7 habits of people who become financially stable in their 30s and 40s, according to psychology

Financial stability doesn’t just fall in one’s lap when they enter their 30s. In fact, plenty of 30 and 40-year-olds I know still struggle in that department.

And that’s because financial literacy isn’t age-dependent. It’s entirely rooted in your habits, your willingness to learn, and your desire to achieve a level of financial freedom that makes you feel safe enough to live your life on your own terms.

So, what are the 7 habits of people who become financially stable in their 30s and 40s?

Let’s jump right in.

1) They track their spending

Sounds pretty obvious, right?

Except most people don’t actually put in the effort to track their spending in a sustainable, consistent manner.

Many more still do their tracking but don’t let that knowledge guide their future spending, and so the whole act of staying on top of one’s finances becomes useless – it doesn’t matter if you know you’re over your budget unless you actually stop spending money and stay at home.

The issue is that tracking your spending can be… well, dull. Not everyone wants to put every single coffee on an Excel sheet.

What’s more, some people can find it triggering to obsessively track where each penny goes due to past financial anxieties (I’m speaking from personal experience on that one).

Luckily, there are many different ways to track your spending, some much more relaxed than others.

Here’s a simple calculation I like to use:

  • My income – necessary expenses, including savings and direct debit subscriptions = my available spending for the month

Once I’ve got a concrete number, I send it over to a bank account I use for daily spending. Then I occasionally check it to make sure I’m on track and won’t go over my budget.

2) They second doubt their shopping urges

“The rush we feel when spending money is temporary; being more intentional about what we buy can reduce our stress and boost our well-being,” says Marty Nemko Ph.D., a life coach with a degree in educational psychology.

“We all enjoy the rush of picking, buying, and enjoying what we buy. And often, it’s worth the money. Alas, sometimes we get into the habit of buying as a way to get that jolt, but, like a line of cocaine, it lasts but a short time while the liabilities are long-lasting.”

This is incredibly important to keep in mind. Are you shopping because you feel sad, lonely, or in need of a distraction, or are you shopping because you genuinely believe this purchase will make your life better?

For example, buying a new hair mask when my old one has run out is an expense I can rationalize to myself. A hair mask makes my hair silkier, softer, and shinier, which boosts my confidence and makes me feel better about myself on a daily basis.

If I were to buy a dress that I’m not 100% sure about and that I might wear once or twice, though…

That’s a different story.

Hence why I like to use a simple strategy: if I want to buy something, I give myself twenty-four hours to think about it.

If I’m still set on the purchase one day later and can find a logical reason as to how it will improve my life, I’ll go and get it.

3) They keep their lifestyle demands moderate

According to experts, money does make us happier – but only to a certain point.

Once you reach a high level of comfort, it’s no longer money itself that increases your satisfaction but rather your social standing as compared to other people in your surroundings.

This is why many people don’t get richer despite an increase in income. Once they have more money, their spendings skyrocket.

They begin to shop in higher-quality supermarkets, buy a new car, go on more holidays, wear more jewellery, or pick up more expensive hobbies now that they can finally afford them.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you shouldn’t enjoy life now that you’re finally able to do so. I love the fact that I can go bouldering or swimming whenever I want, can afford a gym membership, and get to travel the world.

But you’ve got to keep your feet planted firmly on the ground.

As the book The Millionaire Next Door suggests, it is often those who seem to have very moderate and ordinary lifestyles who are the real millionaires precisely because they don’t live beyond their means and therefore save up a lot each year.

If your lifestyle demands keep growing in accordance with your income, how can you expect to see a real difference in your financial stability?


4) They invest in assets rather than liabilities

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from reading the famous book Rich Dad, Poor Dad, it’s that people who are more and more financially stable as time goes on invest in assets, not liabilities.

And what do I mean by that?

An asset is something that grows in value as time goes on. A liability, on the other hand, decreases in value.

In today’s world, a house is an asset (if you can comfortably afford its maintenance or if you can rent it out). Well-chosen stocks and shares are assets.

A car is a liability. It drops in value the longer you use it.

Unfortunately, most people don’t think that way.

They take out a loan for a car instead of using public transport for a while longer.

They spend money on expensive takeouts that disappear in half an hour instead of going to the supermarket and cooking something healthy for themselves.

They drive a car to the gym instead of walking for fifteen minutes as a warm-up.

If you want to become financially free as soon as possible, think long-term. Invest in things that will improve your life in the long run instead of spending your money on short-term pleasure or on keeping up with the Joneses.

And that brings us to the next point…

5) They invest in the long-term nourishment of the soul

Good investments aren’t necessarily financial or material. They don’t include only stocks, paintings, or real estate.

As we mentioned above, a great investment is one that grows in value over time. And what’s more valuable than skills, knowledge, and emotional well-being?

These are just a few examples of investments that may contribute to your general happiness or improve your skillset, thereby increasing your chance of reaching financial stability:

  • Formal education
  • Online courses
  • Therapy
  • Hobby group memberships
  • Books
  • Expenses that result from spending high-quality time with great friends
  • Educational excursions and trips
  • Gym subscription
  • Self-care practices

The happier, more educated and emotionally intelligent you are, the more likely you’ll be to pursue your goals and keep those happiness levels high by remaining financially responsible.

6) They set firm financial boundaries

Possibly the most difficult habit on the list, setting boundaries is an incredibly important part of financial stability.


Because boundaries don’t only dictate the limits of your relationships with others – they also guide you to have a healthy and sustainable relationship with yourself.

In her book Set Boundaries, Find Peace, therapist Nedra Glover Tawwab writes, “The ability to say no to yourself is a gift. If you can resist your urges, change your habits, and say yes to only what you deem truly meaningful, you’ll be practicing healthy self-boundaries.”

She says that some of the financial boundaries we could consider are:

  • “I will not loan money to anyone if I can’t afford to offer it as a gift”
  • “I will cosign a loan for someone only under the following conditions: ___”
  • “I will not cosign for anyone”
  • “I will establish emergency savings”

Remember: boundaries aren’t meant to restrict you. They are meant to guide you so that you can reach long-term happiness.

7) They continue to educate themselves on finance

Growing up, very few of us received high-quality education on personal finance.

Almost no teachers talked to us about the importance of investing, not only because it wasn’t a requirement but also because they very likely didn’t invest themselves.

No one taught us how to track our spending, how to shift our mindset to one of abundance rather than scarcity, and how to look for savings accounts with the best interest rates – especially if our own parents didn’t possess that knowledge themselves.

This is why the best possible way to become financially stable at any point in life is to educate yourself. And continue to do so.

Read books about personal finance. Watch YouTube videos on investment portfolios. Read up on the importance of credit score.

If your caretakers and teachers didn’t show you how to do it, the internet will.

It’s time to make your own way in the world.

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

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