Sandra Reed: Life care planning for your 30s

Who Are the 30-Somethings?

Adults in their 30s today were born between 1974 and 1984. According to some commentators, the early part of that decade birthed “Generation X” or the “Gen Xers.” Other commentators have dubbed them “Millennials” or “Gen Y.”

Attorney Sandra W. Reed answers your life planning questions.

Attorney Sandra W. Reed answers your life planning questions.

The researchers argue not only about what to call those born during this period, but also what years it spans and what typifies the group. On one debate fence side sit William Straus and Neil Howe, who predict in their book, Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation, that this group will become highly civic minded, with a sense of community that extends beyond the local to the global.

Across the fence stand William A. Draves and Julie Coates, who argue in Nine Shift: Work, Life and Education in the 21st Century that the Millennials demonstrate behaviors, values and attitudes of narcissism and self-centeredness. Draves and Coates blame the “me, me, me” tendencies they see in Gen X and Gen Y technological and economic influences spawned by the Internet.

Although both sides’ views are speculative, some findings give insight into Millennials’ thinking. According to a survey of entering college students conducted by UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute, 70 percent of Gen Xers and 75 percent of Millennials view getting rich as a high priority.  Only 45 percent of Millennials said that developing “a meaningful philosophy of life” was of high importance. (See the“Millennials” Wikipedia entry as source of these statistics and for more on the subject.)

Life Care Planning Intensifies in the 30s

I like the optimistic version of the Millennials’ future. Regardless of which prevails, the Millennials will need Life Care Planning to succeed personally and financially in order give back as civic-minded citizens. Their road to success has been negatively impacted by a recession that has lasted five years and created a weakened job market, a market of which they are a large part. According to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics, Millennials will make up 50 percent of the workforce by 2020.

This generation looks at a career path much differently than did earlier ones. In Forbes magazine Kate Taylor writes that instead of hunkering down with one career and a single employer, they tend to leave a company in fewer than three years. This generation diverges in its view of family life, as well, with many delaying childbirth until the mid- to late-30s and even into their 40s.

Nancy Anderson, another Forbes contributor, advises these job-hopping 30-Somethings to carefully compare the retirement and insurance benefits offered by each employer considered. She gives this example: a 30-year-old with a salary of $75,000 a year, who saves 10 percent and earns 8 percent (a tough goal in today’s world) would have $600,000 at age 55.  A 30-year- old, whose employer matches his 10 percent with a 5 percent contribution and a 5 percent profit-sharing plan, can accrue $1.2 million by age 55.

Aware that many 30-Somethings are waiting until their 30s to marry for the first time, Anderson also suggests choosing a partner carefully and planning on inking of marriage for life. She focuses on the devastating effects, emotionally and financially, of divorce. It is a small leap from her advice to the admonition to take all steps possible to stay together, unless the relationship is abusive, physically or emotionally.

If children are a desirable part of the future, Anderson and other experts advocate that Millennials have babies earlier than later. The medical profession lays out the health risks to mother and child of delay. As might be expected, the Forbes writer stresses the economics of having children earlier. Waiting until until 35 to start a family means the end of those expensive college years won’t come until parents are 60 or older, leaving fewer years to focus on retirement savings.

By their 30s, most Millennials will have moved out of Mom and Dad’s house. Then they are faced with the decision whether to rent or to buy.  The resolution reached will depend on consideration of a number of factors and requires a sophisticated analysis to determine, economically, which is the best strategy and for how long.

Life Care Planning Checklist for Thirty Somethings

  • Continue to adhere to the checklist for the 20-Somethings (see last week’s column posted on this website).
  • Make detailed comparisons of the advantages and disadvantages of renting or purchasing shelter.  Be certain to include the cost of borrowing through a mortgage, utility costs, including water, sewage, heating and cooling, maintenance, improvements, taxes and insurance as compared with a monthly rental fee. Don’t assume appreciation from purchasing a residence and don’t neglect the potential of an increase in rent.
  • Update these legal documents: (1) Medical Power of Attorney; (2) Statutory Durable Power of Attorney; (3) Medical Directive; and (4) will.  If the last will was executed before having a child, it is essential to execute a new will or add a codicil to the old will, naming a guardian to care for these children in the event both parents are unable to care for them due to death or incapacity.  Consider additional revisions to these legal documents due to any change of circumstances, such as divorce, deaths or incapacities of named executors or other representatives or beneficiaries or acquisitions of significant property.
  • Keep track of expenses and curtail the cost of consumables wherever possible. For instance, give up the twice-a-day Starbucks fix, the two glasses of wine a night instead of one. Drop the gym membership you never use. Avoid purchasing unneeded items because the sales price is such a bargain. To make it easier to abstain, calculate how much the “guilty pleasures” cost over a 30-year span.
  • Remember the stakes are higher for proper planning in the 30s.  The longer planning mistakes are left uncorrected, the shorter the time for the adjustments implemented to have beneficial effects.  It’s just that simple.

Sandra W. Reed is an attorney practicing in Glen Rose. She is of counsel with the elder law firm of Katten & Benson in Fort Worth. Contact her at 254-797-0211 or at




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>