5 Expenses to Ditch After Age 30

By Chris Birk on 9 September 2010 (Updated 5 September 2011) 38 comments
Photo: Weeta

Climb out from beneath the covers and face the harsh light of day: You're 30.

Surprisingly, it isn't the end of the world. In fact, consider it an opportunity to shed some of the bad habits and poor financial decisions of the past. That's not to say you should run from the last decade of your life.

Embrace the all-nighters, corporate climbing, and occasional beer-fueled mayhem that led you to this point. But recognize that while age is just a number, the Big 3-0 can signal a turning point regarding some of the fiscal baggage that may be weighing you down. If you spent the last decade averse to living by a budget, perhaps it's time to take a crack at, you know, actually tracking your income and debts. (See also: 6 Quick Tips for Organizing Your Finances)

The reality is there's often a host of new expenses that either emerge or are already in full swing by age 30, from mortgages and wedding rings to child care and retirement planning. Consider it the consumption-based circle of life.

That means some expenses should be headed toward extinction as our 20s hit the rear view. Here's a look at five types of expenses to ditch after age 30.

High-Interest Credit Cards

If you're still holding on to the first card you ever received, you're probably paying way too much in interest charges. Now that you've had a chance to develop a credit history (and if you've been responsible about your payments and charges), you'll likely qualify for a lower rate. Making purchases on a card with a 29% APR is not a path to financial independence. It's a recipe for disaster.

Late Fees

We've all paid them. The first of the month comes around…and then it's gone. But with internet banking and online payment systems, there are no excuses anymore. Make this the decade of paying your bills on time, every time. This is especially true with credit cards. Depending on your FICO score, a 30-day late payment can cut your score by as many as 110 points.

Partying

As you get older, your wallet isn't the only thing paying for that great night the following morning. Going out with friends is great every once in a while, but if you cut out the weekly (or twice weekly — you know who you are) partying, you could save a considerable sum of money over the course of the year. Especially because you're probably splurging for something a bit pricier than Stag these days. You could even use a portion of your savings to take one larger vacation (sobriety optional).

Rent

It's an increasingly controversial topic given the economic upheaval of the last 18 months. Homeownership probably shouldn't be viewed as a no-brainer path to wealth creation — just ask the millions of Americans now underwater in their homes. At the same time, purchasing that dream home can pay off in the long run, especially if you're planning to stay in the property for the long haul. Given current home values and record-low interest rates, now is certainly a great time to buy a home.

Cell Phone Ringtone and Wallpaper Downloads

Yes, they're fun. We understand. And everybody around you really enjoys your Eminem ringtone. But all those little charges add up — and, really, your phone will still function perfectly without that Beyonce wallpaper. Trust us. Besides, c'mon, you're 30 years old. Act your age.

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Guest's picture
Guest

"And everybody around you really enjoys your Eminem ringtone" - Yeah, like the dig!

Guest's picture
GR

Wise Bread, you lost me with this one. Terrible article. Silly, useless, insulting, and patently false.

Guest's picture

Great stuff--but why wait till you're 30 for any of them except partying???

I'd start now...if I were stil under 30 that is.

Guest's picture

Enjoy all the sleepless nights, the escalation of business, and the occasional beer fuel chaos that brought you to this point. But recognize that although age is just a number, the Big 3-0 may indicate a turning point in relation to a financial background might weigh down. If youve spent the last decade the aversion to the life of a budget, it may be time to take a crack at, you know, keeps track of your income and debts.

Guest's picture
Guest

Wow, I don't think I've ever commented on an article before, but I have to agree with commenter GR -- useless and insulting. Thanks, I was totally unaware that now that I'm 30 I should avoid paying late fees on bills.

Guest's picture
Bonnie

Ah . . . . not helpful at all. The title is great, but I was looking for legitimate tips.

Guest's picture
Guest

Yeah, GR has it. This article was titled interestingly, but the content was completely useless. I got the feeling that the impetus for it was that the author had an experience with a 30-year old with a loud ringtone. I was really hoping for actual advice or tips on expenses that can be ditched, or at least reduced, like car insurance.

Guest's picture
Guest

How can this be regarded as insulting? Was the publisher referring to you PERSONALLY? I doubt it. Besides, I know far too many people that should definitely be using this advice.

Guest's picture
Frugal Guest

Except for entertainment and rent, I don't think you should EVER pay for the stuff you listed above. It's nice to say you shouldn't rent after age 30, but you have to keep in mind that lots of people are just finishing up paying off their college debts at 30, and some STILL are. And if you are 30 right now (2010), you might be afraid to buy a home in this economy, even though prices & interest rates are low. What if you lose your job?

Guest's picture

Nice list Chris. I hope by the age of 30, I can start paying for my place and stop paying all these rents money. If you think about it, the amount of rent money adds up through the years is a lot. Thanks for the article.

Xin Lu's picture
Xin Lu

I have a credit card with a 19.99% apr, but I always pay it in full every month so the APR doesn't even matter. I just keep the cards with the best rewards. So I think that tip on high interest credit cards is silly.

Guest's picture
Guest

Credit Cards: I have higher interest now then I did on my first card. Low Interest cards are the danger. When the interest is high you learn to not buy. Honestly people at all ages need to learn to not live beyond their means.

Late Fees: 30? Hell you shouldn't have these as an adult. Honestly how hard is it to know when you bill is due?

Partying: I did the smart thing. I did all mine in High School(hung out with people in college). Honestly I have never really understood American culture and our need to get drunk all the time.

Rent: Rent until you are ready to buy a long term house. I bought young and flipped houses and even though I made money I paid a lot to realitors. Renting is better till you are ready.

Ringtones/Wallpaper: Only idiots pay for this. With today's phone any MP3 or picture works. But even in the old days it was easy to convert and upload what you wanted. If you have ever paid for a ring tone or wallpaper you are either an idiot or lazy. I'll for give lazy but the rest of you need to learn how to get things for free.

Guest's picture
Guest

Botox. Something that should clearly be started after the age of 30 in the case of the author.

Guest's picture
GuestBen David

Wife should have been item #1, the biggest hole in most pockets, even good wives buy things for no other reasons than they feel like it.

Guest's picture
Guest

i agree that this article is useless. insulting to insinuate that all 20-somethings waste their money on late fees and credit card debt. And rent? Not really a waste since I'm avoiding interest, HOA dues, and general maintenance costs/concerns. Thanks, but with all the money I save on these "expenses" already, i will continue to enjoy a nice night out with my friends/family long past the age of 30.

Guest's picture
Harm

All the offended remarks are amusing.....and would be easier to take seriously
if SO MANY PEOPLE (of all ages, I know) didn't in fact waste money in just those
ways :)

Guest's picture
Mrs. $

Cool! My single friends buy 10 dollar martinis. It's hard to go out with them. I party a lot less to dave money for sure. Drink wine at home.:0)

Guest's picture

Good tips but wrong age range. As a college student, I tell my peers the exact same tips during personal finance seminars. The opportunity cost of waiting until 30 could cost a lot more that what shows up in a net worth statment. Time is money and the longer you wait the more you waste.

Guest's picture
Susan

I was never into partying or ringtones, so I am not giving up anything in those areas. All the other suggestions are useful things to consider, especially renting. Now is a good time to buy real estate, provided that you do your homework and purchase in the right location. If you choose to buy real estate in the current market, you should have plenty of money in an emergency savings, though. I don't think real estate prices will stay low for more than a few years from now.

Guest's picture
amy saves

i disagree about rent and buying a home. home prices haven't really fallen that much in CA and mortgages certainly aren't that cheap. if you can't afford a home, rent is still okay after 30.

Guest's picture

partying causes you to lose alot of money. bar bills can add up qiuckly.. Good post

Guest's picture

When it comes to partying, I think moderation is the key. I'm 34 and married with a kid and I still like to go out and have a few beers with my friends, play some pool, etc.

I don't think it's healthy to just turn off the tap of living it up a bit from time to time.

I still play video games a few times a year to get a quick fix to bring back memories from when I used to play them when I was a kid.

With regards to credit cards, it's the higher interest ones that tend to have the best rewards programs. I just received my BMO Air Miles Gold card in the mail this week and I'm getting 1000 free Air Miles. As long as I pay my balance frequently, I'm in the game. It's all good.

Nice post. Makes you think.

Maggie Wells's picture

The rent one is complete and utter BS. It depends on where you live and what you want out of life?I think a more specific post on rent/buying would be only but a house you built yourself or don't buy an old house. Or something. But blanketly saying buying a house over renting just doesn't cut it anymore.

I was a miserable homeowner with a falling apart house. Now I pay less rent than I did mortgage for more space in a house where everything works and is energy efficient. Happy renter who can now save all that repair and stress money for my kids' education. Smartest financial decision I ever made.

Guest's picture
Dominique

Instead of getting rid of credit cards that you've had since college, call the credit card company and ask for a lower interest rate. Most people don't realize this but the credit card companies need YOU, not the other way around (unless you are living off of your credit cards) and you have the power when it comes to asking for a lower interest rate, most people just dont realize it's something they can call and request.

If you have a good payment history with the card, you can often ask to speak to a supervisor who can dramatically lower your interest rate. I had cards from college that were at 26.99%, called multiple times and threatened to close the cards. All of those same cards are under 6% AND I've had them for so long, the credit card companies jump through hoops whenever I call to lower the interest rate, waive a late fee or increase my credit line. It also looks amazing on my credit report that I've maintained the same cards for 10+ years with a near perfect payment history and when I need to use them, I dont get slammed with ridiculous interest rates.

Guest's picture

I don't understand why anyone pays for ringtones, but I've got a 60+ year old family member that just bought a new phone and is complaining she has to repurchase several of her ringtones. I've never bought anything for my phone except a car charger.

Guest's picture
Guest

Not so sure on Rent. I'm able to rent dirt cheap in a large city and save a ton of money per month. If I were to buy, I'd be in debt up to my eyeballs and living paycheck to paycheck. That section alone could be a post in itself.

Guest's picture
Guest

Getting rid of unecessary expenses is always a good idea. So is doing the dishes, but we don't always do them. Sometimes we don't want to be on a budget because, we just don't want to take the time to do so, and other times its much more psychologically messy.

If you fall into the latter group then you really ought to get a counselor and face those past demons. They are doing you no good, and probably causing you more stress than disregarding them is helping.

The first group, hey time to wise up and cut back on some expenses.

Guest's picture

Renting a home can be an option for some people, especially when you take maintenance costs into account. Also when you rent you can move without incurring the costs and delay in selling a home.

Guest's picture
Tom

If a 30 year old has to be told the things in this article I'm not sure I have much hope for them, unless they have a developmental condition. I'm sorry I know that sounds harsh, but at 22 years old my oldest child doesn't even have to be told this stuff.

Guest's picture

I doubt that home-owning is a wealth creator. Even if it is a dream house and only 10-20 years old...the chances are it will not be you last home.

It will get too old by the time you are ready to retire. While it is cheaper to rent, why not just keep saving money? Believe you me in 5-15 years baby boomers
will start downsizing, there will be no shortage of houses on the market at very affordable price.

Unless we will easy immigration rules to let more Europeans in.

Guest's picture
Leslie

I enjoyed this article! The funny thing is if we actually did half of these things in our early twenties, we would have been much further ahead as we started our thirties. As I approach forty, I am happy to say that I still have a lot of fun, but do it within a budget that keeps my expenses and savings in line.

Guest's picture

I agree totally. I have lived all my life this way. I just see no purpose of buying want when the necessary things in life aren't taken care of.

Guest's picture

Video Games has been the hardest to drop for me. I've always enjoyed them as a time killer, now I force myself to concentrate on more productive activities.

Guest's picture

Of course if you're married, the partying one may be over anyway (he says chuckling..kind of)

Guest's picture
Tammy

Since the title image said "Level 30 Game Over" I thought this article would say to stop wasting money on video games when you are 30. I guess my bf can keep playing for another ten years or so.

Guest's picture

Great list Chris. I'm only in my 20's, but I've certainly made it my goal to own my own home by 30. I can't even imagine what it's like to still be rent past the age of 30, or even 40 for that matter. Hopefully the fact that I'm starting to save early will play in my favor.

Guest's picture
Guest

Good article but, of course, it just skims the "tip of the iceberg" for the 30-somthing crowd. Still, each age group needs to start somewhere.

Patti, Author
Frugal Matters

Guest's picture
Christina D.

Um...ringtones and wallpaper for your phone? I don't pay for those in my 20s. Most phones allow you to use photos you've take as wallpapers, or you can take a picture from online and put it on your memory card to be a wallpaper. And with a great app called ringdroid, I can take the music I put on my phone, cut out my favorite piece and creat my own ringtones and notification sounds.