Another personal finance blogger recently asked me to contribute to a post he was writing about money mistakes people in their 30s make and how to avoid them. I was happy to help with my best financial lesson.
As with most finance questions I come across, this one got me thinking about my own money mistakes and the financial lessons I wish I had taken full advantage of in my 30s. Here are six financial lessons, most of which I followed:
Buy real estate ASAP
Owning a home isn't for everyone. Renting makes more sense if your job is mobile and you're not sure where you'll be living in a few years. Renting also makes sense if it's a lot cheaper than owning a home.
My answer to the curious blogger about financial lessons was to buy real estate when you get the chance to. I don't mean just when it fits into your finances and lifestyle — such as having a steady job and being married. My point, which I didn't elaborate on in my quick response to him, was that buying real estate as an investment when you're young can be a smart move many years later if you bought at a time when the real estate market was down.
You don't necessarily have to live in the house you're buying, though that does have good tax benefits.
For example: About 15 years ago a relative bought a townhouse in a nearby city. The townhouse was next to a major shopping center that would only get bigger in the coming years as more people moved to the area. Even back then, it was obvious to me that it was a growing area and that home prices would only go up. They did, and are now worth 10 times what they were 15 years ago.
I didn't buy a townhome there then, but wish I had taken out a bank loan and got a second job, if needed, to buy one and then have tenants pay the mortgage from then on. That's the first financial lesson I'd offer.
Save for investments
One thing I wish I did more of in my 30s financially was save more money for investing. Like everyone else, I'm busy working so I can pay the bills and hopefully have a little extra each month to enjoy dinner out or something, along with saving money for retirement and an emergency fund.
But if you can afford it in your 30s, it can help to save some fun money that you're willing to put into an investment. The caveat is you have to be willing to lose that money. While that obviously isn't the main objective, it's a possibility to consider in this financial lesson.
You don't want to look back years later and regret that you didn't buy Apple stock at $10 a share when it was being beaten down and you knew it was going to bounce back. (Yes, this happened to me.)
While any amount is good, I'd recommend $5,000. It's enough to hurt your bank account and enough to make you think hard about the potential investment. As you'll see from other financial lessons I offer here, having money set aside for investments or something else is key to making the most of your finances in the long run. ...continue reading