How do you invest for retirement in your 30s?

1 min read by Unbiased team Last updated June 28, 2024

Unpack the key steps of how to invest in your 30s to build a robust retirement plan that ensures your financial security and quality of life in your golden years.


  • Set realistic retirement goals by estimating needed income based on lifestyle and longevity. 

  • Diversify investments with stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and ETFs to manage risk and enhance returns. 

  • Consider balancing debt repayment with retirement savings to optimize financial stability. 

  • With the help of a financial advisor, you can maximize your savings and ensure you have enough money to last throughout retirement.  

Why start saving for retirement in your 30s? 

Investing for retirement in your 30s is crucial for building a secure financial future.  

The power of compound interest means that the earlier you start, the more your money can grow. For instance, investing $300 a month from age 30 can accumulate significantly more than starting the same amount at age 40. 

Starting in your 20s is ideal, but understanding how to catch up on retirement savings in your 30s still gives you ample time to build substantial retirement savings.  

An early start, even in your 30s, reduces financial stress later in life and gives you greater flexibility in your career and life choices. 

What are some retirement savings options in your 30s? 

Here are some ways you can invest money in your 30s to secure your financial future:  

  • 401(k): Many employers offer these plans, allowing you to contribute pre-tax income. This reduces your taxable income and lets your investments grow tax-deferred until withdrawal, often with additional boosts from employer matches. 

  • Traditional IRA: Contributions are tax-deductible, and your investments grow tax-deferred, making this a good option if you don't have access to a 401(k). 

  • Roth IRA: With a Roth IRA, you contribute with after-tax dollars, but withdrawals in retirement are tax-free. This is beneficial if you anticipate being in a higher tax bracket later in life. 

Each option has its perks and limitations. It's essential to balance these choices based on your current financial situation and future plans. 

How do you set retirement goals? 

Setting realistic and achievable retirement goals in your 30s starts with assessing your current income, expected career growth, and personal aspirations.  

Begin by estimating how much you’ll need to retire comfortably. This depends on factors like your desired retirement lifestyle, expected longevity, and healthcare costs.  

A common rule of thumb is to aim for a retirement income that is 70-80% of your pre-retirement income. Once you have a target, break it down into smaller, manageable milestones. 

Review and adjust your goals regularly. Life changes, such as career shifts, economic conditions, and evolving personal goals, can impact your retirement plans and the best investments to make in your 30s. This ongoing assessment ensures you stay aligned with your financial objectives. 

How do you create a budget that includes retirement savings? 

Knowing how to start saving for retirement in your 30s starts with creating a budget that prioritizes retirement savings and with understanding your income and expenses.  

  • List all your monthly expenses, including rent, utilities, groceries, and discretionary spending.  

  • Identify areas where you can cut back and allocate those savings toward your retirement fund.  

  • Aim to save at least 15-20% of your income for retirement. This might seem challenging, but disciplined spending can make it achievable.  

While answering the question of how much should I be saving in my 30s for my retirement is crucial, don’t compromise your current lifestyle to the point of misery.  

Find a balance. Allocate funds for entertainment and hobbies, but do so within reason. The goal is to create a sustainable budget that supports both your present and future needs. 

How do you maximize employer-sponsored retirement plans? 

Employer-sponsored plans like 401(k)s offer significant benefits, especially with matching contributions. For instance, if your employer matches 50% of your contributions up to 6% of your salary, aim to contribute at least 6% to maximize this benefit. 

Understand vesting and contributions terms. Vesting schedules specify when you gain full ownership of employer contributions. Familiarizing yourself with these terms when investing in your 30s ensures you optimize benefits and make sure you get all the employer contributions if you switch jobs. 

What are other investment options in your 30s? 

Investing in your 30s by diversifying your retirement portfolio with other investment options can enhance your savings.  

Here are some of the best investments to make in your 30s: 

  • Investing in individual stocks can offer high returns but come with higher risk.  

  • Bonds are generally safer than stocks and provide regular interest income.  

  • Mutual Funds and ETFs pool money from multiple investors to invest in a diversified portfolio of stocks, bonds, or other assets.  

Knowing how to invest money in your 30s is all about understanding risk versus reward. Young investors can afford to take more risks since they have time to recover from market downturns. Align your investments with your risk tolerance and financial goals. 

Should you prioritize making debt repayment alongside retirement savings? 

Balancing debt repayment with retirement savings can be challenging, but it’s essential to manage both. High-interest debt, like credit cards, should be prioritized as it can quickly balloon and offset any investment gains. 

Create a strategy that allocates funds to both debt repayment and retirement savings.  

For example, you might focus on paying down debt aggressively while contributing enough to your retirement accounts to get an employer match. Once your high-interest debt is under control, you might increase your retirement contributions. 

Should you consider life insurance and estate planning? 

Life insurance is crucial in your 30s, especially if you have dependents. It ensures that your family is financially protected in case of your untimely death.  

Term life insurance offers affordable coverage for a set period, typically until your children are grown or your mortgage is paid off. 

Estate planning is also essential. Establishing a will ensures that your assets are distributed according to your wishes. Consider setting up a trust to manage your assets effectively and reduce estate taxes.  

What is the importance of an emergency fund? 

When considering how to invest in your 30s, an emergency fund is crucial to avoid dipping into your retirement savings in case of unforeseen expenses.  

Aim to save 3-6 months' worth of living expenses in a separate, easily accessible account. 

This fund acts as a financial safety net, allowing you to cover unexpected costs like medical bills or car repairs without jeopardizing your retirement savings. Regularly contribute to your emergency fund until you reach your target amount, and replenish it if you use it. 

Effective management of your emergency fund includes keeping it in a high-yield savings account to earn interest while maintaining liquidity.  

Get expert financial advice 

As you navigate investing in your 30s, prioritizing retirement savings, strategic planning, and diversified approaches can set a strong foundation for your financial future. By understanding your options, setting realistic goals, and balancing current needs with future aspirations, you can confidently build towards a secure retirement while adapting to life's changing circumstances. 

Let Unbiased connect you with a financial advisor for expert financial advice on how to invest in your 30s to maximize your retirement nest egg.  


Unbiased team

Our team of writers, who have decades of experience writing about personal finance, including investing and retirement, are here to help you find out what you must know about life’s biggest financial decisions.