Today, I joined the two-comma net worth club. I realize I feel absolutely no different today than I did yesterday, and I don't think I will feel any different tomorrow, either.
The First $10k
It was a struggle to push for, and it took a substantial amount of work and focus. I started saving in my Roth IRA when I got my first job as a grocery store clerk and was legally allowed to. I tucked away everything I could, preparing for college and my future. I took on extra hours at work when I could, especially over the summer. I also tutored lower grade kids, and I tucked that cash away as well to help cover expenses. I hit $10k in my Roth IRA during the summer after graduating from high school, and it felt like a huge deal. Bonus: Savings in my IRA didn't count toward my expected college contribution.
Total time: 1 year (2008-2009), age 18
The First $100k
With scholarships to help offset college cost, I was able to cover my costs and continue saving diligently in my IRA thanks to part time hours at the grocery store, waitressing, tutoring, and assisting professors. Note that all these investments were going in when the market was low. The Subprime Mortgage Crisis of 2008 was fresh on everyone's mind, and there was nowhere to go but up.
Once I started working full time, I was able to save much faster. I was putting entire paychecks into my 401k, maxing out my Roth IRA, and tucking money aside for a house that I ended up purchasing with cash. I'm so grateful to my parents that I was able to continue living at home with them and saving my money diligently. It gave me a huge head start toward the first six figures. I managed to hit this in December 2013, over a year after I started working full time.
Total time: 5 years (2008-2013), age 22
The First $1M
I continued working on my house, making improvements with cash, and diligently saving at a high rate. Past Kristine was a real champ at that. She lived in a tent in her garage to help save on commuting the hour to her parents' house and construction costs, true to her "Adventurer" moniker. I owe her and my parents the entire start of the fabulousness that is my life. Also, the market was going up up up.
I sold out, moved down to Florida, house hacked my way through and continued saving diligently. When Michael and I married in 2018, we continued to save diligently and spend in alignment with our priorities. He covers 40% of the household costs, his income-based share, which helps us both continue to save at a higher rate. There are definitely days where I lament our savings, like when I think about my future Mustang. However, I haven't had to work nearly as hard to save now that the money is growing by itself, and bonus, our incomes keep going up. The Starbucks on my desk tells you I've definitely succumbed to lifestyle inflation.
The thing with money is the more you have, the more you invest, the more you make it work for you, the faster it will grow.
Total time: 12 years (2008-2020), age 29
My hope in sharing...
I aim to be transparent and straightforward. I didn't magically end up at this point. It was all conscious decisions and an effort to save diligently, paired with increasing income and a positive market.
I want to show that it takes time to build and fuel the train during accumulation. I also want to show that the time required continues to decrease the faster the train is moving.
You can do it, too. It won't be on my timeline, but it can happen if you're focused on your goals. Mind your gap, increase your income, decrease your expenses, and save. Just start.