6 Money Lessons to Learn Before You’re 30

understanding money personal, millennial money, money lessons

Learning financial responsibility in your twenties can be a total game changer for your future. By getting the following six lessons before you turn thirty, you can set yourself up for more financial freedom and peace later in life.

1. Get a side hustle now. Seriously, while you still have the energy and time, get a side hustle. Not only will you save some coin by not spending every evening at happy hour after work, but you will also be earning some cash during that time.

2. Every dollar has a place. In other words, get a budget! Create a budget and assign every dollar to a category. If you have money left over you will spend it on dumb stuff, instead allocate it towards financial goals so you aren’t tempted to waste in on yet another one of Kylie’s lip packs.

3. Set financial goals. Whether they are paying off debt by a certain deadline, saving for a retirement or a home, start thinking about your financial future.

4. Make saving for retirement a necessity. To the previous point, if you are debt free, then saving for retirement via an IRA or 401k should be a fixed cost in your budget. The younger you start saving the more of the compounding interest you can rack in. Plus did you know it’s nearly impossible for someone who started saving for retirement at age 30 to catch up to someone who started saving for retirement at age 20?


5. Building credit takes time, destroying credit takes minutes.  Seriously, every time you open a retail card for that 20% off discount, you hurt your credit. Then factor in the fact that most Americans are living in financial chaos, (for example: forgetting to pay the bill on that retail card), and it has the potential to hurt you even more!

If any of these are you:

– You’re new to credit (as in just started using it in the last 6 years) or

-If you don’t have an emergency fund with six to nine months of income in it, or

-If you have had a checkered past with credit

A good rule of them is to only charge what you can pay off in 24 hours.

6. Live below your means. In your twenties you will probably make some nice jumps in your career, which come with nice salary boosts. You should use that as an opportunity to live below your means. Don’t fall into the trap of lifestyle inflation to match your new paycheck. Remember, just because your co-worker comes in with new designer shoes every week, does not mean they don’t have a buttload of debt they are paying off. Dave Ramsey says you have to “live like no one else today, so you can live like no one else tomorrow”… meaning that most Americans are in debt, and if we live below our means when we are young, we don’t have to be tied by debt in our future.

Want to start saving for your future? Get our checklist for saving on a tight budget!

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  • Rachel Gault

    Love these – couldn’t agree more!

  • Christina at The Educated Shutter

    Excellent tips! I needed to read this!

  • Cole Nemeth

    These are all really great tips! I just got a job (after college) and I can’t wait to start saving money and building my credit!

  • Mistle Petrey

    All great tips!!! I budget down to every dollar almost. I know that I have bills to pay and if that means not having something that I don’t really need, it’s cut out. Also having a side hustle is something I’ve done.

    • Thanks Mistle! I love side hustles! Especially while we are young and still have the energy and flexibility!

  • Jazmine Brown

    Amazing tips. Me & boyfriend have been coming up with ways that we can save money. I think living below your means is defintely one we need to work on.

    • Thank Jazmine! You guys can totally do it! Maybe even set up automatic direct deposit where a percentage of your paycheck goes straight to savings so it’s totally out of site out of mind! Good luck!

  • Gail Marie Cole

    "Building credit takes time, destroying credit takes minutes" – so spot on! It’s also so important to keep an eye on your credit report even if you think you’re doing a good job at managing your finances. Small dings to your credit can still have a huge impact.

    • So true! A recent hard inquiry dropped me by like 20 points!

  • Jordyn Brown

    These are all such great tips for young people starting out. My husband and I have just been married a year, but thankfully he was already established with a good job (& several side hustles!) when I graduated just a few months ago. The biggest thing is living below your means. It’s nice to go out and have fun, but living below our means for us, means that in a few years when my friends are still renting apartments and struggling to make ends meet, we’ll be building the home of our dreams! It’s worth the sacrifice right now to be more prosperous later!
    xoxo, SS

    <a href="http://www.southern-stylista.com">The Southern Stylista</a>

    • So true! I love that point "leaving below our means for us, means that in a few years when my friends are still …struggling… we’ll be building the home of our dreams!" — Totally worth sacrificing for a little now to be set up for more freedom later on! Especially as we get older and other more serious responsibilities pile on!

  • Nicole DaRosa

    I’m trying to do all of these things now that I have my “big girl” job lol how am I 21 and thinking about retirement? haha

  • The point about destroying credit quickly and building it slowly is so true! I have been there and done that and it is NO FUN!

  • Great tips! Having a budget is super important. I love looking back and seeing how far I’ve come from not knowing how to organize my money as well

  • I love your advice to live below your means. It’s so hard to financially plan being in grad school but I’ve become an expert at this tip! lol

  • Samantha

    These are so important! Living below your means is HUGE!

  • Budgeting is seriously my favorite thing! I’m getting extra stricter with myself and put everything in it’s place. Even if I have extra I started putting it in my savings account!

  • Wife Sense

    This is excellent, practical advice for Millennials. Watched some of my kids make these mistakes and have to struggle to reverse them. Ugh! Pinned it.

  • It’s SO important to live within or below your means – I know so many people who literally spend their entire paycheck when they get it! Most of my friends are in their early twenties, but it’s not a good habit to develop.

  • Yes to all of this! Getting your finances in order early is going to save you so much time, headache and stress later on.

  • Lane & Holly @ With Two Spoons

    Such true words! Start saving now…so important!

  • To bad I didn’t read this at an earlier age. I can probably pull it off when my minions move out. With 6 on 1 income, it’s not possible right now. It takes everything that we have to survive.

  • I’m happy I can stick to a budget. But in stuff like building credit… It just seems so hard!!

    xx, Melissa

  • great advice even after 30!
    – Joe @ http://hendrixjoseph.github.io/

  • This is such great advice! Finances can be tough at any stage of life, but especially in your 20s!

  • Neely

    I feel like its so easy in your 20s especially to think you have so much time to save and invest but its such a better habit to get started on asap!

  • Elizabeth Johnson

    This are all so important to learn and practice before turning 30! My husband is a really great saver so as soon as we got married we sat down and decided how much we would save each paycheck and how much we would put towards retirement. You can never get time back and learning these lessons is so important. Great post!

  • Yep yep super important! I need to start being even smarter with money. Just in case something happens!

  • Elizabeth Ghekiere

    I love these bits of financial advice. I live for my budget. I love when I hear other encouraging budgeting!

  • Adriana

    LOVE your tips! Seriously, it’s so easy to open a store card and SO easy to forget that you have a balance to pay! I’ve forgotten before and totally had every intention of paying it too. I’ve been working so hard to keep a great credit score too!

  • Christine Goulbourne

    Sound advice for the young and reckless! I did my best in my twenties, but health issues with my daughter messed with my credit. I just couldn’t keep up with with them – they sent me to collections even when I sent ten dollars a month! Healthy financial planning means covering all bases that could be potential financial risk factors! Thank you!

  • These are such great tips! Now that I am 30, I am so happy that I saved as much as I did!

  • Lisa

    I’m turning 30 soon (AH!). I do most of these but I need to work on my retirement, it’s tricky since I’m self-employed but I don’t want to just count on my husband’s retirement for us.

  • thesofieyahdiaries

    Oh, thanks for these tips!! I am in my early 20’s and still don’t have a credit card and considering getting it soon…


  • Great tips girl! Sometimes I wish a finance class is a requirement at university so that everyone can understand how beneficial it is to have an IRA or 401K! Side hustles are important too! Technically the generations before had them, but they called them their second and third jobs lol.

    Amanda @ Cupcake N Dreams

  • Anna Hubbard

    These are all amazing tips – especially #5! I work at a place where we’re required to solicit credit apps at a 25% interest rate. Talk about yikes!

  • Miss ALK

    Dave Ramsey has some fantastic financial tips for sure!

    xoxo A

  • Sondra Barker

    This is a fantastic list. I like love setting financial goals for myself. It really does make a difference in the end.

  • Megan Anne ❄️

    These are great tips! I’m defiantly going to be putting a ton of these to good use!

  • This is a super helpful list! Planning for your future/retirement is so important. That compound interest is so working in our favor in our 20s and people definitely don’t take advantage of it. I feel like people don’t give millennials enough credit for thinking about finances…I’m sure some of us don’t, but I see more and more people our age really saving, not going into debt, investing, etc.!

  • These are great tips! Especially since my student loan payments have begun, it is super important for me to budget. I always make sure to save a little every month too!

  • These are excellent tips. I think goal planning is huge. Definitly helps you stick to a plan and be smart with your money.

  • These tips are all so important to financial success! I totally agree that a side hustle is great to earn some extra cash on the side and you also never know when that could turn into your full time gig 😉

    Starting a 401k and working on your credit are also crucial things to do in your twenties!

    Kristen | http://www.sophisticatedgal.com

  • Kelsie Kleinmeyer

    I definitely think budgeting, retirement savings, and side hustles are all SUPER great ideas to get on at our age! Great tips!

  • These are all great tips! I’m all about saving and setting goals!

  • #6 is the hardest lesson to learn when your career first takes off! I’m still learning, but occasionally fall into the spending trap. Luckily, I have very little debt, but could improve in the saving arena. Great post!

  • Kimberly @ Berly’s Kitchen

    These are some awesome tips! I wish I would’ve learned these in my 20s. Here I am in my 30s and I know them, but I’m still digging out from mountain of debt from the previous decade. Kudos to you for figuring it out early.

  • Number 5 is nothing but the truth!

  • Sydney Power

    Very smart ideas, I have owing money so I am very quick to pay of anything!

  • Great post! Love the points about saving for retirement and living below your means. My husband is the financial guy in our household and he has really opened up my eyes to the benefits of doing both these things.

  • Yassss. All of this is so true. It feels so good to have your financials in order as you get older, and starting these habits young is key. There is definitely such a thing as good credit, however, and our great credit score has always been a great help to us if we’ve ever been in a jam.

  • Couldn’t agree with these more – especially number 6! That’s exactly how my husband and I were able to quit our jobs and go travel Europe for a while, because for six months we lived on one salary and saved the other for travel.

  • Yes to all of these! Building credit is such a huge and important thing for everyone! Learning about it and being smart with it is even more important!

  • Oby Grace

    Omg side hustle is a life saver in saving money!

    Oby Grace

  • Leeza Smith

    ive been “adulting” for about a year now and I’m so happy I started caring about my finances early on!! great post

  • I love this post Rachel! Yes you are right – every dollar has a place and the side hustle is KEY!

  • I love having a side hustle, but honestly it’s kind of sad that it’s practically a necessity these days.

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