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9 Steps You Can Take in Your 20s to Become Rich in Your 30s (American ‘15)

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Most youths don’t lay the foundation needed for them to be rich in their 30s. Here are nine steps to help you learn how to how to build wealth in your 20s.


The average 25-34-year-old is spending over $4,000 every month. But they only make $45,550 (on average) every year.

Based on these findings, this leaves roughly $200 every month leftover to go towards building wealth.

The good news is that if you’re approaching or have just turned 30, you’re not as behind of your peers as you might think. If you didn’t care about how to build wealth in your 20s, how can you make up for it in your 30s?

Here’s everything you need to know about growing wealth in your 30s

Define What “Wealth” Means to You

Before you start calculating how much money you need, you need to have a clear understanding of your values. The idea of “wealth” looks different for different people.

For some people it is to be debt-free, living a modest but comfortable life doing what they take satisfaction in.

For others, it means significant assets and income.

100 people who have thought about it will have 100 different detailed definitions of what “wealthy” means for them.

Wealthy is a relative definition, you should define what it means to you; either a certain net worth, or certain cash flow, or a combination of both.

Establish a Solid Career Trajectory

Now is the time to figure out what exactly it is you want to be when you grow-up. In your 20s you likely worked in a few different jobs and were able to learn more about what type of career is a good fit.

Some people develop self-awareness right out of the gate and are able to fall into a focused career they love as early as 18 years-old. Not everyone is built that way. For some people, life experience is really the only way they can discover who they are, what they’re good at and what they’re not good at.

By 30 you should have a decent understanding of who you are, what you want and what you enjoy. One of the keys to building wealth is obvious: make more money. The way you make more money is to have a focused career trajectory.

The first step for doing this is to take stock of the experience you have and the skills you’ve acquired so far. These can include soft skills like “leadership” and also technical skills in a given discipline.

The only way you’re going to stick to a career for the next 30 years and live a life that you’re happy with is if you enjoy what you’re doing. So the next step is to list what you enjoy.

Relieve yourself of the passions you would like to have, and get real with how you’re actually spending your time, what your habits are and what you’re really motivated by.

Once you have two lists of what you’re good at and what you love, connect them with career possibilities. Do research to figure out what options are out there, what type of education is needed, and how long it would take you to become an “expert.”

Once you commit to a career, establish measurable goals and budget time to doing what you need to reach those goals.

Eliminate Your Debt

Consumer debt will hold you back. If you haven’t been serious about paying off debt until now, it’s time to get serious.

The first step to eliminating debt is to stop gaining more debt. The only financing in your life should be towards assets. Set goals for getting out of debt and commit to them.

There are different “best practices” for paying off debt.

One of the main strategies is to pay off debt with the highest interest first then to also pay more than the monthly minimum.

There’s also the snowball investing method, where you make minimum payments on all of your debts except the smallest one. The goal is to pay your smallest debts first while also working on paying your bigger debts.

It’s Time for Your Budget to Grow-Up

We live in a world where many people live beyond their means and aren’t conscious spenders. In your 20s you might have gotten away with impulse purchases and not sticking to a budget, but the only way you can build with is to take control of your finances.

$250 for studio workout classes every month, spending $5 every day at Starbucks and having half of your monthly income going to a luxury apartment shouldn’t be included in a “grown-up” budget.

If you’re entering 30 without a lot of savings, the truth is you’re going to have to cut a lot of expenses. Don’t look at this as lowering your quality of life, look at it as not wasting unnecessary money and investing in your future.

For example, just because it’s not smart to spend $5 every day on coffee, you don’t have to opt for the cheapest coffee at the store. Artisan coffee from a bag or tin or joining a coffee delivery club is usually around $25 – $40 every month. This might sound crazy to some people, but considering what you were spending, it’s significantly less.

Rice and beans aren’t very sexy, but they can be dressed with all types of seasonings and sauces to make them fit any craving. The same goes for oatmeal.

Running outside or investing in free weights and a pull-up bar for your house is just as effective as joining a trendy “lifestyle” gym or trendy new workout studio. YouTube has millions of decent videos for everyone from yogis to bodybuilders of all skill levels.

Save Your Money

The money you make that isn’t going to debt and your basic needs (food, shelter, health) should be going to your savings. Experts have always touted 20% as the magic amount to save. Most also recommend starting to save that much by 20 years-old.

If you’re 30, you’ve got a decade of catching-up to do. In reality, you should be saving significantly more.

To really maximize your savings, you’ll want to funnel your money into accounts that accrue interest. At a minimum, open an IRA and a 401(k). There are options for all different income levels and types of employment. There are also mutual funds and CD accounts.

To build wealth you have to think wealthy. Why would you just store money somewhere that’s not doing anything for you?

Establish Multiple Streams of Income

Everyone seems to have a side hustle these days.

To build wealth you’ve got to generate multiple streams of income. The people making millions aren’t relying only on their desk job to increase their net worth.

The goal is to establish funnels of passive income like a property you rent out or a website someone else manages that earns pay-per-click revenue. It takes time and know-how to understand what makes a good investment versus a bad one. You should focus on saving and paying off debt before you start investing.

It’s smart to set the plan in motion early on. For example, if you’re tech-savvy and your goal is to build apps that generate a passive income in the future. It doesn’t hurt to pick-up side gigs working as a developer where you can earn extra money to save and pay off debt now, but also gain skills and experience that contribute to your long-term goals.

Your extra streams of income don’t have to be related to your career, it’s merely a suggestion to make your life a little easier. It’s also smart to have a secondary skill that you pursue and develop in case something goes badly in your industry or profession.

Even though you should stay out of stocks and more complex investing until you pay off debt and establish decent savings, it doesn’t hurt to start dabbling in low-cost stocks to get your feet wet. Apps like Robinhood make it easy to purchase stocks and monitor the stock market. You can purchase stocks for $5 or $30 to simply learn how it works before you’re ready to make it a serious form of investment.

Be a Financial Expert

Educate yourself about personal finance as much as possible. The great news is that there are a ton of excellent free resources out there.

For example, you can find free classes with a whole range of companies. There’s also the good old-fashioned “read a book” method. There are enough classics in existence to keep you busy reading for years.

You also might want to consider reading more financial and market news and listening to finance and business-focused podcasts.

Master Your Trade

Along with investing in your financial education, you should be doing everything in your power to improve your skills and marketability in your career.

You should be increasing your income every year, and one of the best ways to do this is to consistently improve your skill level and income requirements.

Take courses, earn certificates that are relevant and desirable in your field, attend conferences and events, network, read books and get involved in your industry’s community.

Work On Yourself

Soft skills can be just as valuable as your technical skills. Money and opportunities don’t just appear, you need other people to get ahead. You need to be likable.

Soft skills are interpersonal skills. You’ll hear the acronym EQ thrown around, which means emotional intelligence quotient.

Qualities like being a good communicator, being able to work with a team or active listening are all desirable soft skills. The soft skills that are the most important for you to have will vary on the type of career you have.

In addition to how you interact with others, you need to be self-aware of how others perceive you. This doesn’t mean worrying about what people think, it means being aware of the social norms in your career and acting accordingly.

If you work in corporate sales, you need to be confident and appear professional and put together. If you work in fashion, you need to appear stylish. It might sound shallow, but the reality is that we need to convince people that we are worthy of their time and money.

They say to “dress for the job you want,” which is true, but you also need to be authentic. If you’re in an entry-level job, wearing designer suits every day won’t necessarily have the level of influence you might be hoping it does.

Have a solid brand, be honest, transparent and consistent. Find that special something that makes you valuable and showcase it. Manage your social media profiles, keep an updated portfolio and be ready for whatever opportunities present themselves.

Get The Right Mindset and Live a High-Quality Life

One of the most underrated musts for getting rich in your 20s or your 30s or really at any time is thinking like a wealthy person. Limiting beliefs could be the biggest hurdle you face between your financial standing as it is and where you want it to be.

Don’t fall into traps of self-pity because you “have to be frugal.” You can still have a high quality of life on a budget. You can still travel, exercise, eat healthy foods and enjoy fine dining.

For example, instead of eating out for lunch every day and going out every weekend, you could instead splurge on a nicer “worth it” foodie experience once every quarter. Instead of paying for an expensive gym, you can enjoy the great outdoors.

You can opt for volunteer travel and experiences with organizations like Charles Carey instead of waiting to afford luxury travel. Instead of eating trendy and expensive packaged foods, you can save by buying (and freezing) fresh foods from your community’s farmer’s market.

Who you surround yourself with will play a major role in how easy or difficult it is to adopt the right mindset.

You might find that some family and friends aren’t supportive, and frequently peer pressure you to make careless or irresponsible decisions. To move forward you’ve got to lose the fear of being judged by others and losing friends.

It’s OK to cut out people. It is beneficial to build a supportive network of like-minded people who have similar goals or are already where you want to be.

If You Didn’t Care About How to Build Wealth in Your 20s — It’s Not Too Late

If you didn’t care about how to build wealth in your 20s you’re definitely not impossible to still become wealthy in your life. It won’t be easy, in fact, it will be hard work at times, but it’s doable.

Need more tips on how to live your best life? Click over to our resources section for more guides!

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