In your 30s, you’ve hopefully started to check off important financial milestones: You’re paying down bad debt, you have an emergency fund, and you’re making monthly contributions to your 401(k). And, while your financial situation is likely different from your friends and peers, there’s one habit you should all add to that checklist: the desire to establish good investment habits.
“It’s really important to get this message out,” says Sallie Krawcheck, a former equity analyst and CFO of Citigroup turned founder and CEO of Ellevest, a digital investment platform for women. “We talk a lot about equality and empowerment and the positive impact of women moving ahead, but the truth is money is at the bottom of so much power in a capitalist society. But it’s sort of viewed as tacky to talk about.”
So, if you haven’t already, you’ll want to start investing.
But how much should you contribute? The short answer: Anything you can, according to Krawcheck.
“Want to start your own business? Buy a home? Get an advanced degree? None of these things can happen if we’re not in control of our money; none of these things can happen if we’re not working toward these goals financially. It’s as simple as that,” Krawcheck tells us.
Krawcheck has made a career of making money her business. Formerly the CEO of both Merrill Lynch and Smith Barney, (where Fortune called her the “Last Honest Analyst”), and now a serial entrepreneur, Krawcheck has the goal of helping close the gender investing gap by making investing more accessible and equitable for women. Her storied career on Wall Street gave her the unique perspective to create a new digital investment platform, Ellevest, that’s aimed specifically at women.
“The financial services industry is filled with jargon and complexity. There are so many myths holding women back from investing. But when you break them down, you can see that investing doesn’t have to be risky, or scary, or designed only for millionaires. It’s a smart strategy that can absolutely be part of your financial plan, no matter how much you make,” says Krawcheck. And since we’re here to help guide you through the struggles of adulthood, we sat down with Krawcheck to hear her expert advice on what every woman needs to know about how managing money in your 30s.
“We have an opportunity to close the gender gap for all women, one woman at a time, starting with you. And we’re going to give you some deeply practical advice on how to do it.”
Commit to adopting these four financial habits for a successful 2018. Your new future starts here.
SAVE FOR/BUY A HOME
By 30, the routine of sleeping on your friend’s couch or hopping from apartment to apartment has gotten to be pretty exhausting.
Now that you’re gaining your financial footing, its time to begin thinking about settling down in a place you can officially call home. According to the 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, the median age for a first time homebuyer is 32 and the median cost for a house was $182,500.
Putting down a payment that big may sound daunting, but if you start strategically setting aside money now, getting a house of your own, will be attainable. This means its time to improve your credit score, pay down debt, build up your savings account, and mayyyyyybe skip the weekly online shopping spree. Thanks to the power of compounding, investing your moneyearlier will help you buy that home. 10% is the average annual return the stock markets have produced since 1926. This includes the lowest lows: The Great Depression, the massive slide after September 11th and the financial crisis of 2008. (Source: The Basics for Investing in Stocks)
Before you buy the “welcome” mat, ask yourself if you are ready to settle on this location, planning on having a family, and will you be able to provide for the expenses, well, forever. If you have any uncertainty or doubts, renting a house for the time being is always a safe bet.
PAY DOWN DEBT
You can’t avoid it any more. Debt. Put it this way, once you pay down your debt you’ll no longer be haunted by student loans, credit card debt, medical debt, cell phone bills, auto loans, and the list goes on. Focus on paying off the debts with the highest interest rate (especially those in the double digits) first because those are eating up your bank account. Once you pay down debt, you can focus on stashing your money for purposes that will build a happy and healthy future including a home, vacation time, children’s schooling, and more.
INCREASE RETIREMENT PLAN/CONTRIBUTIONS
Just beginning to enjoy the career peak that often strikes in one’s 30s, the thought of retirement is far from your radar. While you still have many years until your grandchildren call you a senior citizen, its never to early to start increasing your retirement plan. If you thought your 20s went by in the blink of an eye, just imagine how fast this next decade will go. You’re playing with time here, and the sooner you start saving for retirement the better. Invest in your company’s 401(k) plan, and if your company has a match program, take full advantage of it. A match is basically your company handing you free money toward your retirement fund #blessed. So as you grow older and wiser, and up your income, its smart to increase this percentage so your retirement fund will also increase. Additionally, promise yourself to invest a small portion into your retirement plan at the end of each month to guarantee that you have consistent contributions.
Feeling a little overwhelmed with having to worry about saving so far in advance? A great place to begin keeping track of your retirement plan is with companies like Ellevest. Ellevest is a robo-advising platform meant to help advice females like you and me on how to best organize our finances for our particular future. Ready to get this retirement fund on a roll? Sign up with Ellevest and get your free financial plan today. Get started here.
INVEST IN YOUR GOALS
Stop feeling old, you’re fabulously in your third decade of life. Remember, you’re only 30-something, not fifty-something. You still have a bright future ahead filled with so many adventures and milestones. Which means…keep chugging along on that investing train. Think about investing in different companies, stocks, and plans, so that you will have the dough at your fingertips for unexpected payments or luxury splurges.
Investing creates “opportunity.” Opportunity for more money; opportunity to advance ourselves and to be part of advancing the fourth and final wave of feminism.
It can be fun spending money. It can be even more fun watching your savings grow. You’ll thank us later.
For when you don’t have a retirement fund…
Don’t sound the alarm – yet. Ellevest can get you set up in less than 10 minutes so you can reach all of your money goals. Sans judgment, finance jargon, and trust issues. Crisis averted. Get into it here.*
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Disclosures: We’re excited to be partnering with Ellevest to start this conversation about women and money. We may receive compensation if you become an Ellevest client.