How to be financially fearless in your 30s and 40s
4 min | 6 December 2021
Moving up the property ladder, having children, changing career… life in your 30s and 40s can be a busy (and often expensive) time. If you had the chance, what money advice would you give to your younger self? Would you have done things differently? We spoke to a range of people to find out.
“I regret not being in a position to buy a property earlier before the housing market became ludicrous. Still, I’m on the housing ladder now and the certainty of being a homeowner has really helped with starting a family. I would like to design and build my own home one day when my children are older, provided I don't have to go to the extremes of living in a caravan with a baby over winter, like you see on Grand Designs.
“You hear a lot about couples arguing about money. However, my wife and I have a similar mindset on finances, which has meant money is rarely a cause of marital strife. My wife's idea of getting a joint account for shared costs helps keep things clear and simple.”
“My partner and I thought about moving up the property ladder – buying a bigger house is appealing. But a house is not just a commodity, it's your home. We’re happy here, and we have enough space, so I’m pleased we’ve stayed and focused on clearing the mortgage to give us more options in the future.
“I went freelance just after hitting 40. As long as you're not running away from anything but heading towards a new opportunity, then it could be a positive change. I haven't looked back and doubt I would choose to be a full-time staffer again.”
“I’ve changed my career four times. It may sound like a lot, but I see life as a series of opportunities, so you shouldn’t be afraid to explore and revisit what you want in life, and think about what brings you joy. We spend so long at work, so it’s important to reflect on this. I believe you need flexibility and agility to manage your career in your 30s and 40s; that would be my advice.”
“After eight years of freelancing, I went back to work full-time at 40. It was not a career change, but it was a very big change to work/family life. I would say though, being a parent doesn’t mean you can't change careers or feel as though something is 'too late'. It isn't and you may find yourself going back stronger.
“However, I’d also tell my younger self that being a working parent is tough. When your kids start school, there's a whole new routine and little flexibility (they can't just be late or take a day off like at nursery). There is also an emotional side for both parents and children to cope with. Sometimes I feel like super-mum, and other days are hard. I think it’s important you work for a company that allows you to have a good work/life balance – you don’t have to apologise for being a mum.”
“I was always very good at saving when I was younger. Since having children and being married to someone who is more of a spender, I have become less good at saving. With the priorities of managing a busy family life, trying to save can become harder and the temptation to just enjoy the here and now can be greater. Increased fatigue and stress can also make it harder to resist the temptation to treat yourself. It is something you need to proactively organise, even if it’s just taking money out of your current account for savings as soon as you’ve been paid.
“We’ve taught our children to save from a young age, and we also set aside money they can give, be it to a charity or fundraising project. We also teach them about online safety in terms of preventing fraud, although my children – who are almost teenagers – are also teaching me about what they have learnt at school!”
“l tried to teach my children about the value of money by taking them to car boot sales to decide if they want to buy a second-hand toy (and help save the planet) or they could save their money and buy something new. I’m glad I did it and would recommend this tactic to other parents.”
“My advice to my younger self is don't buy a fixer-upper. Just seemed like a good idea at the time!”
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and does not constitute financial advice