can do an even split or weigh it more heavily towards one or the other, depending on your current priorities.

Your 30s could be a decade of exciting financial developments. Achieving the goals listed above will help you stay on track and put you in a great position for the years to come.

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