Last month I celebrated my 32nd birthday. I’m not a big birthday person. My usual celebration is dinner at an upscale restaurant with the boyfriend and my folks and then a girls night with a few glasses of bubbly. Birthdays do get me thinking about where I’m at and if I’m happy. Reflecting on the good and the bad from the past year helps make sure I’m on the right track with my finances, my career and my personal life and set goals for the upcoming year. And because I’m a blogger, I figured hey, why not write a list of goals for your 30s for myself and you guys.

All of these are things I’m working on, so join me and let’s nail this whole 30s thing.

1. Pay Off Debt

It’s time; debt was so last decade. Whether you have high-interest consumer debt or are plugging away at your mortgage the goal is to eliminate as much of it as possible. If you have multiple sources of debt then you need to start with a plan; you can either snowball or avalanche it. Mortgage debt is less worrying for me, and I do put specific savings goals ahead of it, but even increasing your mortgage payment by $100 each month can make a big difference in how fast you’ll be able to pay it off in full.

The best part of paying off debt is the freedom it gives you when it’s gone. All of sudden you have all this extra money in your budget that you can divert to new areas that may need some attention.

2. Increase Savings

The opposite of debt is saving, and that’s making the list too. Your 30s are likely the decade where you’re hitting your stride when it comes to your career and with that comes better stability in your income. That means it’s time to put that income to work and start setting it aside for the future.

Maybe you want to buy a home? Or fund your children’s education? Or take a cruise around the world? All those things need money. Make it your mission to start saving or increase the saving you are already doing.

3. Travel (Check off that Bucket List Destination)

And now permission to spend! Do it the right way though. This is a list of goals for your entire 30s, so you have ten years to check things off your list. Follow step two and increase your travel fund so you can go on your dream vacation without going into debt.

I’m a homebody, but I still love to travel, just not long-term (I miss my pups!) There’s something special about getting out of your comfort zone and experiencing a new culture. The bucket list trip I have on my list? The Czech Republic at the end of 2019 to watch the World Juniors.

4. Read More, Watch Less

I love TV as much as the next person and have been known to lose entire weekends to a binge-watching session, but books are better. Reading gives your brain a workout in ways that TV never can, and it also improves your language and writing skills.

Need some inspiration; here are a few of my all-time favourite books:

5. Have (or change) your Career Path

Us millennials are known for changing jobs. There’s nothing wrong with that, but by your 30s you do want to ensure you have consistent income coming in the door. Getting your parents to continually bail you out doesn’t have the same charm as it did in your 20s.

Figure out what it is you enjoy doing and develop that into a career you can make work for you. You might be thinking that not working is what’s best for you. Ok, but then you need to figure out what you can do now to make that happen as soon as possible. There are so many unique opportunities out there to be an entrepreneur and earn a living by working for yourself. It’s not an easy path, but if you love it and put in the work, it is more achievable than ever. But, there’s also nothing wrong with working for ‘the man’. Some people (me) are a-ok working a typical office job if it’s for the right company.

Related Post: Do You Really Have To Love Your Job?

6. Give Back

Find a charity you believe in and support them. This can mean monetary donations, but it can also mean giving your time through volunteering. You’ll get the feel-good effect of making a positive difference in the world, and it can help check your privilege. Enough said.

7. Start a Side Hustle

Earning extra income is always a good thing. And diversifying your income sources also gives you added security in case of a sudden job loss or emergency. How do you do that? Start a side hustle. Enjoy writing? Start a blog or seek out freelancing gigs. Love dogs? Become a dog walker or pet sitter. Always the designated driver? Drive for Uber or Skip the Dishes in your free time. You don’t have to bring in a ton of money. Any amount can help you check off other goals on this list.

8. Adopt a New Hobby

So far there have been a lot of goals that relate to money (it’s kind of my thing if you haven’t noticed), but this one is just for the fun of it. Give yourself a nudge to try something new. It could be something crafty like knitting or painting, or you could learn a new skill like photography or speaking a new language.

Hobbies can keep your brain sharp and can also be a great way to meet new people.

9. Cook More, Eat Out Less

Cooking at home is not only good for your wallet, it’s better for your health. You control what goes into your food, and it’s easier to tailor to specific dietary needs.

Hate cooking? Me too! Luckily my partner doesn’t so he takes over the kitchen most of the time, but I do have a few things I can handle making to cover the gaps. I’ve written a few posts on meal planning before (here and here) so check those out for my favourite recipes.

Related Post: 20 Quick Dinners For People Who Hate Cooking

10. Be Active Regularly

Some people are so good about exercising, and others (me) are not. I know it’s important and it is absolutely one of my goals for my 30s to develop a more consistent routine.

11. Do you want to have kids?

This is a biggie for me because it’s still a grey area. Up until recently I always assumed I would have kids but now I realize that’s likely not what I want. I figured there would be a shift at some point where I would have the desire to have children, but I’m still waiting. Considering I’m in my early 30s, I still have time to change my mind; that won’t last forever though. By the end of this decade, I’ll need to know one way or another, and I’m certainly leaning towards no.

12. Connect with Friends (the good ones)

Friendships get weird as you get older. People change. They move, get new interests, have children, etc. and you can find yourself hanging out with people that you no longer have much in common with.

It’s ok to let these people go. I know it can be hard to build new friendships in your 30s, but there’s no upside to continuing to connect with people you don’t have fun with. Commit to the friendships that make you the happiest.

13. Know What Works For You (fashion, make-up, etc.)

I’m still a long way from being completely comfortable in my skin, but I do have a better feel for what does and doesn’t work when it comes to fashion and personal care.

I used to be a trend-aholic. You know how every season new styles come out and everyone jumps on them? That was me. The problem is that not all (not even most) worked for me. It’s way better (and cheaper) to only update one or two items and stick with your own set of basics. Same goes for make-up, skin care and hair products. Find a system that works and stop trying out new things. My skin is never better than when I stay consistent.

14. Save for Retirement

We already talked about upping your savings rate but saving specifically for retirement deserves its own category. Even if you don’t have plans to retire early, I’m guessing you still want to retire at some point. Your sixties aren’t that far off anymore and the longer you can let your retirement savings grow the better.

15. And have a Retirement Plan

Your 30s are also the time to start figuring out your retirement timeline. Do you want to retire before 50 or do you plan to stick it out until 65? Getting a financial plan completed will let you know if your goal is achievable and what you need to do to get there.

Knowing exactly how much money you need to put away each month is extremely motivating and makes it that much harder to waste money elsewhere.

16. Say NO!

We all get pressured into doing things we don’t want to do. There’s no getting out of everything, but you are allowed to say no. When your schedule is stressing you out, and you need a break, don’t hesitate to turn down offers and take time to yourself.

17. Don’t Stop Learning

I already talked about the importance of working out your body, but you also have to work out your brain.

Look for classes at your local library or community college, or you can find free online classes through Coursera. If you don’t want the commitment of a class then at least pick up a book that will teach you something new.

18. See Your Doctor & Dentist Annually

Just do it.

19. Appreciate Your Parents

Spend time with your family. If you’re a millennial like I am, your parents are getting older and won’t always be around. Call your mom, ask your dad for advice, set up a weekly coffee date, or plan a trip if they don’t live nearby.

Parents don’t expect huge gestures. Keep them in the loop and let them be involved in your life.

20. Create an Estate Plan

Since you’re building assets in your 30s, it’s a good idea to make sure they are protected, especially if you have dependents.

Getting your will, power of attorney, and personal directive in order can save your family a lot of grief if tragedy strikes.

21. Get Life Insurance

The younger you are the cheaper your life insurance will be, that’s why it makes sense to get it now if you’re not already insured. If you have anyone in your life (spouse, children, dependent parents, etc.) who relies on your income, then insurance is not optional.

Don’t get swayed but a sales pitch for whole or universal life insurance, all you need is term. Nothing fancy, just good old fashioned term insurance. And if you already have life insurance then make sure it’s enough to cover your obligations.

22. Master the Art of Small Talk

This one is specifically for me. If you too have trouble socializing with strangers then feel free to keep on your list, but I know it won’t apply to everyone.

I don’t have advice on actually improving your small talk, as I said, I’m terrible at it, so feel free to share your tips in the comments. Maybe there’s a Coursera course or something!

23. Quality Over Quantity

Stop buying junk! Your home will be a happier place if you only bring in things you really love. That goes for clothes, food, home decor and any other material possessions you buy.

24. Know Your Credit Score

You should be checking your credit annually, and if you’re not, then now is the perfect time to start.

By pulling your credit report, you can ensure there is no incorrect data included. The last thing you want is to get rejected for a loan because of a mistake in your credit history. It can be a time-consuming process to fix and not something you want to deal with at the exact wrong moment.

25. Develop a Self-Care Routine

Give yourself permission to have some me-time. You don’t need to draw an Instagram worthy bath or splurge on a spa day; the important thing is establishing a habit that makes you happy.

26. Stay Informed

Part of being a good citizen is understanding what is going on in the world. We all have a political bias but realizing that and keeping your mind open to new ideas will make you a heck of a lot easier to get along with.

Try to find a source that doesn’t only focus on the bad. It could be your local news station, The Daily Show, or even Twitter. You don’t want to be the only person at the party who doesn’t know that {insert famous person here} just passed away.

27. Accept Yourself

I’m still working on it, but I like to think that your 30s bring out a new level of confidence. You start to feel like your life decisions make sense, and not everyone is so much further ahead. It’s amazing how what other people think matters less when you feel good about where you’re at.

28. Invest in Nice Sheets

If you get the recommended 8 hours a night, you spend one-third of your life in bed. Make those hours the best they can be by investing in a comfortable mattress and high-quality sheets.

In the winter I’m all about flannel sheets, but the rest of the year I use these microfibre sheets because they’re soft, silky and affordable. I also started using a silk pillowcase because I heard it cuts down on frizzy hair, and I have noticed a difference.

29. Learn to Cope with Stress

There’s no way to eliminate stress completely. It is something we all have to deal with. However, understanding your triggers and having a few coping methods at the ready can make it that much easier.

Maybe you need to chill in a hot bubble bath on the regular or go to a boxing class to work out some aggression. We all handle stress differently so find what works for you.

30. Promote Yourself

I saved the worst for last. Self-promotion has never been something I’ve excelled at (goes along with the whole being bad at small talk). Some people are fantastic at putting themselves out there…and I hate them for it. Not really (just a little).

Being in the age of the side hustle and social media, it is important to put your best face forward to drum up business in your endeavours. The one good thing about that is it’s much easier to brag about yourself from behind a keyboard than it is in public.

That’s it, phew! Thirty things I’m working to improve in my own life while I live out my thirties and hopefully you’ll be inspired to do the same.

I’m interested to hear your thoughts. What have you already nailed down and what would you add to your own list? 

Want to make your 30s your best decade yet? Follow along with my 30 #goals for your thirties!

This post was proofread by Grammarly.

Image Credit: rawpixel


  1. This is such a good list! I particularly like mastering small talk. I learned a little nugget of wisdom when I was doing my yoga teacher training a couple of years ago that helped in social situations. People love talking about themselves. They also love filling silence with more talking. I lean into that hard when I’m in a social setting and just let people do most of the talking.

    PS. Mr.TA will be so jealous if you end up going to the Czech Republic for the World Juniors. He doesn’t care much for the NHL, but he is obsessed with the Juniors.

    • Sarah Reply

      That’s a great tip. Do you have any questions you use to trigger people to talk?

      Tell Mr. TA I’ll post pictures 😉

  2. I love lists like this! I have a 40 before 40 list that I’m slowly working through, but it’s got much more fun things on it!

    Agree with a most of your choices, some are quite American – we don’t really do preventative medicine here, we only are allowed to visit the doctor when ill. (The downside of the NHS).

    And I’m very anti life insurance, you ONLY need it if you have dependents that rely on your income.

    • Sarah Reply

      That’s interesting about the healthcare. I’m in Canada so we also have free healthcare and I think preventative care is still fairly prevalent. Life insurance is such a personal issue. Some people really need the extra security, but I’m more like you and think dependents are essential.

  3. Happy belated birthday! I’ll be 32 at the end of this month. As for lists, I keep them so regularly in my own day-to-day life, that I try not to worry about them in relation to age.

    But this is a pretty great list of goals to work toward! Never ending quest for self-improvement, right?

    • Sarah Reply

      Thanks Penny! I had no idea we were the same age. I’m a list keeper too. My Evernote is constantly filled up with to-do lists.

  4. Happy birthday! I love this list- everything is so important on this list.

    I’m loving my 30s so far and I remember reading Cosmo magazine that has women saying they love their 30s and they were right!

    I love the gif “I’m trying to elevate from small talk to medium talk”. I’m better at small talk when I have a glass of wine.

    • Sarah Reply

      Thanks GYM. I’m enjoying my thirties too. And yes, wine helps the small talk flow.

  5. Lol yes to good sheets. My husband slept on burlap sack sheets before he met me and I told him they needed to go. There weren’t even 100% cotton they piled so bad! We have 100% mircofiber sheets, they’re cheaper and just as good, that we use for our family and guests. Guests love it and they always message me to ask the brand. They’re random knock off brands hah!

    • Sarah Reply

      I really like microfiber sheets, they’re what we use too. The first time I bought a set was off Amazon and I thought the good reviews would all be lies because they were so cheap but they were amazing.

  6. Happy 32nd Birthday Sarah!! As a person in his late 30s, this list is pretty much on point. All of these goals are ones that I have focused on accomplishing during this decade. I still can’t get down the art of small talk. As an introvert it’s tough for me to have these shallow conversations. Maybe have your expectations low when having small talk.

    • Sarah Reply

      Thanks Kris, and I’ll do just that about keeping small talk expectations low. Not a skill that us introverts are good at.

  7. After the season the Islanders had, I needed this. I love all 30 of these goals, but number 19 is my favorite. I won the lottery with my parents. Really solid people. And I want to enjoy their company while I still can (they’re both in their late 70s). You’re the best, Sarah. Cheers.

  8. Sarah Reply

    Your comment made this April snowstorm we’re having a little easier to handle. Thanks Mr G.

  9. wealth from thirty Reply

    Great list Sarah. It’s surprising what a difference good bedsheets and a good pillow can make – an investment that pays you back every day. Happy 32nd Birthday!

    • Sarah Reply

      Thank you 😀 I’m happy you share my love of good sheets!

  10. Found myself nodding along with this whole list. The hardest one I’ve had to come to grips with is letting go of old friendships, but it’s an important one. Not everyone ends up in your future, and there are good reasons for that.

    • Sarah Reply

      I love how you put that; “not everyone ends up in your future”.

      I’ve found that I have a much more selective group of friends now than when I was younger, but I do sometimes feel guilty for letting some go.

  11. I love this list! I’m reading your post exactly a year later, a day before my thirtieth birthday- so it feels very timely!
    I’m also writing my list, although a bit different as I’m a mom of two young boys I feel my thirties is going to all about them! Which I’m totally looking forward too but I will need to remeber to do a lot of the things on this list like annual checkups, savings, life insurance, paying off our mortgage and self care! So easy to fall on the back burner!

    • Sarah Reply

      So easy to let things fall on the back burner, especially when it’s things for yourself as you have kids to take care of! Hope you had a wonderful birthday and welcome to thirty!

  12. Rene A Ponce Reply

    Great list. I’m 29 going on 30 at the end of the year and it feels like everything I was told about my 20’s was true: they’d be difficult, strange, and I’d feel lost. But now that I’m near the end, things are starting to make sense, and you’ve made an excellent list I can tackle for the next decade! Thanks 🙂

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