Your 40's could be considered one of the most financially difficult years of your life. At this 40th year of life, my wife and I are balancing multiple lifestyle costs such as starting a family (via IVF - more on that later); aging parents/grandparents, buying and maintaining a home, and trying to save for a comfortable retirement. All these life events can cause high stress levels.
If I were to go back and talk to my 30 year old self, I probably would have made better decisions back then which would lead to a much more comfortable life now. Living in regret of my financial decisions and habits in my 30's is not going to change my present, but they can provide some insight to others to not make similar mistakes.
If you were able to establish good financial habits during your 30's, they can be carried into your 40's and make things easier.
Here is my advice for my 30 year old self:
Take more risks
You are likely to have many more years of financial accumulation ahead, and therefore your 30's can be considered the best time to take on a realistic level of 'good risk'. Take chances with your investment and retirement accounts with riskier investments. I wish I would have put more money into individual company stocks instead of the Vanguard target date 2045 retirement fund. If only I would have known Netflix would rule entertainment, or that Amazon was going to become the face of retail.
Invest now in assets that can grow in value, such as property. Instead of blowing my disposable cash on bars and ex-girlfriends, I should have poured money into a savings for a down payment. You won't have to worry too much about market cycles because most should wash out over 30 years (the maximum amount of time available in which to pay off a property.)
Stop thinking “I don’t need to worry about my finances now”
Even though you are worried about finding your ideal career, starting a family, and contributing towards retirement, you will be distracted by others pushing you to travel while young and party now and worry later. Pay the price of discipline now so that you can live the way you want later. Make a concerted effort to ensure your financial goals don't take a back seat. Treat each important decision as if you were retiring in a few months, not decades.
Seek advice from a financial professional
Stop thinking you can do this alone. It is easy to fall into the mindset that you don't need help with your money and that you can make the best decisions. This is an even easier trap to fall into when you work in financial services. It is always prudent to ask for guidance from a financial professional such as an independent financial adviser (IFA). He/she can answer the critical questions that can help determine which investment should meet your financial circumstances and help keep you accountable to your goals.
By instituting these simple financial practices in your 30's, you should find it much easier to live a more balanced lifestyle. Your choices from a younger age can give you the freedom to spend more time with your friends and family while having peace of mind that your finances are under control. It’s never too early to become financially savvy. Don't live in regret. Make smart choices now for an even stronger future.