10 Things Everyone Should Have by 30

woman in denim smiling
Photo: Getty
Whether you’re a starving poet or a driven I-banker, there are a few key milestones (and, yes, things) that you really should have. Welcome to adulthood.
  1. A piece of art

    Photo by Antonis Achilleos

    A few rules: It can’t be from Ikea, it can’t be an unframed poster and it can’t be a reprint of a clichéd classic (like that poster of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” you had in your dorm room).

  2. Furniture that doesn’t come in a box

    Photo by Ellen Silverman

    It’s hard to feel like a grown-up when your mattress is still on the floor. In our twenties we graduated to steel frames, but by 30, it’s time to think about headboards, proper arm-chairs and a couch without burrito stains.

  3. Emergency 12-month savings fund

    Photo by iStock

    Not to sound alarmist, but very few jobs are “safe.”  And by the time you hit 30 you’ll begin scrambling to hit other random expenses—family bills, flood damage, or the (maybe) the bottomless financial pit known as children.

  4. Set of tools

    Photo by Levi Brown

    Drill, screwdriver, hammer, wrench—the basics. You should also know how to use them. Once you’re 30 it’s unacceptable to ask your father to help you hang a towel rack.

  5. A tailor

    Photo by Shutterstock

    No need to go to someone who is expensive—mine only charges $5. But a $2,000 suit can look schlocky with the wrong fit, and a perfect, crisp fit can make a $100 bargain look like Armani.

  6. Home library

    Photo by Shutterstock

    No one expects you to have an entire room full of books like the arch-villain of a superhero film, but by now you should have more than your college textbooks. Even if you prefer the Kindle, some books simply demand to be owned and treasured.  (But maybe not, say, 50 Shades of Grey.)

  7. Business cards

    Photo by Shutterstock

    And an overall professional identity. If the cards are for a 9-5 job, great, but they’re even more important for the freelancers and the self-employed. Splurge for a professional design and avoid the Alta-Vista cheapies.

  8. A financial plan

    Photo by iStock

    The plan, ideally, should be a longer-range horizon than “pay rent next month.” No matter how much or little you make, start setting some realistic (but aspirational) financial goals for the next 10, 20 and even 50 years.

  9. Lifelong friends

    Photo by Thinkstock

    They’ll be with you until you die—the kind of friends that will make time for you, lie for you and bail you out of jail no matter the crime. (And if that’s the case, something you should also have by 30: a good lawyer.)

  10. Material self-confidence

    Photo by Veer

    We should all have the self-confidence that we don’t NEED to buy nice things... but we don’t feel guilty when we do. It’s a fine line. If we conflated self-worth with physical possessions, then we run the risk of living like someone out of Stepford Wives. (That’s why this list is not full of watches or cars.) But it’s also possible to go too far to the other extreme, thinking that we’re somehow a sell-out if we buy a Tag Heuer. More than anything else, by 30 you should acquire a mindset that you’re not defined by material possessions...but you’re not embarrassed to have them, either.