5 “Money Messes” To Clean Up Before You Hit 30


I’ve always been the responsible type. I’m an ‘old soul,’ if you will, and that means I’ve always been a bit more conscious of things than others might be. My husband is very much the same way. We’ve always been ahead of curve when it comes to our personal and financial life, and it’s something we do not take for granted. When we were growing up, there were things that were more important to us than they were to some of our friends. For example, instead of going to college full time and not working so that we had time to party and have a fun and laid-back time for four or five years on mommy and daddy’s dime, we both worked full-time and went to school online so we could graduate faster and earn more money. That’s why we were able to build our first house when we were 20 and 21 and get married when we were 21 and 22. That’s why when we had our first child at 25, we had already traveled the world, had nice savings, nice retirement accounts and we had our stuff together.

That’s why at 30 and 31 we were able to welcome our third and fourth babies, drive luxury cars without payments and buy our dream house in our dream neighborhood. It’s why we were able to keep our first house instead of selling it to buy our second home, and why we were able to put down a huge down payment. This is something we talk about a lot, especially when we see on social media how others are living their lives. While we are in our dream home now, many of the people we went to school with are just buying their first homes, their starter homes. Many of them are just now getting their lives in order. It makes us feel good to know that our hard work and our dedication and our earlier sacrifices paid off. But that doesn’t mean we are perfect. We just worked really hard to get our lives in order before we hit our 30s. We heard that they were the best times of our lives, and we wanted to be sure that we were able to make that as truthful as possible.

And that’s why we worked hard during our 20s to get our lives in order so we could really enjoy the good stuff as we got older. And that’s why there are some financial messes that you simply have to tackle in your 20s so that they’re not longer an issue in your life before you reach your 30s. Do that, and you could be living your dream a lot sooner than you might have thought possible a decade ago.

Start a Retirement Account

Ideally, you should have done this and begun contributing as much as possible from the start. But don’t worry if you didn’t; you can add more now and catch up. You have to have a retirement account, and it has to be a good one. Make sure you are contributing at least 10 percent, if not more, so that you can make sure you are on track to retire at the correct age. Want to retire sooner? Contribute more. This is especially true if your employer matches your retirement – it’s free money.

Get Rid of Debt

There are some people that have varying ideas of what is acceptable and what is not. Credit card debt is not acceptable; pay it off. You should not be purchasing things you cannot afford, so stop it now and pay that stuff off. Additionally, pay off those student loans. They’re killing you. You also need to pay off things like your car loans. Some people will argue that it’s all right to have a mortgage and a car loan, but I disagree. Pay off the car loans. My husband and I realized that our desire to have brand new luxury cars every single year for many years had taken us into a place in which we were spending more than $1000 per month on car payments, and that was not something we felt was appropriate. Pay them off.

Start an Emergency Fund

I tell you that this is the most important fund you will ever have; and I promise you that I’m not kidding. Anything can happen at any time. For months, we were spending $600 per week out of pocket on unexpected expenses around our new house. We’re talking septic issues, garage door issues, my husband needed a new top on his car after a minor incident during a storm, we had a couple of quick trips to the emergency room that even after insurance were still outrageous; if we hadn’t planned carefully for an emergency fund, we might have been in a bad place.

Get Life Insurance

For a long time, I didn’t have a life insurance policy. I didn’t think I needed one. I was a stay-at-home mom for a while before I became a work-from-home mom. My husband had one so that I could care for our family if something ever – God forbid – happened to him. But I didn’t. When I began making money working from home, we decided to open a life insurance policy for me and our agent was very disapproving that we’d waited. She pointed out to us that even when I wasn’t making money, I was still worth something. She pointed out that without me home with our four kids, my husband would have had to pay for school for them. He would have taken on many additional expenses, and that would have hurt him without me here to care for our kids. Get a life insurance policy; for every adult in the family.

Create a Will

You need one; I cannot stress this enough. You need to have a legal will that details everything you have, where it goes, what’s to happen to it, and it needs to have information on where to find policies for insurance, bills and everything in between. Find an attorney and discuss this with him or her. It’s imperative.

Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images


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