I honestly believe the financial moves you make in your 30s have the power to make or break you in the long run. Most of the people I know were finished with college and somewhat established in their careers and family life by the time they reached their 30s. The time for goofing around and finding yourself was over and it was truly time to get down to the business of planning for the future if you hadn't already.
My husband and I entered our 30s as parents of new twins, with me having given up my career in order to be a full time mom. I wrote before about some of the financial sacrifices we made in our 20s while preparing to be a single income family. Here are five of the financial moves my husband and I made in our 30s that I believe also made a huge difference in our lives.
Used our equity wisely
My husband took a new job closer a couple of hours closer to our families when our twins were about a year old. We sold our first home, which we had bought for about $45,000 for a profit of approximately $30,000. As I mentioned in my first article, we had put a lot of hard work into our first house by stripping wallpaper, painting, tearing out old carpets and refurbishing hard wood floors.
When we bought our next home, we again chose a home that was well within our means as a single-income family, and we put part of our equity from the first house into a down payment. But the rest we used to pay off debt, leaving us essentially debt free except for our mortgage.
Drove older vehicles
Someone in my husband's family recently told him that she and her husband know nothing about fixing cars, so they have accepted that they will always have two car payments. We think that is nonsense. We never had more than one car payment at a time, because we bought cars we could pay off quickly and drive for a long time. I'm still driving the van we bought used more than five years ago, and I hope to drive it several more years.
We knew many couples who divorced during their 30s. We're thankful that we were not among them. Although the childbearing years can be tough on a marriage, with more than one fourth of married people divorced by age 40, staying married can be a great move financially. Had we not stayed married, I don't think we could have given our children a stay-at-home parent, much less the homeschool education they currently enjoy.
Kicked retirement savings up a notch
One of the best things we did in our 30s was kick retirement savings up a notch. My husband had always contributed the maximum he could to his 401k at work, but we added a Roth IRA to increase our savings. Thanks to our increased savings and frugal lifestyle, we have managed to more than double the average 50-year-old's savings, as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau last year, and we're still in our early 40s.
Lived within our means
I think the single most important thing we did during our 30s was live within our means. Unlike many couples our age, we were not tempted by adjustable rate mortgages and artificially low payments when we bought our second home prior to the implosion of the housing bubble. We were content to live in a little house, drive older cars and spend quality time with our kids in affordable places. It's all about priorities.
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