Money Moments: 8 dos and don’ts for saving money in your 30s

Smart financial decisions in your 30s can have a powerfully positive impact on your future.

Tags: Goals, Planning, Savings
Published: February 13, 2019

When you’re young, it’s easy to live in the now and not think long term. But saving money in your 30s can help set you up for financial success. Here are eight tips to navigate those years wisely and stay focused on saving.


1. Do pay off credit card debt

According to the Federal Reserve, half of Americans can’t pay off their credit card debt in full each month. Especially during uncertain times, if you're unable to make your monthly payments, reach out to your credit issuers to see what remedies are available to you. If you are able to make payments, there are some strategies you can follow. A 2016 Harvard Business Review report2 supports the approach advocated by many financial experts: pay off the smallest debt first. Why? Doing so will likely have a powerful effect on your sense of progress. Plus, small wins will keep you motivated to continue paying down debt. 


2. Don’t buy into get-rich-quick schemes or sketchy investment opportunities

Remember that real, sustained wealth is built over time. Let “slow and steady wins the race” be your money mantra. Not sure about this approach? You might want to read, If You Can: How Millennials Can Get Rich Slowly

Don’t fall into an overspending trap when it comes to comparing yourself to others on social media.

3. Do be careful about your social media use

A recent study1 found about 60 percent of millennials reported feeling “inadequate” about their own lives and possessions after seeing the lifestyles of their peers on social media (think vacation snapshots and the like). As a result, 57 percent said they parted with money they weren’t planning on spending.


4. Don’t go it alone

Unless you’re in the personal finance industry or your favorite hobby is tracking your investments, tap the wisdom of an expert or professional who can coach you through the financial opportunities and pitfalls that exist in your 30s.


5. Do save at least 15 percent of your gross income for retirement

That may sound high, but remember your employer’s 401(k) contribution or match counts toward that 15 percent.


6. Don’t keep saving the same amount of money each month after you receive a bump in salary, either because of a job change or a promotion

Approach saving as a percentage of your income, not as a fixed dollar amount that stays stagnant over time. In other words, look at salary increases as an opportunity to save more – not spend more.


Take advantage of tax returns, work bonuses and cash gifts to increase your savings.

7. Do apply tax returns, work bonuses and cash gifts from relatives toward your savings goals

It’s tempting to spend your tax return, holiday bonus or birthday money on something fun. But you’ll cheat yourself of the financial security that comes with paying down loans or adding to existing savings accounts. If “surprise” money lands in your lap, your first call should be to your personal banker. He or she can help you determine how to best take advantage of the unexpected windfall.  


8. Don’t underestimate the importance of an emergency fund

Aim for at least $2,000. That’s the amount the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has determined is the average amount a consumer will need to resolve a crisis. A sufficient emergency fund can help cushion unexpected financial blows – and leave your other savings accounts beautifully intact. 




Saving today for a better tomorrow can start when you open a U.S. Bank savings account


COVID-19 resources at your fingertips. If you have questions about saving or navigating your finances during COVID-19, we’re here to help. Click here to learn more about how you can safely bank via your mobile device, online, by phone or in-person at a branch.


1Generations Ahead Study.” Allianz. 2018.
2Research: The Best Strategy for Paying Off Credit Card Debt.” Harvard Business Review. 2016.