Understand Your Finances
The key savings tips to master in your 30s
This is part of a broader Chase initiative to encourage more Americans to save money.
Saving more money is a priority for many Americans who want to take their finances to the next level. But once you hit your 30s, you'll want to get serious about money.
After all, you may have recently tied the knot—or, you're planning to. Perhaps you're thinking about other life changes, such as having a baby, launching a business, or even going to back to school to earn or finish a college degree.
Whatever your goals, having some extra cash in your bank account will help you reach your personal and professional objectives faster.
To help you grow your bank account this year and beyond, here are six key savings tips to master:
1. Dump unwanted subscriptions
You can easily save $50 a month, or $600 annually, just by dumping unwanted subscriptions and cancelling recurring charges for things you no longer want, need or use.
From subscription box services and magazine subscriptions, to DVD rental services and dating apps, those fees can eat into your budget—and make it harder to save money.
One or two subscriptions for $10 or $20 might not seem like a lot. But check your credit card statements and bank accounts. When you start adding them up, you'll see it's actually a lot of money.
2. Pay down excessive credit card debt
Pew researchers have found that 80 percent of Americans owe some form of debt: a mortgage, car note, a student loan, credit card or medical debt. Collectively, Americans have $13 trillion in consumer debt.
Some 54 percent of millennials over age 30 with college debt are worried about how they'll repay their student loans.
But for those who can't save much, it's often the credit card debt that's the culprit.
Over half of all millennials with credit cards carry a balance each month.
Start to aggressively tackle credit card bills by always paying more than the minimum due—double or triple that payment, if you can manage it—and you'll more quickly free up cash that can be socked away into savings.
3. Turbocharge your savings
Some 30-somethings look at rent, utilities, transportation and other expenses and think, "I can't afford to save." The truth is, you can't afford not to save—especially since emergencies can strike at any time.
To make your savings work for you, be sure to contribute to any retirement plan offered by your employer, such as a 401(k), 403(b), 457 or Thrift Savings Plan. Many employers offer matching contributions, making the sacrifice to save worth it, and essentially giving you free money.
Putting that cash away now, in your 30s, gives your savings decades to reap the benefits of compounded interest.
4. Use your tax refund wisely
Another easy way to save more money in 2018 is to bank a good portion of your income tax refund check.
Most people let the government take too much taxes from their paychecks. That's why 3 out of 4 working Americans receive income tax refunds from Uncle Sam. And the IRS says the average tax refund check in 2017 was roughly $3,000.
If you do receive a hefty windfall, be sure to save a portion of it; saving half or more of that tax refund check could go a long way!
Also, as tempting as it might be: don't blow your refund on frivolous spending. Once you set aside 25 to 50 percent for savings, make a plan for how you'll use the rest of that cash wisely. A few good uses for your tax refund check include: knocking down credit card debt; putting additional savings into a retirement account; or making an extra mortgage payment on a home loan.
5. Score quick wins with baby steps
Don't set massive, unrealistic goals, such as: "I'll save $10,000 this year," if you didn't even manage to save $1,000 last year. Instead, take baby steps, month by month.
Set relatively easy, short-term goals that you can actually accomplish and that keep you motivated. Example: can you save just $50 or $100 in the next month? Even better: can you do it consistently for three months? Each month of savings success builds your financial wellness and your capacity to keep on saving money.
6. Get an accountability partner
This is someone to cheer you on, give you good advice and—when necessary—give you a kick in the pants to keep you on track. Your accountability partner can be a financial advisor, or a close friend or relative who is economically responsible.
7. Automate your finances whenever possible
Make good use of financial apps and other technology—like text alerts from your bank—to boost your savings efforts. For instance, your bank can text you if you've met a pre-set savings target for the month, or if you've exceeded the amount of spending you've budgeted for various categories, such as shopping or eating out.
By implementing the seven tips highlighted above, you'll not only save more money during your 30s, you'll also establish healthy financial habits for decades to come.
Lynnette Khalfani-Cox is a Chase News contributor. Her work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, among other media outlets.