The Best Financial Advice for Women in Their 30s

Barron's - December 9, 2020


Your 30s: Time to Purchase Property

It may seem like a huge leap, but it will set you up well for the rest of your life.

Carla Harris, Vice Chairman, Global Wealth Management, Morgan Stanley

When I was 28, my mother made the suggestion that I buy some land that members of the older generation in my family were selling. They were in their 70s and were tired of paying taxes on it. “What would I do with it?” I thought. There’s not a house on it, nothing else on it. And it would have taken just about all I had been able to save at that point. I was working at Morgan Stanley, and I couldn’t imagine wiping out my bank account to buy something that was utterly illiquid, not seeing it as something that would appreciate.

The property changed hands a couple of times and eventually sold at multiples of what I would have paid. That was a big ah-ha moment for me. It led me to understand that to build wealth, I had to take money out of the bank account and invest it. For young people, property is a good way to start. That’s one of the reasons they are often advised early on to buy a house or an apartment. It’s one way they can begin acquiring wealth.

My advice to people in their 30s is to start thinking about investments seriously. If you can’t buy a house or an apartment where you live, buy land anywhere.

The property my mother recommended and I should have bought was in Florida and I was in New York City. Even though she didn’t know a whole lot about wealth or investing, my mother was smart enough to know that land was a foundation for wealth building. —As told to Nancy F. Smith

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