Having taken the first step into my 40s last year, it is nice to look back at my 30s and take pride, and comfort, in the financial decisions my husband and I made. While it probably would have been more fun to be less financially responsible, we bought a house in a great school district, continued putting money away for our retirement and invested regularly in our two children's college funds.
The ups and downs of the housing market in recent years have caused a lot of people financial headaches in attempting to move. As my husband works for a family owned business that will keep us in the same general area, we decided to buy a house that we could stick with, long term. It wasn't the fanciest house with the most updated features, but it is in one of best school districts in our state where people regularly tear down older homes just for the land to build new ones.
Because we focused on important things like location, our house has maintained its value, and we have even increased its worth by jazzing it up with many improvements. Since we made the decision to buy a house we will stick with in our 30s, the mortgage will be paid in full in our early 60s before we retire.
We also continued investing in our retirement funds as we traveled through our 30s, knowing that a financial decision such as this would pay off in the long run. While my husband invested through work in a 401K, I began working part-time doing project work and no longer had the option of a 401K. I took the money I had accrued when working full-time, rolled it into an IRA, and began making regular contributions to a Roth IRA. Even when I wasn't working during the summer so I could be around for my kids full time, I still contributed to my retirement portfolio. The experts say "pay yourself first," so I did. We have watched our accounts grow through our 30s and look forward to being financially stable when we do reach the age to retire someday.
Lastly my husband and I are proud that we continued contributions to our children's college funds throughout our 30s. We set up college advantage funds and each month we both have money automatically withdrawn from our bank accounts and deposited into their college funds. The college funds are managed by an investment firm based on their anticipated graduation year, with higher risk as they are younger and moving toward low risk as they get closer to college age. With the cost of a college education ever on the rise, I'm sure our children will someday appreciate that we had the financial wherewithal to save rather than stick them with the burden of debt.
My parents always taught me to live below my means, and that is best financial advice anyone in their 30s can get. It's easy to buy the nicest house you can afford and drive a luxury vehicle, but you don't want to find yourself bagging groceries to make ends meet some day instead of retiring. Making smart, practical, financial decisions in our 30s will hopefully secure a comfortable lifestyle for my husband and me as we grow older, and that is something of which we are proud.
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