6 Financial Moves to Make Before 30

In just a couple months I’ll no longer be able to say I’m in my mid-20s. I’ll officially be in my “late 20s,” and that’s a crazy thought! I know finance is something a lot of people struggle with, so I wanted to share some helpful financial tips I’ve learned through both experience and advice over the years.

Financial moves to make before 30

Establish a Budget

The first step is understanding your financial habits and establishing a budget. How much do you make each month? What are your fixed expenses (i.e. bills)? Variable expenses? What are your goals for spending and saving? These are all important Qs to ask yourself when figuring out your budget. You can see my tips on how to establish an effective budget here.

Build Your Savings Account

Generally, you’re able to be a little more “free” with finances in your 20s compared to 30+ when your responsibilities increase (e.g. marriage, family, house), so now’s a good time to start saving for those big ticket life things like a wedding, house, vacation, and/or ultimately, retirement.

Pay Debt Off

Obviously the sooner you can get rid of any debt, the better. But especially by 30! Not only are you paying the principal amount (the base of the loan), but you’re also paying for interest, which is the real killer. If you have a few different loans and aren’t sure where to begin with your debt, start by paying off the loan with the highest interest rate.

Enroll in a 401k Plan

Another 40ish years to go until retirement, but who’s counting?! You know how we’re all in disbelief that it’s already almost mid-April? Well since high school (and then college) graduation, time is FLYING. And I don’t know about you, but when it’s time to retire, money is the last thing I want to worry about! By 30 you should be enrolled in a 401k plan to save for your retirement. Most companies even match up to a certain percentage, so if you put 3% in and your company does too, that’s 6% of your paycheck going toward your future!

Build an Emergency (“Rainy Day”) Fund

Separate from your savings and 401k, you should have an emergency fund for unexpected things. You never know when something will pop up like your roof caving in (ugh, worst nightmare as a new homeowner), losing your job, a last-minute surgery, etc. Be prepared! Ideally this fund will include 3 months of living expenses, which I realize is quite a bit. BUT if you start moving a little into that fund at a time (direct deposit is the best), you’ll get there faster than you’d think.

Have Fun!

Since we’ve talked all about the serious stuff, I’ve saved the best for last. HAVE FUN! While it’s important to take all of the steps above to ensure your financial security, you still want to make sure you budget in there for fun. Because as I said earlier, your 20s are generally the years you have a little more freedom before “settling down.” So plan a trip, buy that handbag you’ve been eyeing! Don’t forget to factor in the fun!

Have you started on any of these? Any other tips you’d add?

  • I wish my job offered a 401-K or some kind of pension, but I’m on my own for that one. Sigh. These are all good tips, and even though I’m over 30, I’m still working on a few of these. You’re right about needing to be responsible yet still allowing yourself some leeway for fun purchases.

    • Ugh, bummer there isn’t one. I wish the old pension plans were still in place from years ago!

  • We definitely need to build up our savings more. Great reminder!

    • Good luck building it up! Direct deposit helps a lot with it, so the savings money is out of sight, out of mind!

  • Great post, Rachel! It’s important to start planning for your future when you’re young, but at the same time I like how you also mentioned having fun as well. I think you can be responsible while still allowing yourself to purchase fun things and trips from time to time.

  • Pay off debt is so important! And I love the other tips you’ve mentioned in this post. Focusing on savings is too important to ignore in your twenties!

  • These are great! I turned 30 yesterday (LOL) and truthfully, I’m still working on a few of these. I have a 401k, a budget, and a small emergency fund/savings account, but I’m working on paying off some debts and I’m definitely pretty terrible at having fun or allowing myself to use my money for fun things from time to time. This is mostly due to feeling like my debt must be paid off because I can have fun, but I’m working on this. ;)

    • Finance is a life-long thing to work on! I hope you can find a way to add more to the fun fund! Hopefully the debt will be paid off soon!

  • Couldn’t agree more with all of your tips! It’s so important for us 20-somethings to start laying the foundation for our financial future. For me right now, my main priority is paying off my student loan debt. I’m so close, maybe another year or so before I can say that they’re all paid off! Starting your 401k in your twenties is so important and if your company has a match program, that’s FREE money! You can’t pass up free money :)

    Thanks again for all of these tips!

    – Kristen

    • Thanks, Kristen! Hooray for being so close to paying your debt off. Any big plans for your finances once it’s done? And YES to the 401k. At first I hated having to put money aside for it but it’s so worth it!

  • These are great points. I’m currently in the process of fixing my credit. I had a little too much fun in my early 20’s… heh

    • I feel your pain.

    • It happens! The important thing is knowing what you need to work on and tackling it! Good luck getting your credit fixed – you got this!

  • My husband and I really, really, really need to save that extra bit for a rainy day. Our savings account is not the most lovely place. lol.

    • Hopefully you’ll be able to find a way to tuck a little away in savings without compromising the “fun” money!

  • Sarah Jean

    My husband and I do all of these but “the fun!” haha! We’re one of the rare couples that almost needs to spend more money because we never do anything so we can save for a house.

    • Oh no! You have to put some aside for fun! Although a house is a huge + exciting investment! When do you plan on buying?

  • Sharon Glascoe

    I’ve got to admit…I’m guilty of not having a rainy day fund. I really need to get on it since I only have 1 more year until my 30s!!

    • I think that’s always the one overlooked (especially if things always seem to be going pretty well). Definitely good to plan for though, you never know when you might need it!

  • I totally agree that everybody needs to do these and if for some reason they didn’t get to these by 30, then as soon as possible. Especially the paying off debt part. Having fun should be for every age!

  • Emm Dee

    All really great tips! I wish I had started a retirement fund in my 20s. I was too busy drowning in consumer debt, so it was my priority to pay that off first. (And I did!)

    • Thank you! Glad to hear you were able to pay your debt off. Definitely a top priority when it comes to getting your finances straight!

  • I wish I had these knowledge and financial tips when I was your age and not just spend on anything we like and want without saving much….

    • It’s never too late to start getting on the right track!

  • I think so many people just don’t realize how important, but easy it is to make a budget. I always put it off because I didn’t want to deal with it, but once I did, I have been able to save so much more and still live my life and buy most of what I want.

    • YES! I think especially seeing your fixed expenses/bills helps. And if you’re able to get them down at all, even better!

  • So much yess!! The only tweak I would say, is enroll in a retirement fund! I can’t get a 401k since I’m self employed! But so on point!

    • Ah, good point. Thank you, Rachel! I hope there are some good retirement fund options for you (I know they’re out there but I’m not too familiar with them)!

  • IG:Suetanyamchorgh

    I wish I had these knowledge and financial tips when I was younger. Great tips.

    • Thank you! It’s never too late to start getting your finances back on track!

  • Abbey Phipps

    Yes to all of these, especially the budget! The earlier you implement that, the better!

  • I’m so glad I don’t have to worry about any loans, and I also have a savings account on the side. Thanks all these tips!!

    • Yay! Sounds like you’re on the right track. Keep it up, girl!

  • These are great tips! I was able to pay off my school loans and car payment before 30 and it felt great.

  • Lauren

    Thanks for sharing! A few more years until I’m 30 and I need to start to get my finances straight!


    • Thanks for reading, Lauren! Good luck getting them on track!

  • Katie Mulford

    These are great tips! I keep a budget spreadsheet which is so helpful for me. I definitely did not pay off debt before 30 but I guess that is something that varies from person to person. I do think it is important to really know and understand your personal finances while you’re in your 20s!

    • Thanks, Katie! I totally agree that understanding your finances as early on in life as possible is helpful! Having a budget spreadsheet is a great idea!

  • Neely

    These are awesome tips. Establishing a 401K is so important!

    • Yes! It’s crazy to be thinking about retirement already (SO many years to go) but you blink and and the years go by!

  • Developing a budget has been on my to do list for years. We are pretty good with what we spend but just can’t seem to work on the darn budget.

    • I hope you can nail one down soon! Have you tried using any apps? Start with the fixed expenses (bills you HAVE to pay) and then work backwards from there!

  • YES YES and YES! All great advise. i also just wrote a post about smart financial decisions.

    • Thanks, Saprina! Finance tips are always so helpful! It’s definitely something you want to stay on top of!

  • These are some great tips! I’m currently working on building more of my savings account!

    • Thanks, Silvia! Glad to hear you’re building your savings up. It’s so important!

  • Ahhh being in your late twenties is so daunting! Definetly puts the pressure on to be more financially stable by 30. These are all on my to-do list!

  • Just turned 29 yesterday and luckily it looks like I’m in pretty good shape! Still paying off student loans but I’ve at least been putting more than the minimum towards it each month. Hopefully soon!

    • Happy belated birthday! Hooray for being in good financial shape! It’s definitely a good feeling when you can put more than the minimum toward paying something off. Hopefully you’ll get there soon!

  • I couldn’t agree more on the savings and 401k plans!! My first job offered 6% matching, so I was definitely in to putting whatever I had to do to get the match!! I can’t offer my employees a match now (sad!), but I did set up a 403b (for non profits) because I think it’s so important. Also… TRAVEL. TRAVEL in your 20s!! (I know you know that, lol…) Financially, it’s so much easier… take advantage of fare sales and go have adventures!

    • A 6% match is awesome! I’ve been putting as much as I can into my 401k too. Definitely don’t want to lose out on those matching funds! And YES to all the travel (you know I’m the biggest advocate for that)! It’s important to save for the future, but also to live in the now :)