investment strategy

How to Start Investing in Your 30s

March 14, 2022

We've heard it all before: “it's never too early to start investing.” Well, you know what? It's also never too late.

There are loads of dynamic investment vehicles out there that can help you start building wealth, and the best option for you will depend on your financial goals and why you're investing. 

For example, you may want to start investing in your 30s so that you’ve got a nest egg for retirement. On the flip side, you may want to start an investment account for the children in your life to give them the gift of financial freedom when they finally come of age.

Either way, there are a few things you should know about investing in your 30s.

This guide will explain why you need to start investing, how to start investing in your 30s, and the investment advice you’ll need to start building wealth for the future.

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Why Should You Start Investing in Your 30s?

If you haven’t already invested by age 30, don’t panic: this is the perfect time to start. But your 30s are likely to be expensive — and you want to set you and your family up for the future.

Whether you’re planning on investing for a child’s future or your future, there are several key reasons it’s worth investing in your 30s. Let’s walk through them.

Investing if you don’t want kids

Your 30s are the time to begin building lasting wealth to meet life’s growing demands — including kickstarting your retirement savings. That’s why it’s important to invest, and you’ve got to start by defining your financial goals.

Consider where you want to be in five, 20, or even 30 years. Think about what assets you want to have and what milestones you want to hit. 

From there, it’s time to develop a plan to achieve those goals. That’s where investment comes in.

You’ll need to develop a firm understanding of your spending habits, expenses, and debts. This will enable you to understand what you can realistically afford to invest in your future to achieve your financial targets and milestones.

A fantastic way to get to where you’d like to be financially is to set up one or more tax-advantaged investment accounts. Options range from a Roth IRA and 401k to a brokerage account. 

More importantly, you must consider strategy. If you’re new to investing, it’s easy to leverage a lot of simple investment strategies like exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and index funds that require little management activity on your part and are relatively low risk.

But we’ll get to how you should start investing in your 30s in just a minute. First, let’s talk about why you’d want to start investing in your 30s if you’re planning on starting a family.

Investing if you want or already have kids

If you want kids or are planning on having kids, your 30s is the time to start thinking about the financial future of those children.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median age for getting married is 29 for men and 28 for women. That’s one family milestone. Next, you’ve got the housing ladder. The National Association of Realtors says the average age for buying a first home is 33.

Graph showing average age of homebuyers
(Image source)


After getting that home, you’re far more likely to consider becoming a parent for the first time — so you’re probably finding yourself with a lot of new responsibilities and costs to consider in a relatively short time.

Investing in your 30s with a family in mind is about making sure you meet those responsibilities and start building generational wealth to pass on to your kids.

First, you’ll need to sit down and develop a list of your family’s financial goals. Think about what you want for your family’s future. 

For example: do you want your kids to go to private school? Do you want them to go to college? Are you going to need to buy a bigger house in five years? What age do you and your spouse want to retire at?

Achieving these goals will require investment now to make sure you’ve got the finances to make things happen in the future. Fortunately, there are a lot of tax-advantaged investment vehicles you can employ that focus on various goals.

For example, if you’re trying to give the kids in your life the gift of financial freedom in the future, you might consider setting up a UGMA account through EarlyBird. This will enable you to contribute funds during their ‌childhood and invest in a pre-tailored portfolio based on your risk appetite. The result: by the time the kids you’re saving for come of age, you’ll have a nice nest egg waiting for them.

Screenshot of mobile view of EarlyBird app


Just remember: if your kids are young and you’re still in your 30s, you don’t have to walk on eggshells and avoid risk entirely. At this age, you’ve still got a relatively long investment horizon, which means loads of time to realize your investments and create genuine wealth for the children you love.

How to Invest in Your 30s

OK: so, we’ve covered why you should invest in your 30s. Whether you choose to have a family or are simply taking care of your own financial goals, this is a critical and exciting time in your life to start investing assets to turn those goals into a reality.

You’ve got a few options to choose from regarding investment vehicles. The choices you make will largely depend on who you’re saving for and why you’re saving — but each account type comes with its own unique set of benefits.

Let’s explore a few of the most popular investment options for 30-somethings.

Investing for kids

We already briefly mentioned investment options if you’d like to build future wealth for the kids in your life a bit earlier, but let’s break it down in more detail.

If you’re looking to invest for a child you love rather than for your own future — you should definitely consider setting up a UGMA custodial account.

A custodial account is a tax-beneficial investment vehicle that lets you set up an investment account for a child beneficiary. 

As the adult, you have to serve as the custodian of the child’s account. This means you’re responsible for managing the assets in a custodial account and making investment decisions. 

Even though you’re in charge of the account, the distinction to remember is that nothing in the account belongs to you. It's all the legal property of the child beneficiary.

This can represent major tax savings for families. The IRS taxes any unearned income a custodial account generates at the child’s lower tax rate — at least up to a certain threshold. That means if your investments produce compound interest or dividend payments, you won’t have to pay much (if any) tax on those gains.

This is what’s known as the “kiddie tax.”

When the account’s beneficiary hits the “age of majority,” the custodianship ends. In most states, this happens at either age 18 or 21, and it means the child will take full control over the assets you've invested for them.

If this sounds like an investment plan you'd like to consider, check out EarlyBird. Using the EarlyBird app, you can easily invest for kids using an intuitive fixed portfolio model — choosing from multiple exchange-traded fund (ETF) portfolios based on your time horizon and risk appetite. 

You can even invest in crypto for kids.

A 529 savings plan is another way to start investing in the kids in your life during your 30s. 

It’s an investment account that enables parents, guardians, or other adults to invest money in a child’s future education. More specifically: this is a useful way to pay for college if that’s something you want for the kids in your life.

Each U.S. state has its own unique 529 rules, but they all work similarly.

The contributions you make to a 529 plan aren’t tax-deductible. But the earnings your plan generates grow tax-free. That means when it’s time to pay for school, you won’t get taxed on any of the money you withdraw — but only as long as that withdrawal is being used for a “qualified” education expense.

Illustration showing woman and baby sitting below giant shield

A college savings plan like a 529 will normally cover tuition fees and on-campus accommodation. But other things like travel, food, tech, and off-campus rent aren’t usually going to apply. That’s why a lot of parents decide to set up a UGMA custodial account alongside a 529.


Roth IRA

Another great way to start investing in your 30s is to set up a Roth IRA — and it’s a practical option whether you want to have children or not.

A Roth individual retirement account (IRA) is a type of investment account that lets you store assets for retirement. Everything you place in that account then grows tax-free. This means when you’re ready to withdraw money from your Roth IRA, you won’t have to pay any tax on those withdrawals, regardless of how much your investments have increased in value.

Although Roth IRA withdrawals are tax-free, it’s important to remember that you can’t take money out of your Roth IRA until you reach retirement age. If you take money out of an IRA before then, you’ll have to pay a 10% penalty plus any applicable taxes.

But if you’re able to leave those funds alone until you retire, this is an incredibly tax-advantaged way to invest.

Although a Roth IRA is designed to help you save for your own retirement, you can also use one to save for a child’s future retirement — which would be a custodial Roth IRA.

Chart showing different between Roth IRA and custodial Roth IRA
(Image source)


Regarding management, a custodial Roth IRA works a lot like a UGMA custodial account. An adult manages the assets in a custodial Roth IRA on the child’s behalf until they reach the age of majority.

But unlike a UGMA, you can’t contribute your own money into a custodial Roth IRA. You’re only allowed to deposit income the child has earned themselves.

That’s why this investment option makes sense for older kids or teenagers. If you’re trying to invest for a younger child or baby, you’ll be better off setting up a UGMA account.

It’s also important to remember that Roth IRA contributions are limited to $6,000 per year. That’s not a huge amount, so you won’t be able to generate quite as big of a nest egg investing this way.

Investment Advice for Starting in Your 30s

It doesn’t matter whether you’re investing for kids or investing for your own future. Either way, there’s some basic advice you should bear in mind as you start your investment journey.

No two investors are alike, so what works for you might not work for others. But generally speaking, you should consider these points.

1. Make your money work as hard as it can

Trying to invest while covering all of your normal overheads can be tricky — especially in your 30s when your financial responsibilities are growing.

The solution is to figure out how much you can realistically afford to invest while still making sure you’ve got enough liquid cash to pay household bills and make ends meet.

Illustration showing hand placing coin in row of various assets

Generally speaking, most 30-somethings find that anywhere between 25% and 50% of their monthly income will be enough to cover expenses, but different households have different needs. Just crunch the numbers, and invest what you can afford without putting yourself or your family at risk.

Your average financial advisor would also recommend you maintain an emergency fund that could cover at least three months’ worth of expenses — just in case.


2. Consider your existing debts

If you have liabilities like student loans or credit card debts, the investment strategies you deploy in your 30s will dictate how quickly you pay those debts off.

There's no precise formula for getting out of debt quickly, and your financial situation will dictate your exact priorities — but you should bear in mind any liabilities you’ve got when budgeting in how much you can afford to invest regularly.

3. Use tax-advantaged accounts

Certain investment vehicles benefit from different tax advantages, so you need to be aware of how you can maximize those advantages.

For example, by investing in a UGMA custodial account, you’ll benefit from a reduced tax burden via the kiddie tax. You can also gift up to $16,000 per person per year tax-free via the gift tax.

Likewise, investing in a Roth IRA helps you to avoid paying capital gains taxes after you retire — no matter how much income or appreciation your assets have generated over time.

4. Consider ETFs and index funds

When you’re getting started investing, it can be pretty daunting trying to choose the right individual stocks or other securities to buy. That’s where ETFs and index funds come to the rescue.

An ETF is like a “basket” of stocks and bonds that are picked by experts and follow an underlying stock index. This takes a lot of the stress out of investment by offering you a handpicked range of securities that are generally grouped together based on your investment style — so if you’re looking for a way to get exposure to the stock market without spending ages stressing about what to buy, ETFs and other index funds are an incredibly helpful option.

Conclusion

It’s not too late to start investing when you’re 30 (or even after that). Your 30s are an incredibly exciting time in which most of us are starting to develop a true sense of what we want to get out of life — whether it’s for yourself or the children in your life.

To get what you want, you’re probably going to need to set financial goals and make investments now to guarantee you can achieve those goals in the future.

Fortunately, there are loads of different ways to invest in your 30s. But if you’re after flexibility and tax benefits, one of the best investment options out there is to set up a UGMA custodial account.

Are you ready to start investing? Download EarlyBird today.

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