How I got my sh*t together – Important money lessons I learned in my 30s

January 27, 2022

Oh, I remember my twenties….! All those boozy parties, the many adventurous trips around the world, the outings and activities – I remember it all!

I also distinctly remember blowing all of my hard-earned money away on daytime brunches and an expensive rental in midtown Manhattan for three years. I also shopped and gathered an impressive collection of designer purses and shoes while living in the luxurious city of Dubai during seven fabulous years.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret spending all of that money. In all honesty, those years rocked! 

My thirties though were the years I finally took control of my finances. After having accumulated a good amount of debt, I had a serious wake-up call and finally decided it was officially time to become an adult and learn to make better money decisions.  All of my not-so-wise decisions helped me understand my relationship with money, view things differently, and finally learn some very important money lessons.

Building savings should be a priority 

I used to do what most people do: pay the bills, spend, and then save whatever was left over – which was usually not much. Turns out, I was doing it all backwards! You should save FIRST and then spend whatever is left over. This mind-blowing discovery totally changed the way I approach my finances. 

Now as soon as I get my paycheck, I have automated transfers to my investment portfolios, retirement accounts, and emergency savings account. I then proceed to pay my bills and whatever is left over I get to have fun with!

Don’t use a credit card unless you already have the amount in cash

If you’re someone who regularly spends above your means, DO NOT get a credit card. I made that mistake, not once, but twice. And I tell you, it’s not pretty. Your interest racks up, and you end up drowning in debt before you know it. After consolidating my debt many years ago and paying it down fully, I now use my credit card only so I can get points and travel rewards, but I promptly pay my full credit card bill the moment I get my pay check. Lesson learned.

A relationship forces you to compromise

This one was huge for me. I spent many years working in Dubai, New York, Paris, buying whatever I pleased and doing basically whatever I wanted with my money. Suddenly, I found myself in a serious relationship in my thirties, arguing about trip budgets, furniture, groceries, what car to buy, basically almost every single purchase. I had not realized that two people who come together could actually have very different money mindsets and I would have to learn to compromise. When you’re a couple you start to view things jointly; you may have shared future goals, you spend time together and hence it’s only natural to adapt your spending – and your savings – for these shared objectives.

I’ll always keep some form of independent finances because I strongly believe it’s empowering and important; however the largest portion is now shared.  

An emergency fund is crucial

After a series of life emergencies, I quickly realized I needed to always have a certain amount of savings stowed away which I would not touch unless in case of, well, emergency! Your washing machine can break down; your pet may need a life-saving operation; all sorts of things could happen in this crazy thing we call life. I learned I don’t want to be scared of emergencies anymore; I simply want to be well prepared.

What are some money lessons you learned later in life?

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