10 Money Principles You Should Master by 30

Advertiser Disclosure

Student Loan Hero Advertiser Disclosure

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the financial institution.


We’ve got your back! Student Loan Hero is a completely free website 100% focused on helping student loan borrowers get the answers they need. Read more

How do we make money? It’s actually pretty simple. If you choose to check out and become a customer of any of the loan providers featured on our site, we get compensated for sending you their way. This helps pay for our amazing staff of writers (many of which are paying back student loans of their own!).

Bottom line: We’re here for you. So please learn all you can, email us with any questions, and feel free to visit or not visit any of the loan providers on our site. Read less

You spend your 20s learning, experimenting, and making mistakes. It’s when you get closer to the big 3-0 that you really grow into who you are and become older, yet wiser. Even so, one area of life that can be confusing no matter how old you are: money.

Many people learn about money by making mistakes – there’s no Welcome to Adulthood guidebook that gives you all the answers to managing money in your 30s. But don’t worry. In this post, we’ll go over the 10 personal finance principles you should master by 30 so you don’t have to find out the hard way.

1. The value of your dollars

To rock money in your 30s, you should have an idea of how much you actually make and what that can afford you.

It’s easy to look at a nice, hefty gross salary and think you’re doing fine. However, it’s key to look at your salary after taxes and deductions to get a true financial picture. In other words, how much are you actually bringing home? Knowing this will help you be realistic about your goals.

For instance, ask yourself how many hours you have to work in order to buy that daily lunch out.

I was introduced to the concept of measuring spending by hours worked through the great personal finance book “Your Money or Your Life.” I realized my lunch out was costing me a whole hour of work. And dinner and happy hour? I was wasting over half a day of work.

Thinking about purchases this way will give you a clearer picture of how your income and spending are related and can shift your spending habits to prioritize larger goals.

2. How to budget

By the time you’re approaching 30, it’s important to have at least a basic understanding of budgeting.

I know, I know – budgeting can feel boring and restrictive. At the end of the day, though, it’s simply about making sure you spend less than you earn and have a purpose for every dollar.

Even if you’re not a strict budgeter, tracking your expenses and allocating money towards specific spending categories can help you gain control over your finances and make saving money in your 30s easier.

You can use tools like Mint or You Need a Budget (YNAB) to make the process easier or go DIY with an old-school pen and paper or Excel spreadsheet.

3. The impact of interest

The power of interest can either make you money or cost you money. Regardless, you should be clear on the impact of interest when it comes to all of your financial choices.

For example, how much is interest really adding to your loans? Though I borrowed $81,000 in student loans, with interest I ended up paying closer to six figures. Ugh.

On the other hand, I’ve been saving for years and have seen firsthand how interest can work in my favor. Aside from knowing the impact of interest on your debt as well as your savings, it’s key to understand the magic of compound interest. Compound interest is essentially like interest on top of interest and it can do wonders.

Let’s say you invest your $3,000 tax refund and don’t add another dime for the next 35 years. Under a seven percent return rate, your tax refund would balloon up to $32,029.74.

4. How your credit score is calculated

Your credit score is one of the most important numbers in your life. It determines whether or not you get approved for a mortgage or apartment, credit card, car loan, lower interest rates, cheaper insurance – maybe even a job.

Knowing how your credit score is calculated can help you keep it healthy.

“The majority of a credit score is comprised of five key factors,” said Katie Gampietro Burke, CFP at Wealth by Empowerment. According to Gampietro, those factors include:

  1. Whether or not you pay your bills on time
  2. Credit utilization (how much of the credit you have available is actually being used – ideally, you do not want to carry a balance more than 20 percent of your available credit, 30 percent maximum)
  3. Length of your credit history
  4. How often you apply for new credit
  5. Types of credit (a mix of mortgage, student loans, auto loans, revolving credit, etc.)

Your payment history — whether you make payments on time or not — is typically the largest contributing factor to your credit score. Make sure you’re paying your bills on time; if you’re prone to making late payments, consider setting up auto-pay so you never miss a bill.

5. Investing 101

By 30, you should have a grasp of basic investing terms and understand how investing works — and hopefully be investing!

Do you know the difference between a Roth IRA and a Traditional IRA and the various tax benefits? Do you know the differences between stocks and bonds? Most importantly, if you are already investing, do you know how much you are paying in fees?

While learning about investing can often feel like learning another language, it’s one that becomes easier with a little practice. And once you become familiar with how things work, you can invest and build wealth for the future.

When it comes to money in your 30s, investing should be a key player in your financial plan while time is still on your side.

6. When to say no

When you start to make any kind of money in your teens and 20s, it can feel like a rite of passage – you’ve grown up and can spend money on whatever you want.

Spending your own hard-earned money is liberating, but it can also lead to excessive spending because YOLO. If you’re like me, you’ve probably wasted some money on things that leave you shaking your head later.

By the time you get to 30, it’s important to have learned when to say no to things you don’t want to do, you don’t want to spend money on, and that aren’t in your budget. “No” is your friend; use it wisely. Saying “no” when appropriate and understanding your values when it comes to money can make saving money in your 30s easier.

7. How to write a will

Okay, so 30 isn’t exactly old, but it is time to start planning for the future and write a will. While no one likes to think about their own death, not having a plan in place can lead to confusion and trouble if you’re no longer around.

Saul M. Simon, CFP at Simon Financial Group, recommends having both a simple will and a living will.

A simple will indicates what you want to happen to your assets should you pass, while a living will details your wishes for medical care.

“If you die without a simple will to distribute your property, your loved ones will be put in a difficult legal position. A living will can help them make medical decisions if you become seriously ill,” Simon explained.

8. Rent or buy?

As you get closer to 30, you may start to think about buying a house. But is it the right choice for you? Though owning a home is a major financial goal for many people, it’s not always a great investment.

Seriously ask yourself if you’re happy with renting or if you really want to own a home. There are no right or wrong answers, but if you want to buy a home, it’s key to start saving for a down payment — at least 20 percent – to avoid paying expensive private mortgage insurance (PMI). Plus, depending on where you live and your lifestyle, it might actually make more financial sense to keep renting.

Don’t forget to factor in additional fees, repairs, taxes and insurance to the overall cost when deciding if homeownership is truly for you.

9. Your insurance needs

At this point, you probably have health insurance (thanks, Obama!). As you get older, however, you’ll want to assess what level of insurance you need in various areas of your life and try to find that Goldilocks balance of just right.

For example, renters insurance can protect your items in the case of theft or if there’s an incident at your apartment. You may also consider life insurance if you have a family or are the primary income earner.

“Imagine the situation a 29-year-old who has just started a family, or with large student loans co-signed by parents, or who just purchased a house would leave if they passed away tomorrow,” said Matt Hylland, a financial planner at Hylland Capital Management.

Now is the best time to look at your insurance needs, as you are most likely young and healthy and can get low rates.

They key is to understand what insurance coverage you have, what coverage you need, and fill in the gaps — just enough to be prepared, but not too much where you are wasting money on expensive premiums.

Money in your 30s should be about building and saving to prepare for your future. And sometimes that means thinking about the not-so-sexy financial things like insurance.

10. The importance of a money mindset

You’ve probably been in and out of a few romantic relationships and some of your friendships have come and gone. It happens. But one area you can still focus on building a solid, long-term relationship with is your money.

Your money mindset affects how you build wealth and how you prepare for the future. Think about some of your long-held beliefs about money and how they may be holding you back from success.

For example, I used to think I’d never get out of debt or make a lot of money, but those were simply things I told myself. Once I changed my money mindset, I started taking action instead of making excuses.

To enhance your money mindset, let go of some of your past mistakes, keep learning, and prepare for your future. Realize that just because you may think you are “bad with money” doesn’t mean you have to actually be that way. Having a positive money mindset is important in reaching your financial goals.

What else would you add to the list? What personal finance principles did you master by 30?

Interested in refinancing student loans?

Here are the top 6 lenders of 2018!
LenderVariable APREligible Degrees 
Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.

Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of Month/Day/Year, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.

Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.

The information provided on this page is updated as of 08/21/18. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at hello@earnest.com, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.

© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.

2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.

Laurel Road Disclosures

Savings example: average savings calculated based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were disclosed. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.

Application detail: 5 minutes indicates typical time it takes to complete application with applicant information readily available. It does not include time taken to provide underwriting decision or funding of the loan.

Instant rates mean a delivery of personalized rates for those individuals who provide sufficient information to return a rate. For instant rates a soft credit pull will be conducted, which will not affect your credit score. To proceed with an application, a hard credit pull will be required, which may affect your credit score.

Total savings calculated by aggregating individual average savings across total borrower population from 9/2013 to 12/2017. Individual average savings calculation based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were provided. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.

3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student loan Refinance:Fixed rates from 3.899% APR to 7.804% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.470% APR to 6.990% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.470% APR assumes the current index rate derived from the 1-month LIBOR of 2.08% plus 0.64% margin minus 0.25% ACH discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score.
  2. Terms and Conditions Apply. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)

4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.

LendKey Disclosures

Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.

5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

  1. Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). The following table displays the estimated monthly payment, total interest, and Annual Percentage Rates (APR) for a $10,000 loan. The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) shown for each in-school loan product reflects the accruing interest, the effect of one-time capitalization of interest at the end of a deferment period, a 2% origination fee, and the applicable Repayment Plan. All loans are eligible for a 0.25% reduction in interest rate by agreeing to automatic payment withdrawals once in repayment, which is reflected in the interest rates and APRs displayed. Variable rates may increase after consummation. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.08% effective July 25, 2018.

6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Education Refinance Loan Rate DisclosureVariable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of October 1, 2018, the one-month LIBOR rate is 2.22%. Variable interest rates range from 2.72%-8.32% (2.72%-8.32% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of the borrower’s loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Fixed interest rates range from 3.75%-8.69% (3.75%-8.69% APR) based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Lowest rates shown require application with a cosigner, are for eligible, creditworthy applicants with a graduate level degree, require a 5-year repayment term and include our Loyalty discount and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. The maximum variable rate on the Education Refinance Loan is the greater of 21.00% or Prime Rate plus 9.00%. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change. Please note: Due to federal regulations, Citizens Bank is required to provide every potential borrower with disclosure information before they apply for a private student loan. The borrower will be presented with an Application Disclosure and an Approval Disclosure within the application process before they accept the terms and conditions of their loan.
  2. Federal Loan vs. Private Loan Benefits: Some federal student loans include unique benefits that the borrower may not receive with a private student loan, some of which we do not offer with the Education Refinance Loan. Borrowers should carefully review their current benefits, especially if they work in public service, are in the military, are currently on or considering income based repayment options or are concerned about a steady source of future income and would want to lower their payments at some time in the future. When the borrower refinances, they waive any current and potential future benefits of their federal loans and replace those with the benefits of the Education Refinance Loan. For more information about federal student loan benefits and federal loan consolidation, visit http://studentaid.ed.gov/. We also have several resources available to help the borrower make a decision at http://www.citizensbank.com/EdRefinance, including Should I Refinance My Student Loans? and our FAQs. Should I Refinance My Student Loans? includes a comparison of federal and private student loan benefits that we encourage the borrower to review.
  3. Citizens Bank Education Refinance Loan Eligibility: Eligible applicants may not be currently enrolled. Applicants with an Associate’s degree or with no degree must have made at least 12 qualifying payments after leaving school. Qualifying payments are the most recent on time and consecutive payments of principal and interest on the loans being refinanced. Primary borrowers must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or resident alien with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. Resident aliens must apply with a cosigner who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. The cosigner (if applicable) must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. For applicants who have not attained the age of majority in their state of residence, a cosigner will be required. Citizens Bank reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at anytime. Interest rate ranges subject to change. Education Refinance Loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application/consumer credit agreement, verification of application information, certification of borrower’s student loan amount(s) and highest degree earned.
  4. Loyalty Discount Disclosure: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower or their co-signer (if applicable) has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower and their co-signer (if applicable) have submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, or other student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, and VT and some products may have an associated cost. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate disclosed in the Loan Approval Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  5. Automatic Payment Discount Disclosure: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
  6. Co-signer Release: Borrowers may apply for co-signer release after making 36 consecutive on-time payments of principal and interest. For the purpose of the application for co-signer release, on-time payments are defined as payments received within 15 days of the due date. Interest only payments do not qualify. The borrower must meet certain credit and eligibility guidelines when applying for the co-signer release. Borrowers must complete an application for release and provide income verification documents as part of the review. Borrowers who use deferment or forbearance will need to make 36 consecutive on-time payments after reentering repayment to qualify for release. The borrower applying for co-signer release must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. If an application for co-signer release is denied, the borrower may not reapply for co-signer release until at least one year from the date the application for co-signer release was received. Terms and conditions apply.
  7. Estimated average savings amount is based on 14,659 Education Refinance Loan customers who saved on loans between August 1, 2017 and July 31, 2018. The calculation is derived by averaging monthly savings across Education Refinance Loan customers whose payment amounts decreased after refinancing, calculated by taking the monthly payment prior to refinancing minus the monthly payment after refinancing. We excluded monthly savings from customers that exceeded $4,375 and were lower than $20 to minimize risk of data error skewing the savings amounts. Savings will vary based on interest rates, balances and remaining repayment term of loans to be refinanced. Borrower’s overall repayment amount may be higher than the loans they are refinancing even if monthly payments are lower.

2.47% – 6.99%3Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit SoFi
2.47% – 5.87%1Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Earnest
2.47% – 8.03%4Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Lendkey
2.95% – 6.37%2Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Laurel Road
2.48% – 6.25%5Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit CommonBond
2.72% – 8.32%6Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Citizens
Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.