First, start putting a little money aside now for the college education of your children, no matter how young they currently are. Getting a jump on the cost of college will make it easier for you to do some retirement planning for yourself.
Second, if you have time, take a course on retirement planning through your local junior college or some neutral organization. Don’t sign up with someone who will want to pressure you into buying their particular retirement package.
Third, fully explore the retirement investment options offered by your current employer. IRAs and 401(k) plans didn’t exist when I was 30 but many employers will offer at least a partial match for what you set aside on a regular basis. Find out what your options are and then make a decision that is right for you in your current economic situation.
Make an initial investment in the stock market (it doesn’t need to be very large) so that you will start following the market and learn what equity investing is all about. Pick a company that has a product or service that you personally like. When my children were small, I purchased stock for their college accounts in companies like Walt Disney, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s that they could relate to. Our five-year-old grandson recently visited Disney World and wanted to know what part of the park he owned. His parents explained that his investment probably accounted for a few blades of grass, but at least he was curious to know.
Once you can afford to do so, buy rather than rent so that you are building up equity in a house. The real-estate market can be fickle but over the long-haul you will probably come out ahead.
Avoid credit-card debt like the plague. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you have a big debt service each month and have nothing left to save. I know that credit-card debt is tempting because it is so easy to get multiple cards these days, but don’t paint yourself in a corner.
Finally, save a little something out of each paycheck. You can start small but get in the habit. Once your income goes up you can start saving a little more. And once your savings reach a certain amount, invest what you have rather than earning next to nothing in interest. Be conservative in your investments, but put your money to work for you.