How To Invest in Your 30s

Your 30s can feel like the prime of your life. You survived the learning curve of your 20s, are likely set in your career, and most importantly, you have discovered yourself. 

In this decade, you strike a balance of maturity and youth — with perhaps just a few gray hairs. 

But what if you neglected to start investing until now? And what if you don’t know where to even start? If you’re worried you missed the train to retire wealthy, the good news is time is still on your side.

Erika Taught Me

  • Prioritize paying down any high-interest debt, but keep other goals, like homeownership and starting a family, in the forefront of your mind.
  • Start with your employer’s 401(k) plan or your own IRA — and don’t be afraid of riskier investments.
  • It’s a good idea to invest in yourself, including your health. Life and health insurance protect you and your family’s future.

. . .

Pay Off High-Interest Debt

If you’re getting a late start on your investments, that’s okay. But something you’ll want to take care of sooner rather than later is paying off any unpaid high-interest debt.

High-interest debt is generally considered anything with an interest rate higher than the average returns you’d see in the market. So, any debt with a rate around 7% or higher falls into the high-interest category. Think credit cards, student loans, and other types of personal loans like car loans.

Not paying off high-interest debt costs you in the long run, because you pay interest (and possibly even fees) to maintain this debt. And you are losing out on the potential growth you could get from investing the money you’re paying on debt. 

READ MORE: How To Pay Off Credit Card Debt

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Start Thinking About Retirement 

The 30 years (give or take) you have until retirement may seem distant, but the reality is it will be here before you know it. And the sooner you start, the better off you’ll be.

If your employer offers a 401(k) plan, start by contributing a percentage of your income to it. 401(k) plans are tax-advantaged, employer-sponsored plans and a great way to save for retirement. 

It’s even better if your employer offers an employer match — where they voluntarily match a percentage of your contributions. Yes, this is free money! 

If your employer doesn’t offer a 401(k) or if you are self-employed, you can open your own individual retirement account (IRA) and fund it yourself. You can even open one online through investing apps like Webull or Robinhood.

IRAs are also tax-advantaged, and the most commonly chosen for self-employed individuals are Roth IRAs (contributions are made after you pay taxes).

READ MORE: Roth IRA vs. Traditional IRA: What’s the Difference?

Maintain (Some) Risk

While you may not have as much time as if you started investing 10 years ago, you still have plenty of it. Because of this, it’s important to still maintain some level of risk.

In your 30s, you can have a higher risk tolerance because you still have time to recover from any temporary dips in your portfolio.

At this age, you likely have 30 to 40 years until retirement. This is referred to as your time horizon, and having a longer time horizon allows you to weather any temporary storms from the fluctuations of the market.

As well, compounding interest will still work in your favor in your 30s. Compound interest means you earn returns on both your original investment and any interest already earned. Interest on interest. 

The earlier you start (even if it’s in your 30s), the more time your investment will have to grow and compound.

READ MORE: How To Build Your Core Portfolio

Plan for a Family or the Future

In your 30s there is possibly something else on your mind: your more immediate future. Planning for retirement is important, but you may also be considering buying a home or maybe even starting a family. 

So, naturally, you’ll want to leave room in your plan for a potential mortgage payment and the high costs associated with raising a child.

Homeownership is a huge accomplishment, and also a solid investment. The security of owning your own home protects you from the fluctuating rental market. Plus, property is one of the best investments you can make, considering the real estate market tends to trend upwards.

For example, in 2020, the median value of a home in the United States was $119,600, according to Census data. In April 2024, that number jumped to $420,800.

This is a 252% increase in just four years. Imagine the potential future value your home will have in 24 years. 

Lastly, when it comes to saving for children, don’t only think about the costs of childcare and necessities but also about setting them up for financial success. 

You can start making contributions to your child’s college fund through programs like a 529 Educational Plan. These plans are state-sponsored, tax-advantaged accounts to be used toward qualified educational expenses. 

If you’re unsure if your child wants a college education, you can also set them up with a custodial savings or brokerage account or a custodial Roth IRA.

Invest in Insurance 

You can’t enjoy everything you’re saving for if you don’t have good health. So, it is super crucial you invest in a good health insurance plan. 

If you’re employed, your employer may offer a decent insurance plan that meets your family’s needs. If you’re self-employed, you’ll need to shop around for some plans. 

You may also want to look into supplemental insurance plans like disability and life insurance:

  • Disability insurance protects your income in the event of an accident or health emergency that prevents you from working.
  • Life insurance secures your family’s financial future once you have passed on. There are online marketplaces like Policygenius that make it easy to search for and compare different plans.

Another thing to consider in your 30s is creating an estate plan. This includes things like a will, power of attorney, and other insurance policies.

FAQs

What investments are best in your 30s?

When it comes to investing in your 30s, a good starting point is contributions to retirement accounts like a 401(k) or IRA. 

But, it's also best to maintain a pretty diverse portfolio striking a balance of risk. You can achieve this with individual stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and index funds.

You will also want to balance your investments with less risky investments like government and corporate bonds.

Investments like real estate are also good, and this can include your primary home, rental properties, or real estate investment trusts (REITs). 

How much should you have saved in your 30s?

While we all have different circumstances, many experts suggest that by your 30s, it’s wise to have one to two times your annual salary saved for retirement. 

So, if you have a salary of $60,000, you will want to have $60,000 to $120,000 saved in your retirement account.

How aggressive should I be with investing in my 30s?

Because you still have some time, you can still be pretty aggressive while investing in your 30s. But it’s important to align this aggression with your personal risk tolerance and your financial goals. 

Ask yourself when you want to retire and what your specific financial goals are.  

TL;DR: Investing In Your 30s

If you’ve waited until your 30s to start investing, it’s not too late to catch up. Start by paying off any high-interest debts and investing in your employer’s 401(k) plan or an IRA that you manage.

You can afford to still be a bit aggressive and riskier with your investments, but make sure you also invest in your health and future through insurance. 

It’s never too early to plan your future and it’s never too late to start investing!

For more investing advice, check out these episodes of the Erika Taught Me podcast:

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I'm an award-winning lawyer and personal finance expert featured in Inc. Magazine, CNBC, the Today Show, Business Insider and more. My mission is to make personal finance accessible for everyone. As the largest financial influencer in the world, I'm connected to a community of over 20 million followers across TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. I'm also the host of the podcast Erika Taught Me. You might recognize me from my viral tagline, "I read the fine print so you don't have to!"

I'm a graduate of Georgetown Law, where I founded the Georgetown Law Entrepreneurship Club, and the University of Notre Dame. I discovered my passion for personal finance after realizing I was drowning in over $200,000 of student debt and needed to take action-ultimately paying off my student loans in under 2 years. I then spent years as a corporate lawyer representing Fortune 500 companies, but I quit because I realized I wanted to have an impact; I wanted to help real people and teach them that you can create a financial future for yourself.

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Advertiser Disclosure

Our aim is to help you make financial decisions with confidence through our objective article content and reviews. Erika.com is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as MileValue.com. This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our aim is to help you make financial decisions with confidence through our objective article content and reviews. Erika.com is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as MileValue.com. This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.