April 18, 2024

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Your 30s are a decade often marked by big financial steps, from buying your first home to switching jobs to saving for future children.

With more working years under your belt, you’re likely making more money than you did in your 20s — but it can still be confusing to know exactly what you should be doing with it to set yourself up for financial success into your 40s and beyond. 

Here are three smart things to do with your cash as a thirtysomething, according to two certified financial planners.

1. Continue eliminating debt

While paying off debt should also be a focus for those in their 20s, you could be even better positioned in your 30s to focus on tackling outstanding payments, because you’re likely making more money, says Andrew Fincher, a CFP and financial advisor at VLP Financial Advisors. 

“When you’re in your 30s and you have the ability to pay down more, that’s a great time frame to really try to not have that debt extended into your 40s,” he says.

2. Consider opening a 529 account

If you have or plan on having children, your 30s are a good time to think about opening a 529 college savings account to fund their future education — especially given that the average cost of college in the U.S. is over $36,000 per year and growing.

A 529 plan is a tax-advantaged savings account sponsored and operated by all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Earnings and withdrawals from a 529 are tax-free if they are used for qualified education expenses.

If you open a 529 account when your child is born, you’ll have around 18 years to save and grow your investments, says Fincher. Doing so will make it less likely that your kid will have to worry about student debt when they’re older.

State tax deductions for 529 contributions also make these college savings plans appealing, though every state is different. Maximum contribution limits also vary by state, ranging from $235,000 to $529,000, according to NerdWallet.

3. Boost your retirement savings

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