A lot of people work their entire lives and never even have $10k in savings.
Not my wife and I. We recently got our net worth up over the $100k mark and are looking to hit $200k as quickly as possible! I don’t say that to brag – if we can do it, just about anyone can. We just made some smart moves with our money early on in life and have been fortunate to start our investing journey in a bull market.
We certainly haven’t been as optimal as we could have with our finances and if we had, there’s no telling what our net worth would be right now. Even now that I’ve been writing about money for the past year, I’m still working to learn new things to do to boost our income and grow even quicker.
We really aren’t even ahead of the curve when it comes to our age and net worth. I’ve read some awesome stories about people younger than us with even more money! These are some exciting times we live in when it comes to growing wealth and I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds.
While we may not be the first 25 year old hundred thousandaires out there, we have a unique story that might resonate with you. I just got my income up to $50k for the first time in my life a few weeks ago and now my wife is only bringing in a few hundred a month. Here’s how we got to where we’re at now.
My wife and I actually met working at Chic-fil-A and it was the first W2 job for both of us. We were 17 and I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do as a career. My wife quit after working there for about 8 months and I was fired a couple of months later. It wasn’t a very fun place to work.
I don’t think any of the money we made from Chic-fil-A contributed to our current net worth. We both lived with our parents for several years after working there and I’m sure we spent any money we saved from the job on random things. At least we developed a relationship that still lasts today.
Staying out of debt
I think this is where we fall into the weird category. We’ve never had any debt other than our mortgage and don’t plan to. We drive old cars and didn’t accumulate any student loans. I just went to a local community college and my wife didn’t go at all.
Living debt-free has been awesome. I think we’ve been able to avoid a lot of money stress by only buying what we could pay for in cash. We might not have fancy degrees or brand new cars, but we’re happy with what we have. Through a combination of practicing minimalism and gratitude, I’ve become content with the items I have. I’m actually happier when I get rid of something than when I make a new purchase.
Another thing we’ve done to stay out of debt is to keep an emergency fund. The first thing we did with our finances when we got married is set aside several thousand dollars and haven’t touched it for anything other than big expenses we weren’t expecting to make.
Keeping a budget
If you didn’t think we were weird for never having debt, I’m sure you’ll think we’re weird for budgeting. I understand that a lot of people feel like budgeting isn’t necessary but it has played a huge role in our net worth.
I’m a bit different when it comes to how I handle our budget. I’m not strict on the number we put down for each category. If we spend more money going out to eat than I anticipated, I just pull some from the savings category and increase the budget for eating out. I really just budget so I can see how we’re using our money and make decisions to optimize.
I don’t know the exact number, but we paid less than $10,000 for our wedding and still had an awesome one in my opinion. My wife was able to get her dream dress for $600 and I got a cheap suit from JC Penny. We had the ceremony at a local church for free and the reception outside at a relative’s barn.
Really, all we paid for was all the decorations, food and a little bit for the reception venue. I don’t think we could’ve been any happier with the way it turned out. I don’t understand why people think they have to spend $50k on a wedding. I’d rather travel the world for a year with $50k than spend it on one day.
A few months after my wife quit Chic-fil-A, she got a job helping build sets in the movie industry. She started making about $18 an hour with 20 hours of overtime every week. Over the next 5 years, her pay increased to about $27 an hour. About a year after we got married, we decided the 60-hour workweek on top of an hour and a half commute was too much. She quit and has been helping at her uncle’s private school for the past couple of years.
After I got fired from Chic-fil-A, I slowly worked my way up to my current position. First, I got a job at Kroger. After that, I worked at a Quick Trip gas station. About a year after that, I got my first office job at a playground company and started going to community college for IT.
I fell into a CAD designer position with the playground company and gained enough experience to get a better paying job at a truss manufacturing plant. After a painfully boring year and a half of that, I finally got my first and current position in IT. I started this job making $42,000 a year and by working hard and asking for a raise, I’m now making $50,000.
I think I started my first Roth IRA when I was 22. When we got married at age 23, I only had about $1,000 saved up for retirement and my wife had maybe $5,000 in her work plan. She kept most of her money in cash which is how we paid for our wedding, our honeymoon and most of the furniture in our house.
We haven’t been as aggressive as we should’ve, but I just started learning how to invest a little over a year ago. Since I learned that simple investing is smart investing, I’ve been trying to invest as much as we possibly can. We’re currently investing about $1,000 a month at a minimum.
We’ve currently got about $39,000 in our retirement accounts and the rising market has helped out a lot with that.
Buying a house we could afford
Even though we were making over $100k when we got married, we bought a 1200 square foot house for $95k. It’s more than enough house for the two of us (and our cat) and we like the neighborhood. Our mortgage is only $660 a month!
I’m sure we’ll buy a bigger, more expensive house in a few years but it won’t be something we can’t afford the payments on. I’m thinking we’ll probably keep this house and rent it out when we move. I’d like to slowly start investing in real estate and that would be the perfect way to test it out.
My wife and I weren’t really doing anything on the side to make money up until a year ago. I started selling on eBay and have made about $7,000 extra from that. I’ve also made about $1,000 selling items at an antique store.
This is what I’ve been focusing more on lately and I plan to really start making serious money on the side of my day job.
To sum everything up, we stayed out of debt, increased our incomes, lived as frugally as we were comfortable with and invested our savings. The combination of all these things is how we eventually got our net worth $100k. We’re only 10% of the way to my goal of a million-dollar net worth but at least we’re headed in the right direction!
Previously published here and reprinted with the author’s permission.
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