6 Money Moves All 30-Something Moms Should Be Making

By the time we hit 30, we're pretty good at keeping our heads above water, at least when it comes to our money. At that point, we've been dealing with income and budgeting for bills and insurance long enough to not be drowning entirely in debt, and that's pretty much the minimum you can ask for while you're still in your 20s. But your 30s and beyond are a time for really, actually swimming in your financial life, and that can only be done if you make the necessary moves now.

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So what does that look like for 30-something moms? Fidelity Investments's vice president of women investors, Marina Buatti, says steps to a better financial life look similar to the steps you took in your 20s, just bigger and badder and more important.

  1. Get real about what you're spending and create a budget that matches. "While we all know that having a budget in place is smart at every stage of life, it's doubly important when you're trying to figure out how to pay for all the extra expenses that seem to come along with having children," Buatti says. Tools like Fidelity's 50/15/5 guide help lay groundwork for finding money to save (and to treat yourself) -- both of which are key to a healthy financial lifestyle.

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    "This exercise will also help you identify what you can and should cut out that may have been part of your life before kids," she explains. "This was the hardest part for me. It's pretty scary for all of us to see it down on paper, but once you get over that initial shock, you reach acceptance and understand your financial situation."

  2. Open a 529 account for college savings. A 529 is a tax-advantaged savings account that'll help pay for expenses like tuition, books, and room and board when the time comes for your kids to head to college. The sooner you can start contributing, the more helpful it will be, Buatti notes, but it doesn't have to be just you adding money.

    "Contributions to a college savings plan can make a great gift for birthdays and other holidays," she says. "Grandparents and others are often happy to contribute to a college fund, in addition to or in lieu of yet another onesie or toy."

  3. Build an emergency fund. "Having an emergency fund is a smart way to protect yourself and your family in case something unexpected happens," Buatti notes. "Fidelity suggests putting aside three to six months' worth of living expenses, just in case your car breaks down, a pipe bursts, or you lose your job. You can have the money deducted from your paycheck automatically to make it easier, or put it into a separate account just for emergencies."

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  4. Look into life insurance. Buatti says that life insurance doesn't feel important when it's just you, but once you have little ones relying on you, it becomes critical.

    "Typically, the younger and healthier you are, the less expensive it may be," she explains. "Additionally, you may want to look into disability insurance, which protects you in the event that an illness or injury prevents you from working. Also important: Make sure to review and update your beneficiaries annually."

  5. Continue investing in your own retirement or savings plan. "Moms are notorious for putting everyone else before themselves, but taking care of your own future is important too," Buatti emphasizes. "Whether you're working or not, continue to contribute to a retirement savings account, even if it's small amounts."

    She also notes that a spousal IRA is a really good option if you're working from home while simultaneously raising kids. If you're married it might be the best place to put your money for now.

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    Whatever you choose, Buatti explains that you should keep an eye on where it's going. "If you've been saving for a number of years, make sure to take the time to look at how your retirement savings plan is invested -- it's important to make sure the money you've worked hard to save is working hard for you!"

  6. Have a conversation about money. No fun, we know. But Buatti says it's important to communicate about money with your whole family, young and old alike.

    "Start by making sure you and your partner are on the same page about the basics -- spending, saving, and investing for the future," she says. "That includes making sure your family will be taken care of in an emergency. For many of us, we may be responsible for helping out with aging parents. Set aside time to understand their plans for the future, and what your role may be in supporting them or managing their finances when the time comes."

    As for your kids, Buatti suggests talking to them about the cost of college and how the choices they eventually make in planning and choosing a school could impact those expenses. "Talk about how your family will pay for college, what they may be expected to contribute, and the potential of student loan debt. The more you plan ahead, the better prepared you'll be."

 

Image via iStock.com/Christopher Futcher

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