Money in Your 30s: Manage It, Don't Be Managed by It

by Wade Barnes 4. October 2012

30Like it or not, the days when maybe it was okay to be slightly irresponsible with your money are over. You may have worked a job or two, but now you’re moving into the career years ahead. As you nail down a stable job with a stable income, it’s time to start managing your money so that money doesn’t manage you for the rest of your life. With these simple tips, we’ll point you in the right direction.


It's time to deleverage. The best way to increase your cash flow is to decrease money going to unnecessary interest charges. Focus on paying off all debt that isn’t tied to a mortgage. Concentrate on the loans with the highest interest rates first, likely those carried by credit cards, then focus on car loans, student loans, and any other non-mortgage related debt. Caution: moving debt between credit cards and other loan types is not deleveraging.

Kick the habit of assuming debt to make purchases. Save money for big purchases so you don’t have to finance these items using credit. That being said, if you get 0% financing for a period of time, don’t hesitate to use this money for free, but be sure the debt is paid in full before the period expires to avoid huge interest charges.


Marriage is the most important event in a person’s life in many ways. When you marry your life to someone, you also marry your finances. This is a great opportunity to meet with a Financial Consultant to consider everything in your financial portfolio from investments to insurance and retirement planning.

If you’re planning to have children, this is also a great time to meet with a Financial Consultant. You’ll want to consider setting up a college savings plan to help cover the cost of education. While nobody likes to think about life insurance, this is a great time to make sure your family is covered in the event that the unthinkable should occur.


Start building an emergency savings account. It is suggested that you should have at least three months of salary in savings. With this emergency savings account, it will be easier to weather the storm if hard times or unexpected expenses occur.

While it might be hard to consider retirement when you’re in your 30s, there’s no better time than now to start socking away money for life after work. The power of compounding interest really adds up when time is on your side. Consider increasing the percentage of income going towards retirement savings by 1% every year when in your 30s. Use a retirement calculator to get an idea of what it takes to save for your retirement years so you can live comfortably and enjoy the fruit of your laboring years.

In short, when you’re in your 30s, it’s time to make your money work for you so you are starting your adult life with a solid financial footing. By paying off debt, creating a savings plan and addressing insurance and investment options, you’ll be well on the way to enjoying your adult life with responsible financial habits.

If you found this article useful, be sure to check out these related articles:

Debt to Income Ratio: What it is and how it helps (or hurts) your chances of getting a loan

How I Graduated Debt-Free From College

The Imaginary Mortgage - Fake It Til You Make It

How to Stay Cool when Temperatures are Hot

by Wade Barnes 16. July 2012

Average Baltimore TemperaturesSummer is officially upon us, and with it comes the heat and humidity we know all too well here in Baltimore.  Staying cool when the temperatures are hot can be a costly proposition, but there are a few tips we’d like to share so you don’t have to break the bank.


The basics... 

º Blow hot air: By having a fan simply move the air around the house, you’ll actually feel cooler.  Running ceiling fans counter-clockwise, especially in elevated levels in the house, creates an upward draft, bringing the cool air up to help better circulate the efforts of your air conditioner.    

º 78° Rule: We’ve all heard it before - 78° is the magic number.  By keeping your thermostat set at 78°, your home will be comfortable and you won’t overwork your air conditioning unit.    

º Close blinds: By keeping the sunlight out, the rooms won’t heat as quickly and the temperature will remain more stable. 

º Don’t cool unused space: While this may seem intuitive, if you have unused space, there’s no need to keep it at 78°.  Close the air ducts in unused rooms and gain efficiency and comfort in rooms you do use. 

º  Plant trees: Planting trees to help block the summer sun will not only keep the sunlight from coming in through the windows, it will also keep the exterior of your house cool, which means heat won’t penetrate through the walls.  As an added bonus, when autumn comes around, the leaves will fall which will allow the sun to once again brighten your day and heat the house during the winter.


The mechanics...

º Air filter: Perhaps the simplest and most inexpensive tip is to replace your air filter every three months.  Allowing air to flow freely will reduce the energy required to run your air conditioning system.  On top of that, the air you’ll breath will be clean, crisp, and refreshing.

º HVAC service: You should have your air conditioning system maintenance performed annually.  By sealing leaks, cleaning ducts, and checking refrigerant levels you can see significant improvements in efficiency and reduction in cost.

º Programmable thermostat: While the 78° rule still applies, if you’re not home during the day or if you can stand it a bit warmer at night, using a programmable thermostat can really impact the bottom line. 

º Consistency: While programmable thermostats are good because they create only slight variations in the temperature difference, turning the air conditioning on and off repetitively is not.  When your system is on, you’re not only cooling the air, you’re cooling the walls, ceilings, floors and everything in-between.  It takes a long time to cool all things solid but once they’re cool, they help keep the air cool too. 


The replacement…

If you’ve reached the point of diminishing returns with regards to your air conditioning unit, it might make sense to upgrade.  By installing an Energy Star system, you may qualify for Energy Star tax credits, and you’ll most certainly decrease the cost to cool your home during the summer.  If your system breaks unexpectedly or you need help financing this upgrade, consider using the equity in your home by obtaining a home equity loan or line of credit. 

For more energy saving tips, see Spring Forward with These 5 Energy Saving Tips.

If you’ve decided to beat the heat by getting out of town, be sure read Traveling Tips: keep the costs low and the fun level high.

Do Your Part to Help Save a Tree

by Wade Barnes 27. April 2012

If you happened to see a greater-than-usual number of people out planting trees this morning as you were driving to work, and you’re wondering why, we’re here to solve your mystery…today is National Arbor Day.

Whether you plan to plant a tree in honor of Arbor Day or not, we thought it might be useful to remind you of some easy ways you can help save trees and reduce the amount of paper clutter in all of our lives.

Here a few simple things you can do to save a tree:

Use Online Banking

Online banking is a great paperless solution to managing your bank accounts – all you need is a computer with internet access (such the one you’re using right now to read this article).

Pay Bills Using Electronic Bill Payments

Once enrolled in online banking, you can initiate payments using the bill payment service.  Using an electronic bill payment service is simple, and it reduces your need to order checks, not to mention the envelopes and stamps you save.

Transfer Money between Banks Using External Account Transfers

Using external account transfers, also known as account to account transfers, you can move money electronically between accounts at various financial institutions.

Sign Up for eStatements

eStatements are delivered electronically to your online banking mailbox.  Not only do eStatements save trees, they also save you the time and trouble of filing your paper statements.  With eStatements, 18 months of statements are automatically saved electronically for retention purposes, so you don’t have to worry about keeping track of all your old statements.Mobile Banking Phones

Use Mobile Banking

With Mobile Banking you can see your account balances and transfer money between accounts on the go.  There’s no need to haul around a laptop, simply use your internet enabled phone to quickly access your bank.


In honor of the great White Oak (The official Maryland State Tree…but you knew that, right?), be sure to take advantage of ways to manage your finances without using unnecessary paper.

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