5 Money Management Tips for Women in Their 20s and 30s

Contrary to some beliefs, avoiding avocado toast and fancy coffee isn’t a cure-all when it comes to managing your money. That said, your 20s and 30s are an incredibly important time when it comes to setting yourself up for success (and who doesn’t want that?).

You currently have the power to change your future, which is pretty fantastic. Here are five ways to help you get started.

1. Set Realistic Financial Goals

Budgeting is not just about watching your monthly expenses; it’s also about consciously setting financial goals. Think about what’s important to you, and see goal-setting as a path to getting there.

“It’s important to set a time frame for your short- and long-term financial goals,” says Kim Hone, Senior Vice President and Wealth Advisor for Regions Private Wealth Management. “That will dictate the savings level you need and the risk level you can take on.”

For instance, if your long-term goal is to save X dollars for your wedding in two years, then play around with your discretionary income to decide what can stay and what needs to go. While a budget may seem limiting at first, it can be incredibly empowering to watch your savings grow over time.

Beyond saving for goals and retirement, it’s also important to earmark money each month for an emergency fund. “The rule of thumb is to set aside six months of your income,” Hone says. Why six months? The logic is that if you get fired or have a medical crisis, those funds can see you through.

2. Build Your Credit History

Your credit history is your track record of how long and how responsibly you’ve handled your debts — and a strong predictor of how well you’ll do so in the future. All that information is detailed in your credit report and crunched into a three-digit number called a credit score.

Anyone from mortgage lenders to landlords to prospective employers might pull your credit report or score. The most important factor they consider is if you’ve made on-time payments for your debts: student loan, mortgage, car loan, credit cards, etc.

Another influential factor is how much of your available credit you use on your credit cards; the less, the better. For instance, if you have a $10,000 credit card limit and are always using 95 percent of it, that doesn’t look great. “It’s important to understand what your credit report says,” Hone states. You can request one free credit report each year from each of the three major credit bureaus at the government-sponsored website annualcreditreport.com.

3. Invest in Your Career

You likely won’t be shocked to learn that, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, women earned 80.5 cents to each dollar men earned in 2016. That means it’s especially critical during this phase of your career to take advantage of every chance to network and to enlist mentors who can help you advance your career and your salary level. “It’s important for people to know about your achievements and skills,” Hone says. “That way, when an opportunity comes up, they’ll think of you.”

4. Start Saving for Retirement ASAP

If you’re already actively saving for retirement, pat yourself on the back. If not, it’s likely time to re-evaluate. Why? Two words: compound interest. The longer your money is invested in a retirement account, the greater your balance may potentially grow. So it’s vital to contribute as early, and as generously, as possible to a 401(k) or individual retirement account (IRA). That’s especially true for American women, who can expect to live five years longer than men, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Don’t leave your golden years in jeopardy — your future self will thank you.

5. And If You Have Kids . . .

In addition to diapers and day care, you may also want to start setting aside money for your child’s schooling. While that’s most often for college expenses, consider the potential cost for private K-12 schooling as well. Check out prepaid tuition programs and 529 plans, which can offer tax benefits.

You’ll also want to think about purchasing life insurance. Why? Mainly because life insurance can provide an income stream and safety net for your growing family should something happen to you or your spouse. Evaluate if a term policy or permanent policy could benefit your family most.

Managing your money while you’re building your career can seem overwhelming. But it only takes a few money-savvy moves now to help create a brighter future. As you make your way through your 20s and 30s, take a look at what’s to come during your 40s and 50s.


This information is general in nature and is not intended to be legal, tax, or financial advice. Although Regions believes this information to be accurate, it cannot ensure that it will remain up to date. Statements or opinions of individuals referenced herein are their own—not Regions'. Consult an appropriate professional concerning your specific situation and irs.gov for current tax rules. Regions, the Regions logo, and the LifeGreen bike are registered trademarks of Regions Bank. The LifeGreen color is a trademark of Regions Bank.