0 to 100k in 47 months by Megan
For simplicity’s sake, I consider January 2013 the starting point of our journey. I was 6 months out of college, working full time for $10/hr. My fiancé was finishing up his last semester. I wish the compulsive record keeper in me had kicked in by this point, but unfortunately we’ll have to rely on my memory and not the complex excel sheets I now reference for our net worth history. Let’s consider this our null net worth point. $0
I went to college on nearly a full-ride academic scholarship. The measly loan I took out for living expenses I had already paid back come 2013. I think I even had a little cash in the bank at the time and had just started keeping a detailed budget. By mid 2013, my fiancé and I were married, throwing a new student loan and engineer’s salary into the mix. Also, an understated, courthouse wedding helped us from accruing more debt.
We rented a 2 bedroom apartment for $600/month and brought in around $4K. My earnings made up a small portion of that number (thanks to my new dog grooming job that couldn’t care less about a Zoology degree). Kudos to my husband for sensibly choosing Electrical Engineering. Thankfully, my senses kicked in enough to know that we should be contributing to our employee sponsored retirement plans (AKA the 401k). I believe I was contributing 3% and my husband 6%, just enough to get that employer match. I knew that saving for retirement was important, but at 22 years old, it didn’t seem THAT important to contribute more. Oh, hindsight.
The next few years brought us a truck loan ($9k), a home purchase ($63k)…then sale, and another home purchase ($126k). We kept up those same 401k contributions started in 2013 and were socking away a little bit of cash in the bank each month. I wish the story were more exciting. We automated 401k contributions and lived within a budget, making sure enough was left over each month to build a good sized emergency fund. Putting 20% down on our home purchase also helped have a bit of equity to add to the equation. We simply let time run its course and 47 months from net worth $0 we hit $100k in November 2016! That breakdown looked like $30k in the bank, $43k in retirement, and $27k in home equity. $100k
The biggest contributing factors to our net worth success have been:
- Automating retirement contributions from Day 1
- Marrying money conscious spouses
- Choosing an in-demand career with great ROI (my husband at least)
- Creating a zero-based budget with SAVINGS as an allocation
- Prioritizing home ownership and investing over vacations/luxury purchases
SINCE November of 2016 we have grown our net worth by more than 4x that first $100k (it’s true that wealth accumulation happens faster over time). We still follow a budget, automate savings, and live below our means. BUT we have also prioritized investing over saving cash or paying down our mortgage. We are now on track to invest over $50k just in 2021 alone! That’s also just on one income as I’m now a stay at home mom.
My advice for those looking to hit that first $100k is start TODAY. Make a budget and automate savings/investments. It goes slow at first but you will not be disappointed you started. Also, purchase well-thought investments. You can save cash all day long but it’s investing (whether that be in the stock market, real estate, etc) that gives your money the potential to grow at a faster rate, compounding over time. Those returns are something that cash in the bank simply won’t yield. And lastly, look to those who have already done it. There is an amazing community out there of financially minded individuals. While they can provide tips to getting there, the inspiration from their example is perhaps more valuable. It IS possible, and people are doing it all the time.
Keep at it, and soon it’ll be your time.