Turning 31 Isn’t Life-Changing, but These Smart Money Moves Could Be
You waited so long to finally join those cool older friends out at the bar (well, legally, anyway). Patiently — or impatiently — counting down those few years until you hit that milestone of adulthood felt like an eternity. Then, finally, it arrived. Ah… 21. Sweet freedom.
That was 10 years ago. We know. We can’t believe it, either.
These days, going out has lost some of its allure. Cocktails? Oof. That sounds like a lot of work… Can I wear a T-shirt? Will I be back in time for “The Great British Baking Show?”
You’ve entered your 30s. You’re wiser now — more mellowed out. Refined, even. OK, maybe not quite refined, but you’re getting there. The 21-year-old you would’ve scoffed at making to-do lists. Now, looking at 31, you secretly enjoy getting things done. Kind of.
Well here’s another to-do list — 19 things to do before you turn 31 to make sure you’re managing your money like the refined adult you are.
21 Money Moves to Make Before You Turn 31
Here are some smart money management tips every 31-year-old should have under their belt. And don’t worry, you’ll be done in time to get back to drooling over scones and tarts — we promise.
1. Don’t Just Wish for Better Car Insurance
You have car insurance. Good job. It’s a part of adulting you’ve become accustomed to. But don’t you wish you could pay less for the same coverage?
Before you blow out those candles and waste that wish, there’s a better way.
One way you could save money is by shopping around and comparing rates at least once a year. Less than 50% of us do that, according to this survey from The Zebra, though 81% of us report wanting lower rates.
So, just like you compare the prices of flights, shoes and laptops before purchasing, why not compare car insurance?
And if you look through a digital marketplace called SmartFinancial, you could be getting rates as low as $22 a month — and saving yourself more than $700 a year.
It takes one minute to get quotes from multiple insurers, so you can see all the best rates side-by-side. Yep — in just one minute you could save yourself $715 this year. That’s some major cash back in your pocket.
So if you haven’t checked car insurance rates in a while, see how much you can save with a new policy.
2. You’ve Built a Great Life. Now Protect It
Chances are, by the time you reach 31, you’re at least a little established. Maybe you own a business. Maybe you’ve got a house — or kids, even.
The last thing you want is to leave them without any financial support once you’re gone.
We know; it seems a little early for this, but maybe it’s time to think about life insurance. It doesn’t have to be the uncomfortable experience you might expect. Some newcomers in the industry are updating the old model.
Ethos, for example, can get you term life insurance in less than 10 minutes — with no medical exam — for coverage up to $1 million. Ethos offers a digital application, and customer service is available if you have questions.
It partners with a major life insurance carrier to quickly offer policies as low as $6 a month. It’s helped thousands of folks access term life insurance, including independent contractors who use Uber, Postmates, TaskRabbit and other gig apps.
Don’t think about a life insurance policy as preparing for death; think about it as a birthday gift you’re giving yourself. Peace of mind.
3. Let This Company Help You Get Rid of Your Credit Card Debt
If you have debt, you definitely aren’t in the mood for criticism.
But you’ll need to open up, just a little bit, if you want to consider some options — like refinancing or consolidating — to help you pay that sum down faster.
Don’t worry. Find the right personal loan to meet your needs with Fiona.
To sign up for this consumer financial technology platform, complete three simple steps. Then Fiona searches the top online lenders to match you with a personalized loan offer. If your credit score is at least 620, Fiona’s platform can help you borrow up to $100,000 (no collateral needed) with fixed rates starting at 4.99% and terms from 24 to 84 months.
4. Get a Lower Interest Rate on Your Student Loans
For some, a lower interest rate could be one of the best steps to paying off student loans.
Try getting a lower interest rate on your federal and private loans by refinancing with a company like Credible. Other companies offer similar services, but we like that the average Credible user saves about two interest points on their current federal loans.
Refinancing will generally mean replacing your laundry list of loans with one (or a few) loans that bring all of your student debt under one umbrella.
This could simplify your life with one monthly payment, instead of several. It may also lower your monthly payment, improve your interest rate and/or give you more time to pay.
It might seem like a small difference, but a lower interest rate can mean a lot of savings over time. It’s helping grad Ashley Williams save more than $18,000 in interest over the life of her loan!
5. Start Investing for the Price of a Cup of a Coffee
In your 20s, you didn’t even really think about investing. You were just trying to make ends meet. But you’re in your 30s, now. You’re probably more prepared to dip your toes into the world of investing.
Here’s the key: You don’t need a big chunk of cash to get started.
You can start small with Acorns and stack up change over time with its “round-up” feature. That means if you spend $10.23 at the grocery store, 77 cents gets dropped into your Acorns account.
Then, the app does the whole investing thing for you.
The idea is you won’t miss the digital pocket change, and the automatic savings stack up faster than you’d think. For example, we reviewed how Penny Hoarder Dana Sitar was able to save at a rate of $420 a year!
The app is $1 a month for balances under $1 million, and you’ll get a $5 bonus when you sign up.
6. Get Paid When You Swipe Your Credit Card
At your age, you know enough to know that credit cards aren’t necessarily evil. You just have to be smart about how you use them. Oh, and isn’t it time you got one that gives you something back?
If you’re not using a rewards credit card for everyday purchases, you’re missing out on free money.
You just have to be sure you don’t get too carried away with those purchases — and that the card is paid off at the end of each billing period.
Here’s an option we like: It’s the Chase Freedom Unlimited card**. Its claim to fame? You’ll earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all your purchases. Plus, if you spend $500 in your first three months of opening the card (hi, groceries), you’ll pocket a $150 bonus.
There’s no annual fee, and the cash-back rewards don’t expire. Get signed up — and 0% intro APR for 15 months — here.
7. Get a Piece of the Real Estate Action
What did your dad always tell you about real estate? “It’s the way to go. They’re not making any more land!”
Want a cool way to celebrate entering your 30s? Invest in real estate.
At just 35 and 29, Christopher and Meghan Miller are semi-retired because of this kind of investment.
In addition to four rental properties, the couple has invested in a diversified portfolio of real estate projects across the country — from Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles — through an automated investment experience.
“I don’t have to manage them; I don’t have to do the work to improve the properties; I don’t have to find tenants, evict tenants,” Christopher says.
Unlike traditional real estate investments, the Millers back these national building projects through an online platform called Fundrise*. Since 2016, Fundrise has paid dividends each quarter. (Note: As with any investment, past performance isn’t indicative of future results.)
How much fun will you have over the next decade or two keeping an eye on your investment properties? Finally, something to talk about at neighborhood cookouts.
8. Negotiate Everything — Especially Your Bills
You’re a little older and a little wiser. You’re learning just about everything is negotiable.
That doesn’t mean that you want to go through the hassle of negotiating it all yourself. That’s why it’s time to call in a robot.
The negotiation bot Trim will negotiate your cable or internet bills down for you.
It works with Comcast, Time Warner, Charter and other major providers.
You can sign up simply with Facebook or your email address. Then, upload a PDF of your most recent bill, and Trim’s AI-powered system gets to work. If at first it doesn’t succeed, it’ll keep negotiating until it can save you some money.
Also, if you have any outages, Trim believes you deserve a credit, and it’ll handle that for you.
Trim takes 33% of the savings tab, and you get the rest.
Your 20-year-old self would never believe this is possible. Being an adult rules!
9. Give Your Retirement Fund a Boost
Remember when retirement seemed like some concept set for the far, far distant future?
Yeah, that future’s coming up kinda fast, isn’t it?
You have a 401(k) — kudos for that, but is it doing what you need it to?
If you’re like most people, you have no idea whether your 401(k) is on pace for your retirement or just sputtering along.
Chances are, it could be doing a lot better. Take control with help from Blooom, an SEC-registered investment advisory firm that can optimize and monitor your retirement account for you and keep it speeding toward retirement.
It just takes a few minutes to get a free 401(k) analysis that will show you whether your investments are allocated properly and whether you’re losing money paying hidden investment fees. It’ll even tell you just how much more money your account could earn by the time you want to retire.
After that, if you sign up, it’s just $10 per month to have Blooom monitor and maximize your 401(k). Bonus: Penny Hoarders get the first month free with the code PNNYHRD.
10. Get Smart About Shopping
By 31, you’re probably a shopping pro — no denying that. But what if you could go from a shopping pro to a shopping expert?
By simply saving your receipts, you can start earning cash back when you shop. And if earning money every time you walk into Target doesn’t scream, “I just leveled up in adulthood,” I don’t know what does.
If you’re not earning cash back when you shop, you’re basically missing out on free money.
We know it sounds strange, but Ibotta will pay you cash for taking pictures of your grocery store receipts.
Here’s how it works: Before heading to the store, search for items on your shopping list within the Ibotta app. When you get home, snap a photo of your receipt and scan the items’ barcodes.
Plus, you’ll get a $5 sign-up bonus after uploading your first receipt.
Don’t feel like leaving home? No worries. You can earn cash back online when you shop through Ebates, a cash-back site that rewards you nearly every time you buy something online.
We love it around here, because it’s an instant way to save on everything you buy. For example, Ebates gives you 10% cash-back on online purchases at Walmart.
Plus you’ll get a free $10 gift card to Walmart for giving the site a try.
To earn your gift card:
- Sign up for Ebates with your email or Facebook account.
- Use the Ebates portal the next time you need to buy something. It’s connected to thousands of stores, including Walmart, Amazon and Target. You’ll need to make your first purchase through the site within 90 days and spend at least $25.
- Your account will be credited with rewards points you can cash in for your $10 Walmart gift card.
11. Protect Your Home and Cool Stuff
You’ve worked hard and for a long time to create your home. The stuff you’ve accumulated, whether you rent or own a home, is worth protecting.
If you have homeowners or renters insurance, you might be paying too much for it. Try shopping around.
If you’ve never looked into it, start by getting a free quote.We recommend the online insurance company Lemonade, through which renters insurance starts at $5 a month and homeowners insurance starts at $25 a month.
Beyond affordable rates, Lemonade adds a layer of transparency you don’t often see in the insurance world. Instead of profiting extra when it doesn’t have to pay out claims, the company keeps a set 20% of your premium for itself, and 80% goes into a pool for paying claims. Money left over after paying claims each year goes to a cause of your choice.
That also means Lemonade isn’t going to be super stingy about granting customers the claims they deserve — ’cause the money isn’t going into its pockets.
Lemonade is available in Arizona, California, Connecticut Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island and Washington, D.C.
OK, so now that you know Lemonade has your back, here’s how to get a free quote. It’s easy — and you can do it all online. (Nope, it won’t hurt your credit score!)
- Click “Check Our Prices.”
- Get to know Maya, Lemonade’s chatbot. She’s nice and will ask you a few questions.
- Once you complete the application, you’ll receive a quote within a minute or two.
Plus, at the end of the day, you’ll feel better knowing your hard-earned belongings are insured. Now that you’re officially a 30-something , it’s time to squeeze the most out of life and your finances.
12. Start a Budget. All the Cool Kids Are Doing It
Clarity Money* is a free app that helps you see, organize, and take control of your finances.
The way it works is simple. You just download the app, connect your existing accounts, and get ready to learn more about where your money’s disappearing to… and how to keep more of it.
Clarity Money analyzes and uses your spending history to provide budgetary insights. It’ll show you exactly how much you spend in different categories, like bars and restaurants, as a percentage of your total expenses.
But it’s not just a recap of your weekend spending with pretty graphics.
It also gives you the tools and information you need to start making better financial choices. And they’re all super-easy to use, and accessible right inside the app.
13. Get Rewarded Just for Paying Your Bills on Time
Your mom probably gave you an allowance for washing the dishes and sweeping the floor when you were a kid. Now all you get for doing it is a kitchen that’s clean for, like, 15 minutes.
As an adult, you don’t typically get rewards for doing things that are expected of you… until now.
This app kind of rules them all: MoneyLion, a free all-in-one app for managing your personal finances.
MoneyLion offers rewards to help you develop healthy financial habits and will literally pay you for logging onto the app.
You can earn points in the rewards program by paying bills on time, connecting your bank account or downloading the mobile app.
You can redeem those points for gift cards to retailers like Amazon, Apple and Walmart.
If credit cards aren’t your thing, MoneyLion is like having a rewards credit card without the temptation to overspend.
The app also connects with all your bank, credit card, student loan and other financial accounts. Based on your income and spending patterns, it offers personalized advice to help you save money, reduce your debt and improve your credit.
14. Fix Your Credit the Easy Way: Have Someone Else Do It
Do you get phone calls and mail from debt collectors? If you do, we’re sorry to say your credit score probably isn’t awesome. And that means you’ll have to pay more to buy a home, or rent or buy a car, among other things.
Collection Shield 360, a free credit repair service, helps people clean up their credit reports and deal with collection agencies.
With a free basic membership, it contacts your debt collectors to have negative marks on your credit report removed, and it provides you with credit-bureau dispute letters that can help scrub your credit report.
The service helped 31-year-old server Tabatha Pankop deal with lingering bills from T-Mobile, Bright House Networks and Verizon. Her credit score jumped up nearly 200 points, enabling her to move into a better apartment and start looking for a townhouse to buy.
Premium membership includes monthly updates of your credit score and collection accounts. That costs $1 for a two-month trial; then it’s $9.48 per month.
15. Get Some Help Paying Your Credit Card Bills
Carrying more than one credit card balance can feel a bit like herding cats. Just when you think you have one under control, you realize you’ve let a different one slip away.
High interest rates and late fees can make it feel like you’ll never get those bills under control.
That’s where Tally comes in. It’s a simple app that lets you store and manage your credit card payments in one place, optimizing the amounts and times.
Simply download the iOS app, scan in your credit cards, and if you qualify (with a minimum credit score of around 675), Tally will give you a line of credit with an interest rate between 7.9% and 19.9%* and use the lower interest rate to make managing your payments easy.
No more missed payments. Lower interest rates. All in one place. And don’t worry, Tally uses bank-level security, so your information is safe.
Tally is currently available in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.
*Your APR (which is the same as your interest rate) will depend on your credit history and varies with the market based on Prime Rate. Accurate as of July 2018.
16. See if You Can’t Cut Back on Your Monthly Bills
It’s important to make sure you’re getting a good deal on any product or service you use, and this is a lot easier than you might think.
Hop on Squeeze, a website that allows you to compare rates for mortgages, auto loans, student loans, renters insurance, and mobile and internet plans (among others) for free.
Say you want to compare internet prices. Based on your location, the site aggregates all your options and shows you companies alongside price points and download speeds.
17. Get a Better Mortgage
If you’re still paying interest on your mortgage at an old rate, refinancing could help you take advantage of better interest rates and save thousands of dollars over time.
But getting a new mortgage can take months and can be a hassle — and it’s enough to make you throw your hands up in defeat and just go on living with the uncomfortably high interest rate from years ago.
And… you might find out in the end it’s not even worth it.
Before you take the leap, we found a company that wants to help you avoid a common mortgage mistake.
18. Get Some Passive Income
If there’s anything you know at nearly 40 years old, it’s that passive is OK. No, it’s better than OK. Passive is great. You know, like a
If there’s anything you know now that you’re in your 30s, it’s that passive is OK. No, it’s better than OK. Passive is great. You know, like a nap.
Passive income is exactly what it sounds like: income that comes to you without you lifting a finger — at least, after the initial setup.
While you can’t expect free money to just appear in your bank account, you can take steps to set yourself up with a cash flow that comes in automatically with little to no upkeep.
Why is it important to have a source of passive income? Well, Brad Hines, who estimates 10 to 15% of his income is passive, puts it this way:
“When zero of your money is passive income, that inherently means every minute you’re not working, you’re not making money.”
To make the most of your down time, set up a passive income stream of your own.
Passive income sources can range from really big (think: owning a business) to really tiny (think: owning a gumball machine).
If you don’t mind the initial work of setting up your passive income streams, the payoff and peace of mind can be sweet. Let’s face it, you don’t really want to work any harder than you need to anymore.
19. Start Saving to Send the Kids to College
If you already have kids, you know just how expensive they can be. If you think it’s bad now, just wait until tuition, rent and all of the other bills that come along with college start rolling in.
Whatever your situation, it’s time to start thinking about saving for your kids’ futures.
It’s important to think about all the ways you can save for your child’s future, such as a low-risk savings bond or a 529 plan to cover college expenses. Why?
Because if they don’t go to college they may still be living with you. Forever. For. Ever.
20. Get Your 21-Year-Old Body Back
What better gift can you give yourself than better health and fitness?
In 2016, Teresa Suarez was frustrated by the thought of a possible future in which she continued to ignore her health — and by her own lack of motivation.
“I knew I could be at 300 pounds within months,” she recalls.
So Suarez signed up for HealthyWage — a company that will literally pay you to lose weight.
She bet $125 per month that she would lose 60 pounds in six months.* When she achieved that goal, she won a whopping $2,415.28 — more than tripling her initial investment in herself.
Betting on herself and knowing she would lose the money if she didn’t follow through was the kickstart Suarez needed to actually make lasting lifestyle changes.
Depending on how much you have to lose, how long you give yourself to do it and how much money you put on the table, you could win up to $10,000!
Be like Teresa, and give yourself an awesome birthday gift. Then go ahead and have a piece of cake. You’ve earned it.
*Current minimum bet is $200/month.
This content is not provided by the bank advertiser. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the bank advertiser. This site may be compensated through the bank advertiser Affiliate Pro.
Disclosure: Clarity Money compensates us when you download the app using the links we provide.