For most people in their 30s, life can feel like a breathless uphill run on a downward escalator. Everything seems to expand: families, homes, social circles, career responsibilities, and income. Managing it all requires more of your immediate attention, so it’s not surprising that retirement planning tends to fall lower on the list of high priorities. For many, just making it through the day is all the long-term planning they can handle.
But the future — and your retirement — isn’t going to give you a pass because you had so much on your plate when you were 30-something. Fortunately, there are some simple things you can do in your 30s to start maneuvering toward retirement even if you’re stretched thin right now.
Adopt an effective mindset
Key to solving this dilemma — a future demanding attention and a present with no time — is to keep the mindset that supports retirement goals uppermost. If you don’t push yourself to think about retirement planning, it won’t get done and you will slowly eliminate the opportunity to make time work for you. (Not to mention how difficult planning for retirement will become if you start in your 40s or 50s.)
On the other hand, if you keep retirement planning uppermost in your mind in your 30s, you naturally set a framework for your decision-making process. You begin to recognize that certain decisions make it more difficult to reach financial independence but others can help you reach it — like these, for instance:
Taking on debt makes reaching retirement more difficult…
The biggest trap of a raise is thinking it enables us to make higher payments. Any financial strategy involving making payments is often not the best one for your retirement. Case in point, when we lived in Southern California, leasing cars was very popular. And every time a coworker of mine got a raise, it wasn’t long before she sported a better car, with most of the raise going to the higher lease payment. My boss and I convinced her that using her promotions and raises this way was effectively stealing from her future. We kept prodding her to get out of that trap, and she has thanked us many times for helping her see it as a problem.