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Things Everyone Should Do Before Turning 30

Sunset at Ke'e BeachI’m not sure when the feeling of invincibility we all have as teenagers and young adults starts to fade. I’ve never been one to test my boundaries too much, but I certainly did things in my 20’s that I wouldn’t dream of now. We had a family tragedy of sorts last week, and it has really caused me to think about life, youth, and all the things everyone really should do before turning 30, especially if you are a parent or are thinking about becoming one.

Gone Too Soon

One of my younger cousins passed away last week. He was 30 years old and died of a massive heart attack. We were not close, and I hadn’t seen him in over a decade, but his Mom is my aunt, so I’ve kept up with him over the years.

At first glance, you would have thought he was the picture of perfect health. He wasn’t obese. He was apparently a genius with construction type jobs and did really well in his career. He looked handsome and strong, someone you’d think would have his whole life ahead of him.

There was also a darker side. Without going into detail, I guess you could say he “lived hard.” His autopsy showed an enlarged heart that was not able to hold up under the strain it was being put through. He leaves behind a wife and young son.

You Never Know When Your Time Is Up

While my cousin’s outward appearance did not mirror his overall health, even the most health conscious of us never know when our time is up. Is there anyone out there who doesn’t have a friend or relative who died too soon and unexpectedly?

While this tragedy is on my mind, it has me thinking of all the things we need to do often don’t. I put off many unpleasant things myself, especially the one about getting my financial life in order. If I’d kicked the bucket while we were $30,000 in debt, I would have left my family in financial ruin. That certainly is not the legacy I want to be remembered for. These are some reminders to take care of before you turn 30 or right now if you’ve already passed that milestone.

Life Insurance

If anyone depends on your income, you need to get life insurance. Even if your significant other has a career and good income, you never know what experiencing a sudden loss might do to a person’s psyche.

If you have young children, this is an absolute must. With the loss of my cousin’s income, his wife is not going to have the luxury of taking a long time off to recover and help their son understand that his Daddy is not coming home. I’m sure family will pitch in to support them, but there is no way this is going to be an easy time. Money does not heal all wounds, but it does make it easier to grieve and recover when  your worries aren’t about paying the mortgage or keeping food on the table.

A Will

Even if you don’t have any assets, parents need to have a will that states what they want to happen to their children if they are not around. Can you imagine family members fighting and going to court over who gets to raise the kids? What if the person whose values you don’t support wants to take them?

No one is ever going to raise your children exactly as you would, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to have plans for the unthinkable. Also make sure the person you choose knows and is willing before you put it in the will.  This is one of the hardest things we’ve done as parents, but it’s done, and I don’t have to think about it every day.

A Physical

To our knowledge, my cousin had no idea about his enlarged heart. I don’t know if it would have shown up on a routine physical or not, but it does make you wonder if his death might have been prevented if he’d known. No one likes to go the the doctor, but you owe it to yourself and your family to try and be as proactive as possible toward your health.

Look At Your Habits

If you take a long hard look at yourself, are there things you do on a daily basis that are putting you or your family at risk? This can be anything from living paycheck to paycheck, eating crap, drinking too much, smoking, or setting a bad example in your personal relationships.

No one is perfect, and we all want to enjoy life, but if you look toward the future, is there a behavior you have now that you don’t won’t to pass along to your children? We all have to put on our big boy/girl pants and live for ourselves as adults. You can’t blame choices on anyone else, but it’s hard to deny patterns.

My cousin had a very turbulent childhood until he was about 11 years old. His biological father had many of the same behaviors he seemed to develop as an adult. Ironically, his half sister, who has had a very stable upbringing, has never had any behavior issues. She is an honor student on a full scholarship currently. I’m not blaming or saying it would have turned out any differently had they both been raised similarly, but it does make you wonder.

It’s very hard to break habits, whatever they are, but if you don’t want your kids to be exposed, make changes now.


It’s true that you do only live once, but I don’t want to be remembered as someone who never lived up to my potential. I hope, even if I die tomorrow, that people will remember me as someone who was honest, worked hard, but also took the time to enjoy life and my priorities. Most of all, I want to be remembered as a good wife, mother, and friend instead of someone who was going to get around to it someday.

What have you been putting off that you should do today?  Why?

About Kim Parr

Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist, freelance writer, and personal financial blogger. You can follow her journey to 20/20 financial vision at Eyes on the Dollar.


  1. Ugh im so sorry. One of my best friends friends died of a massive heart attack at 28 with no indication why…one of those weird things. I really need to get a comprehensive life insurance policy. I have individual debts insured but need to get on ot. I have no excuse why i haven’t just a time thing.

    • It is a pain to get life insurance. I’m not sure how it works in Canada, but we generally have to have a physical and blood draw here. Not fun, but it’s a great peace of mind.

  2. Sorry to hear about your cousin Kim. Like you said, we never know when our time is going to come. I know it’s easy to allow that to lull us into thinking we’re either invincible or that we have time, but that’s simply not the case. We have most of these covered, but it’s key to stay on top of them. Speaking of wills, my in-laws still don’t have one and we’ve had numerous discussions with them to get one done. It just goes in one ear and out the other unfortunately.

    • I’m pretty sure my inlaws don’t have one either. I’ve also tried to ask about how they want their final arrangements to be carried out but it didn’t get far. I want everyone to know my wishes so they don’t end up putting me in an open casket for all the world to see. I think that would be mortifying, but what my family would do if I didn’t say otherwise.

  3. Working in the funeral industry gave us a unique perspective on how we want to live our lives and things we should take care of. I can honestly say that there is nothing I should have done or still should do. I try to take care of the important stuff as it comes along, but also live in the moment.

    • I think that’s a great balance. Plan for tomorrow, but not so much that you can’t enjoy today. I imagine seeing death day in and day out would certainly change your perspective.

  4. I’m so sorry to hear about your cousin. 30 and having a heart attack is crazy. Where Im at in age, I’m starting to hear more and more about things like this and other things that are in large part preventable. My biggest hurdle is tackling stress. Being a freelancer and only depending on my self has definitely aged me, but also having control over spending and being wise about decisions has made that stress so much less, plus other healthy habits. For me now it’s about focusing on some goals I have always wanted to achieve, and I’m working on that! Great post, but under sad circumstances.

    • think the last 3 or 4 years of running my practice aged me, and I’m so glad I don’t have to be in that pressure cooker anymore. I hope you have a less stressful work situation soon.

  5. I’m so sorry about your cousin. We really need to look into life insurance. It is something we have been putting off but since we want to have children within the next few years, it’s a good thing to look at sooner rather than later.

    • It would be super cheap to get it now. I know you guys are doing really well, but it’s still good to have backup plans in case something happens.

  6. Sorry to hear that Kim. I turn 31 today and I have to get a physical. Luckily I have it scheduled for December, but I need to think about it. I also need to get all of my estate planning together.

    • Happy Birthday. 31 is so young! I still get really upset thinking about someone else raising my daughter, but I’m glad we have plans if it ever came to that. Let’s hope we both live to be really old and get to do all the things we have on our goal lists.

  7. I’m sorry for your loss. We’ve had some family and friends who have unfortunately experienced an earlier than expected death, and it definitely hits hard. Be it health problems or a car accident, life can end in the blink of an eye. But like you said, we have to do the things it takes that can at least soften the blow, such as life insurance, health insurance and a will.

    • I think when a tragedy happens, we tend to think about things we need to do, but often don’t get around to doing them. If you just take the time to get it done, it’s usually not as bad as expected.

  8. I’m very sorry to hear about your cousin. 30 is way, way too soon. I think I was around 30 when I started realizing that I need to stop putting things off and start actually making things happen NOW. Since then its changed my whole outlook on life and the way I do things in my day-to-day.

    • Having a child was what really kicked us into gear. I do look at just about every choice and think about how it will affect my family and the future. I certainly didn’t do that a decade ago.

  9. Kim, I’m very sorry for your loss. My deepest condolences to you and your family. Losing a family member is never easy and I think it hits a bit harder when they are so young. I know some people dismiss life insurance, but I have witnessed too many times the difference it has made in a family’s life. And the strain a lack of life insurance can cause too. A will is an absolute must, especially if you have children. And unless your finances or life is very complicated, they can be done very affordably too. It’s small price to pay for peace of mind. Getting regular check-ups is important too. What we see on the outside isn’t always what is going on in the inside.

    • I would never think a 30 year old could have a heart attack, but it happens. I’m not sure you can ever be prepared, but at least having the a will and life insurance makes sure your loved ones will be taken care of.

  10. I am SO sorry to hear about your cousin Kim! I experienced something similar with losing a friend of mine earlier this year, and he definitely passed too soon. It is awful to lose someone, especially so young; however, you are right, it’s a great reminder that we have to always be prepared. I would rather see my clients over prepared and live long happy lives than find themselves in a bad way because they didn’t think ahead.

    • I guess if you’re gone, it’s over for you, but it sucks when people you’ve left behind have to suffer because you didn’t suck it up and get your house in order.

  11. So sorry to hear about your loss. I appreciate you writing this post in response to the tragedy,because people only seem to think of these things when something has recently happened to them or someone they know, but we need reminders constantly about how fragile life is. I think life insurance can’t be overstated.

    • This one really threw me for a loop. It’s easy to brush off when you hear about someone else dying young, but when it’s someone in your family or a friend, it does make you think about life and mortality, which isn’t always a bad thing.

  12. I am very sorry for your loss Kim. I did a will when I was 30 and my family laughed.
    But I take the plane often and live in a place where people can get guns easily so expect the best and prepare for the worse right?
    I hope my mother has a will telling us exactly where everything should go, I have seen too many siblings fight ugly over inheritance money.

    • I always hope for the best and hope I live to be 90 years old, but if not, I don’t want anything left to chance. I think my Mom has all their stuff planned out, but my inlaws will be a different story. We’ll see.

  13. I am so sorry for your loss. It doesn’t really matter if they were close or distant – sometimes it kinda makes you think about your own life. I am in my 30’s and there are times (a lot of times) when I feel like I am not doing my full potential on things. Like right now, I am starting and trying to pay off debt and I feel so limited on what I can and cant do. But you are right, I also would not want to leave my family in a “financial ruin” if that comes.

    • Paying off the debt will give you so many more opportunities, even if the short term seems like you’re on a leash. Getting rid of debt really was what boosted our net worth and allowed us to start living up to potential, so hang in there.

  14. We had our will and trust done this year and it is such a relief. We talked about it for years. Finally we set a deadline and said no more vacations until we get this done. It is such a relief to take it off the list. Something you really don’t want to do, but have to do. Sorry for the loss.

    • It seemed like a big ordeal, but really wasn’t so bad once you get over the thought process involved. We may update a few things as time goes on, but we can at least go off the original template.

  15. The thing I have been putting off is to be a writer of health magazine. This is my dream and I want to have fulfilled this dream before I am 30. Right now, I have skills and experience but I haven’t gotten the time and courage to apply for a publishing company. Maybe soon!

  16. So sorry to hear about your cousin. These kinds of situations definitely make you think twice and reflect on our own lives. Unfortuneately, I am unable to obtain life insurance because of the fact I had melanoma in my twenties. For that reason, we have gotten life insurance for our kids so they wouldn’t ever be in the same boat.

  17. This is a great post Kim. I don’t have a will yet, but I’m working on that. I also should schedule a full physical because I haven’t gotten one done in a while. I’ve had blood work – which found high cholesterol – but I haven’t had a full physical so the doctor can check everything. Prevention is cheaper than treatment.

  18. I’m so sorry to hear about your cousin. What an awful thing to loose someone so young and unexpectedly. Much of what you’ve said really resonates with me. The unpredictability of life is a major factor in our plan to retire early. We don’t want to spend our best years trapped in an office. And, I’m with you on the health preventative measures–I’m a huge proponent of living healthy and visiting a doctor regularly. Thank you for sharing this.

    • i would hate to be trapped in a job I disliked for 30+ years then be too frail or old to do the things I still want to do. We obviously weren’t done at 33, but we plan to be done with day jobs long before traditional retirement age. I actually like my job. I just want to do it on my terms.

  19. I’m very sorry for your loss. When someone young dies, it really forces you to put life your life in perspective.

    The one thing we know we need to do, but haven’t yet, is get a will. I just can’t decide who would be best to raise our daughter if we were gone. I know any decision is better than none, but we haven’t been able to pull the trigger.

  20. I will be thirty in a few years . I spend a lot of time not thinking . Checking your health is great Idea! Its always good to have a head start on things before they could get worse

  21. The mantra of the younger generation is YOLO but you make some excellent points – such as getting a will and life insurance earlier rather than later.

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