In Budgeting, Canada, Investing, Money, Wealth, Women

How I became a millionaire at 36 – my wealth journey while working 50% of the time

Just recently I was talking to some people on Instagram and they asked me why I did municipal value as my home assessment instead of market value.

I suppose that it is because I don’t see it as a fixed amount, written on a paper or in a balance and seems so subjective, so I never wanted to use it.

But they convinced me, because municipal values can have caps on them, but also.. it isn’t fair to imagine that you bought it at a certain book value and now you can’t claim that extra increase in value as part of your portfolio? So if you bought something at $100K and it shot up to $500K, you should be able to record that fairly whether it be a home or a stock portfolio.

That makes sense.

All of this time, I thought I didn’t want to ‘pad my net worth’, but then I realized that I was the only one putting municipal value as the value of my home in my net worth. Everyone else was doing market value, adjusting for the recession and so on.

Well I felt like a dummy.

So I contacted a realtor in my area who focuses exclusively on my neighbourhood, and grilled her for the past 3 years of market prices because I want an ACCURATE view of net worth, and a weird huge jump from one month to the next would screw up everything for me in terms of tracking.

It was all good news.

She told me I bought at a very good time (right in a valley not a peak) of the housing prices, and almost immediately after, my home went up in value.

She then gave me some historical data from previous sales of homes comparable to mine, and long story short, I have been a millionaire since December 2019.

That means I hit my ORIGINAL goal of Millionaire by 36  ….and now I can focus on next goal of trying to get my invested assets to be $1M.

As for being a personal millionaire? It was sort of anti-climatic for me to be honest, as the milestone passed 5 months ago, but better late than never. What a relief, and an exciting thing to know. It hasn’t sunk in yet.

The wealth journey for the start to my first million in net worth:

Summary of Age & Milestones Hit

  • Age 25: $0
  • Age 27: $100K
  • Age 29: $200K
  • Age 32: $300K, $400K, $500K
  • Age 34: $600K
  • Age 35: $700K, $800K
  • Age 36: $900K, $1M

I’ve only worked 50% of the time

I have to redo the numbers, but I think I am at 50% of my career, meaning half of the years you see up there? I did not work. I am counting even in 2019, when I quit my contract in May, took the summer off and didn’t work again until late autumn. All of that time in between? Zero income from my day job.

My main jumps were at age 32 and 35-26

Going up $200K at 32 really helped my net worth, but then I plateaued in net worth because I stopped working and didn’t find another contract until I was 34 or so as I also took time off to be pregnant with Little Bun & then give birth.

My other major jumps are from age 35-36 when I worked full-time, and then I stopped working for most of 2019, and then started back up again, only to have COVID-19 hit and my contract end abruptly.

11 years to become a millionaire working 50% of the time

It took me 11 years to become a millionaire, even working 50% of the time, and starting off at $60K in debt.

The real key to all of this I suspect is 3 things:

  • I quickly taught myself financial literacy and made mistakes early which helped me become better
  • I started investing early (started at 23 even though I was in debt)
  • I made a very high income but didn’t spend it all (you can see at 32 I went up 3 milestones because I banked $250K that year)

So if I had been smarter about my money earlier, I likely would have been a millionaire by 30 or earlier. *shrug*

To go from -$60K in debt to $0 (1.6 years)

This took me a solid 1.6 years to clear. It was a lot of learning and teaching myself along the way, and nearer to the end of my journey, I realized that I could save a lot more money than I thought possible.

I started to really focus in on the last year of my debt, and it did seem a little anti-climatic when I ended up getting that contract and clearing the last of my $20K of debt in one cheque.


I am now drawing on the same discipline and reserves I had back then, to apply to today, because I have some exciting goals to meet (now that $1M net worth is checked off!)

To go from $o – $100K (2.2 years)

That first $100K is indeed, as everyone says, difficult to obtain. It was also right at the time when the recession was happening, and I went those entire 2.2 years without a single contract, selling off my plummeting investments just to cover my half of the bills.


I lost a lot of money. I only had maybe a few months saved in cash.

It is when I decided to start multiple side incomes so I would never have to rely 100% on a contract, but also, as a buffer for my expenses.

My secret goal back then, was to live off my side incomes 100% and have my day job be fully put as a bonus into investing.

Guess what? Hit that goal last year. My side incomes now cover my expenses and my day job is a nice, big, fat bonus to my portfolio.

I have a post coming up specifically on this because it took me so long.

Age 32: $300K – $500K jump

I banked $250K net that year. I worked like crazy with overtime, and the market was also working in my favour. In one year, I jumped up to half a million and that was a pretty cool milestone for me, seeing as at age 30 when I was pregnant with a child, I thought it would never happen for me!

To go from $600K – $900K

Working on and off. Market was dropping hard in between even though I was banking money. I wasn’t very frugal like I was nearer to the end, because I was spending a lot of money enjoying myself.

I also bought a luxury car in cash which then slowly depreciated over the years, so there’s a loss in that too (no regrets, money comes and goes!)

The last $100K

The final push near $900K – $1M, I really tried my best to bank as much as possible in a short amount of time because I suddenly decided I want to become a millionaire at 36.

In retrospect, when I (thought I) missed the goal I was disappointed, but then to hit it and realize that end of December 2019, I actually made it had I been putting market value on my home the whole time, feels GREAT.

I’m excited, but I think my real excitement will happen when I see these next goals happen.


1. $1M in invested liquid assets

I currently only have $483K and I’d like to hit $500K by the end of this year, and then $1M.

Maybe in 10 years? Who knows, it depends on contracts too. I am not too concerned about this.

I think I’d really feel like a ‘millionaire’ if I had this in my bank and brokerage accounts, cold hard numbers. 🙂

2. $50K in annual dividend income

I am currently at $14K give or take.

I will likely be at $15K by the end of the year. This almost 100% pays for my living expenses, but I am reinvesting all of it back into buying more stocks rather than living off it.

I am currently living off my side incomes, which pretty much cover my bare bones expenses ($1200/month – $1500/month).

For this $50K in dividend income goal, I need an invested $1M in dividend-paying stocks to reach this goal.

As my strategy is 50% index funds and 50% dividend stocks, I actually need closer to $2M invested to make this happen…. So I am about $1.5M off!

This is my lifelong goal, to make this much money on the side passively  so that I don’t even need to have my side incomes either. They, and my job could be bonus additions to my portfolio.

I need to be given (realistic) hard numbers/goals to reach

$1M was too far off in my head, so realistically speaking, I did not really focus on that because it didn’t seem plausible.

Only once I got closer to the goal at $900K did I get motivated to really reach that milestone, otherwise I’d have slacked off.

I like to keep these lofty goals at the back of my mind that have concrete numbers (e.g. $15K annual dividend income, then $20K, then $30K) because otherwise I find I fritter away money with no real direction.

That has sort of been my feeling these past few years – being unmoored financially because it all seemed like there was no purpose until now.

Setting actual amounts, and income goals that I can calculate and see happen, motivates me to make it happen, but they need to be realistic or else I won’t do them.

Going from $15K to $50K in dividend income is a goal, but it isn’t realistic in my head, so I slack off.

Saying instead, that I am going from $12K to $15K as a goal for 2020, is realistic and doable, so I DON’T slack off and I do what it takes to make it happen.

That’s my motivation.

What’s yours? Do you have a trick you use?

Share Tweet Pin It +1

Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

Am my own Sugar Daddy. Am a millionaire at 36 after getting out of $60K of student debt in 18 months, a little over a decade earlier, using I have worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K with an average lifetime savings rate of 50%. I have 11 side incomes that are on track in 2020 to make me $50K - $75K. I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I am all about balance - between time and money, and also enjoying my money. I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

You may also like

About going from middle-class to upper-class

Posted on February 20, 2018

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t

Posted on October 31, 2016

Your children are not investments

Posted on February 3, 2013

Previous PostMy Dividend Portfolio Update: $14,378.49 in Passive Income
Next PostHow I quadrupled my income at the age of 25 (2 years out of school)


  1. Owning a Piece of History: Vintage 1983 – 1984 (?) Chanel Single Flap Purse from when Karl Lagerfeld started | | Save. Spend. Splurge.

    […] so much of my balance) on something, but this can commemorate the fact that I just realized I am actually a millionaire by 36 from my December 2019 net worth re-adjustments, and this particular bag is very special because it […]

  2. Financial Orchid

    I wrote a very similar article with similar breakdowns n projections for my long term money goal.

    My savings amount n top line amount is much lower but more constant.

  3. Financial Orchid

    Hey we have similar quantitative long term goals n about the same age! I’m more frugal tho but live in a much HCOL city so guess that balances out.

    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Yes, my city has a lower cost of living for sure. 🙂

  4. Susan

    Well done on reaching your overall NW goal! I knew it was a matter of time. It’s good to set yearly income goals. You’ve made an excellent choice to buy a primary residence in a high demand, high appreciating market. In the future, if you ever need the cash from the primary residence to invest in other cash-generating assets, you could do a cash out refi and get a mortgage on the paid off home.

    I like to use the price that I had originally purchased on the rental property because I like to keep a neutral attitude that I’m buying a cash-flowing rental property to keep forever. As a real estate investor, I’m not betting on any future appreciation. I don’t want to be the real estate investor who keeps checking Redfin for the estimated housing values every month because it seems like a waste of time. I don’t want to feel like I can have space to slack off if I ever find out that my properties increased 2x to 3x in a very short amount of time because of external economic factors outside my control or dumb luck.

    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      I do not have time to be checking monthly. I’ll just update every quarter or year because it’s just too much work to call her to ask!! LOL

  5. SP

    I don’t think it matters how you bookkeep it, because comparing net worth from person to person is also not really important. You know? We use the tax value rather than market, because I’ve seen such crazy market swings in my adult life that it seemed too optimistic. Plus, we don’t want to sell so it doesn’t really matter, and it is easier.

    STILL, congratulations! This is a great path, and you are doing ana amazing job!

  6. liteadventurer

    I think it won’t feel quite so anticlimactic when your liquid net worth hits 7 figures. It’s different when you include your primary dwelling since it’s where you live and you can’t sell it without having to replace it with some other suitable lodging, either by purchase or rent. In any case, congrats on the big milestone!

    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      That’s how I feel too – I think I am just “ho hum” about it because it doesn’t feel like my fixed assets are really saleable anyway. I wouldn’t actually sell my home or my car…

      Thank you!

  7. Sarah

    I always use the purchase price – realtor commission (6%). I have the tendency to move the goalposts once I hit goals, though.

    In general, I hate setting goals I can’t control- especially when net worth can swing a hundred thousand dollars lower due to global events (YUP, we lost $100K on paper!). My focus right now is on savings amount since it’s not subject to outside whims.

    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      I figured I might as well set myself on the equal playing field of others, and just update these amounts every quarter or half a year as I update my other assets…

      1. Sarah

        Totally agree, and very admirable to have reached it so young!! I totally forgot to say congratulations!


Leave a Reply