Big Purchases You Should Make by 30, 40, and 50


It used to be that major purchases such as a house or a car were rites of passage into adulthood. Sure, times are changing, and the new generation isn't buying all the things their parents did. But there are some things you probably can't avoid buying. Here are the big purchases most of us should make by ages 30, 40, or 50.

By Age 30

By the time we reach 30 we've turned the corner from the youth to adulthood, and our possessions show it.

A Car

As more people choose to live in cities, and use mass transit or ride-sharing apps, it's become less necessary to own a car. That said, many of us still have a lifestyle that requires owning a set of wheels. If this is the case for you, by the age of 30, you probably should have purchased a car by yourself for yourself. (See also: The Joy of Buying a New Car: 9 Car Buying Tips)

A Real Bed

This is something everyone avoids for years. Millenials have bought and sold cars well before buying a new bed for themselves. Once you are old enough to live on your own, an ugly used frame propping up a decades-old (and filthy) mattress just won't do. A more comfortable bed will help you sleep better, and sleeping better will improve your overall health, which will cost you less in the long run. It's one of the best investments you can make in your 20s. Now that one can buy affordable and comfortable mattresses online, there's no excuse anymore!

By Age 40

What lies around the corner from age 30? A nest and a family of one's own.

A Home

This can be the most emotional purchase you'll ever make, especially in areas of the country where it's virtually impossible for the average person to afford a home. For those of us who want to own our own home, working toward buying before age 40 is a worthy goal. It's wise to start making sound decisions in your 20s and 30s that will keep your financial state healthy, such as building your credit, in anticipation of a home loan.

Home Appliances

Not every home, whether bought or rented, will come equipped with everything you need. As you get older, you'll probably grow tired of washing your dishes in the sink, or going to the laundromat like you did in your 20s. Eventually, you'll break down and buy a refrigerator, dishwasher, a washer/dryer set, or woodworking tools for the garage. Make sure you do your comparison homework in order to get the best appliance deals.

By Age 50

By now the roots are set deep and the big purchases are behind us, but there are a few big buys that mark time's passage.

Life Insurance

As you get older and have children, you'll want to be covered for whatever may happen. By age 50, you'll almost definitely want to consider life insurance — well before you develop any chronic health issues or are old enough for premiums to skyrocket. Think about what you need from your life insurance and start planning your beneficiaries' financial future. (See also: Universal Life Insurance and Whole Life Insurance: A Comparison)

Contractor Work

At this point in your life, making renovations on your bathroom or kitchen, adding on to your home, or re-landscaping your backyard is common. In fact, some renovations nearly pay for themselves over time. If you've never hired a contractor, you'll need to create a budget and detailed timeline, along with a cash buffer for incidentals, accidents, and hotels if you cannot stay in the home at a certain point. Extra frugal? It's also worth considering DIY renovations.

Which major purchases do you think signify life milestones?

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Guest's picture

Good guide here. Actually did make me look back and try to remember the last time I bought a mattress was... let's just say I'll be following this post's advice now!

Guest's picture

I'd highly recommend people purchase life insurance well before 50 if they have children. You should purchase it as soon as you have children.

Guest's picture

Bogus. You are advocating for spending that is not critical.

Guest's picture

An education is another milestone. A job. Without a decent income the other things aren't possible.