Your 20s are a weird time in your life. You’re constantly juggling trying to find a career that is fulfilling and pays the bills with “Let’s go to Cambodia for a month and just live. Everybody wants to go backpacking for a couple months. Or maybe you’re working 20 hours a week for free developing an app or designing a clothing line. If you’re a 20-something living anywhere in the world someone’s probably told you, “Now’s the time to take risks” or “Now’s the time to travel because you won’t have this kind of freedom at any point in your life.”
Well, here it is again. It’s time to take some risks because in your 30s, that may not be an option. Here’s why:
You might have a family
In 2014, the average age people had their first child was around 27. According to Huffington Post, 21% of women are having their first kid in their 30s and that number is climbing. So chances are, you’ll have a kid in your 30s if you’re not careful, and hopefully you’re happy about it. But that just means more responsibility for you and your significant other. You may or may not have heard this, but I’ll let you in on a little secret: kids are a lot of work.
This is not to mention your parents. By the time you’re 30, your parents are at least around their 50s or higher. This means their knees are giving out soon. Or their kidneys. Something’s going to stop working and, considering you have a relationship with your parents, you have to be there to pick up the pieces. Someone has to take them to their doctors’ appointments and to and from bridge club.
Bills are a serious thing.
Sure, in your 20s you probably have a rent payment, maybe a phone bill, most likely internet, if you went to college you also have those pesky loan payments, but that’s it. The crazy thing about bills is they really start to pile on after your 30s. And, if your parents were helping you with any of those, that all goes out the window in your 30s.
Considering you’re a part of that demographic mentioned above, you also just had your first kid. That’s a lot of money right there. There’s also life insurance. According to Zillow, the average age of first home buyers is 33-years-old. If you fall into that statistic, now you’ve got a house payment.
I think you get the point. After you turn 30 life comes at you fast. There won’t be time to cliff dive in Beliz, or zipline through Costa Rica. Get that done before all these bills sneak up on you.
You need to start thinking long term
As a 20-something retirement is probably the furthest thing from your mind. I’ve specifically opted out of a wonderful retirement plan just so I could have more money in the present. It was not a great idea, but I did it. Anyway, hopefully in your 30s you won’t be like me and you’ll be thinking, “I don’t want to work in junk bonds my whole life. I want to retire someday.” Well, then you need to start preparing for that. That means saving and investing.
If you’ve got kids and you’d like them to avoid being thousands of dollars in debt at 23, which I’m sure you would, you need to start a college fund yesterday.
All of this saving and planning makes taking risks much harder to do. So do it now.
You should be settled in a career
Hopefully (please, please, please) by your 30s you’ve settled into the career of your dreams. You love going to work every day. You’re coworkers are super cool and you make more money than you know what to do with. Anyway, that’s the dream. The point it, when you’re in your 30s it’s less about earning potential and more about earning stability. You’re no longer willing to work for free for 40 hours a week on a startup app that may or may not yield insane returns in the long run. Now it’s more about what job you can take to pay all these damn bills every month.
That being said, your 20s are when you take earning potential risks. So take them now.