Budgeting

15 People On The One Money Habit They Want To Master Before 30

By | Thursday, April 28, 2016

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Looking into my financial future always kind of scares me. I feel confident about my money habits now, but the truth is, I don’t know how much money I’ll be bringing in in five years, or whether I’ll be married and looking at houses, or living in another country. I truly have no idea. Sure, I have a few clues and definitely some preferences, but not a specific picture in my head. That being said, even though I am not sure what my life will look like, and only have a few “before 30 goals,” I can start to shape the money habits that I want to have implemented by 30. With this in mind, I asked 15 people (in their 20s) about the money habit they want to master before turning 30. Here’s what everyone had to say:

1. “I need to worry about spending money a little less. Right now, I tend to overthink every purchase, and question my decision every time I go out to a nice meal, even though I splurge sparingly and only go out on special occasions. I would like to get in the habit of not being as worried about money, especially because the rest of my money habits have now gotten so much better. I make good money and have a very good amount saved, but I still obsess, and that’s a habit I want to get rid of and replace with a more positive money attitude by 30.” — Maggie, 24

2. “I would like to get better about saving, and therefore better about budgeting. While I don’t rack up a ton of credit card debt every month by living beyond my means, there are often times when I wish I had watched my money more carefully one month and could have saved more in the process. Before 30, I want to have made putting away money every month a regular part of my life.” — Kelly, 24

3. “Maybe this sounds trivial, but I would like to get into the habit of MAKING COFFEE AT HOME. I spend about $100 on coffee a month, at least, and it’s honestly my worst financial habit. I work in a latte office where everyone comes in with their cute little coffee cups in the morning. We take coffee breaks together in the afternoons sometimes too, and that can also be a money drain.” — Caroline, 28

4. “I would really love to get to the point where some of my flights are paid for by airline points or miles. If I were better at tracking my mileage, and I had a travel credit card, I would definitely be able to pay for at least one trip to the west coast (from Boston) and back per year. It’s not a huge goal, and certainly not as good as flying round-trip to Asia on points, but it’s certainly a start, and it’s a financial habit I want to master as soon as possible.” — Dev, 24

5.Splitting up my homogeneous savings account. Right now my savings (that is non-401k) is all lumped together. So my $1,000 emergency fund, vacation fund, and additional savings are all in one account, which leaves my saving milestones pretty nebulous, and makes it much easier for me to spend. I find myself with more of a lax attitude toward savings, because I don’t have an account that has a feeling of “you CANNOT touch this unless you’re unemployed” or something. I’m turning 26 in a few days, and one of the habits I want before 30 is to have appropriate dedicated savings accounts for specific uses. What that looks like for me: my emergency fund will have six months of expenses saved, I’ll have $1,500 put in a vacation fund that I’ll replenish on a monthly basis each time I book a vacation, and I’ll have a separate long-term savings plan that is diversified between investments, my Roth retirement account, and whatever else I decide on. It sounds very ~adult~ right now, especially because I’m still trying to clear out some remaining credit card debt and the $2,000 I have left on my car loan, but I’m hoping I can get this done in four years!” — Katie, 26

6. “Not touching my emergency fund! I’ve gotten really good about direct-depositing part of my paycheck into a savings account for emergencies, but I’ve frequently needed dip into it for non-emergencies (like just spending more than I meant to in a certain month). I want to be in a financial place where I can cover my budget during those high spending months without needing to dip into my emergency fund to make ends meet!” — Meghan, 25

7. “I want to be in the habit of regularly saving money. As of now, I live paycheck to paycheck, and I never have savings for anything but emergencies.” — Samantha, 23

8. “By the time I’m 30, I want to be consistently maxing out my Roth IRA every year. It’s sometimes hard for me to get excited about saving for retirement, since it feels so far away and I have no idea how much will be considered ‘enough,’ but I know that maxing out my Roth IRA, especially when I’m still young and have time on my side, is a huge step in the right direction toward retiring comfortably one day.” — Jenn, 28

9. “This might just be a dream, but I would really like to get into the habit of not taking out a car loan, and paying up-front the next time I have to buy a car. I know a lot of people wouldn’t necessarily recommend that as a habit, but if I were well-off enough financially, it would ideal for me. Right now, I pay about $400 a month for my car (between the high monthly payment and my insurance), and it’s a huge drain on my budget. If I could save enough to be in the habit of making purchases with cash up-front, whenever possible, that would be amazing.” — Joe, 25

10. “Maybe this seems obvious, but one money habit I’d love to have is not having credit card debt. By 30, I would like to be in a financially stable enough place where I do not need to keep a running balance on my credit card, and can pay it off in full every month. Right now, I’m in graduate school and living off a relatively low income, so even though I don’t have a high amount of credit card debt, I do have to deal with keeping a balance on my card, sometimes for months at a time. I don’t want that to be my norm in a couple years time.” — Ryan, 26

11. “The ultimate money habit that I’d like to acquire by 30 would be having a passive income source. What I would love to do is buy a duplex and rent out half of it to a small family. Some wouldn’t define that as true ‘passive income’ because I would still be paying a mortgage on the whole house, but I would be making a profit on my home, and I think it’s the first step to true passive income, and therefore is at the top of my list of money habits I want to implement by 30.” — Karen, 26

12. “I am going to get into the habit of managing my 401k properly. I want to be more active in picking what my money is investing in, and that involves doing my research, and checking my Fidelity account more often. I am already meeting my contribution goal, but I want to take a more active knowledge role in managing my 401k.” — Sadie, 29

13. “I want to be managing my finances in tandem with my partner’s finances by the time I’m 30. So one money habit I’d like to master by 30 is having more regular financial check-ins with my live-in boyfriend, more discussions of financial goals we want to work toward together, and more time spent sitting down and organizing what we want to use our (brand-new) joint account for.” — Ashley, 28 

14. “By 30, I want to be in the habit of putting about 10% of my income into an IRA. And in an ideal world, I’d rather contribute weekly, or bi-weekly, instead of monthly. For some reason, when I look at my financial picture for the month, contributing 10% of my income seems daunting, but when I break it down into weekly portions, it seems much more doable. I did well contributing to my IRA in my first two years out of college, but then my income was reduced, and I haven’t been contributing as much since. I have always heard that the more you contribute to your IRA at an early age, the better it can do for you in the long run.” — James, 26

15. “My girlfriend and I want to be in the habit of putting away about $500/month each so that we can save for a house together. We would like to both get comfortable with this habit within the next six months, so that we can have (hopefully) enough for a good down payment saved by the time we’re in our early 30s.” — David, 27

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