Save. Spend. Splurge.

How I plan on saving a million dollars by the time I retire


  • I am currently 31 years old.
  • I have about $294,000 saved as my net worth.
  • I earn anywhere from $15,000 – $25,000 (average) gross a month when I work on a contract.
  • In the past 8 years of working, my gross income has averaged out to be about $67,000 a year.
  • I haven’t worked 100% of the time; in fact I think I have worked about 40% of my career so far.


I actually just gave up a $250,000 contract to be in the same city as my family.

Update: but then I got another one, so things worked out!

After company taxes and about $2240 in expenses (including daycare, and these are just MY half of the expenses, not our household expenses), I estimated that I would have netted about $165,000 in savings in a year.

This is not unusual or farfetched, because in one of the years I worked, I banked $130,000 (net) after taxes, and I didn’t even work the full year (I worked about 9 months).

…but that is neither here nor there, and yes I am looking for a local contract now.


  • To save at least a million dollars by the time I retire.


  • I earn and can save about $50,000 net a year on average.
  • My money will grow at a modest 5% rate.
  • I have 34 years to save (age of 65 to retire).

When I plug all that into a my budgeting tool‘s Assets calculator, I get this amount:

$4.4 million

I think I’ll be all right if I can save $50,000 net a year on average.


Now, if I can’t, and worst case scenario is I only save let’s say $20,000 a year (net) on average, it gives me this amount:

$1.78 million

With 3 children (my ideal), let’s assume it takes $250,000 to raise each child (I think this is rather high because it probably includes paying for their education as well), then my number drops down to:

$1.78 million – $750,000 = $1.08 million

I JUST squeak by saving a million by the time I retire.

Of course, these numbers are conceptual because I don’t save $20,000 or $50,000 regularly and consistently each year. I save it in a big chunk, like $130,000 one year, nothing the next year.

Then maybe another $60,000 then nothing the next year.

So… that’s how I plan on saving a million by the time I retire.

I do think I will end up with more than a million, and I may even end up retiring early at 55, or doing a semi-retirement thing.

It all depends on my contracts and what I can get.


  • sylvie

    I love your posts, but for a 33 year-old just finishing up a humanities Ph.D. with no job prospects, they also give me heart palpitations. I feel so dreadfully behind in employment and savings, and envy your quants/business background. Still tempted to go to law school for earning potential, but the voice inside says, “The answer to too much school is not more school!”

    • save. spend. splurge.

      I would do the math between trying to find a job with your current education (20K?) versus going back to school to do law and what you could earn afterwards, factoring in all the debt you have to clear and lost income for more schooling years. You may end up ahead or behind and may be better off just working right away.

  • nicoleandmaggie

    We hit a million net worth sometime this year (without even noticing, really, it was only when I was trying to figure out what rent we can afford when I take next year off that I tallied it up). I don’t think it’s anywhere near enough for us. Even 2 million (one for each of us) wouldn’t let us retire and live the lifestyle we’d want to live. Over break we joked that we could buy a house down the street from DH’s parents and homestead… but we really don’t want to.

    • save. spend. splurge.


      Well a million doesn’t get you very far in some areas. We have a plan for a million each, but I was also counting on having a house completely paid for… so it’s more a million and a half to be honest, if we’re looking at net worth.

  • tomatoketchup

    Is the one million taking into account inflation?

  • Kassandra

    Definitely not worried about you. 🙂 I also like the ability to relax in between work contracts so continue to do what works for you. So you want three kids eh? When are you planning on having Baby Bun #2?

  • Taylor Lee

    Are you looking to have $1M “in the bank” or in overall net worth?

    My goal is to hit $1M net worth by 30 if I can, 35 at the latest (right now sitting at $150K). I definitely couldn’t handle the variability of freelancing, though those rates seem pretty awesome.

  • Anne @ Money Propeller

    Sounds like a solid plan. My half of our savings goal is 40k for the year. A million in savings is still a few years off, but it’s on the horizon.
    The sooner you can knock that out, the more it can grow for you… Here’s hoping for good contracts!

  • Petrish @ Debt Free Martini

    I wish you the best of luck with your goal. I do have dreams of having one million in the bank but too afraid to make that a public goal. I like your strategy and it is very possible for you to complete with your mindset and drive. I look forward to following your journey.

  • SarahN

    I’m 30 this month, have $310k net worth including my ‘superannuation’ which is our retirement savings, and including the conservative $10k growth on my $465k property, which I do have a mortgage over. So I have debt in that equation.

    Oh and the role I’m going for (I’m acting in it now) is $155k AUD + allowances.

    I’m not sure I’d like the variability on contract work, and the earning/not earning phases.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      But your debt is good debt!

      $310K is a respectable, impressive number. That’s not just you though right? That’s you and your boyfriend?

      WHat does “allowances” mean? $155K is a very good salary. I tend to make around $230K – $250K a year or so when I work but I also don’t work all the time. I’m just lucky if I get contracts that are longer than 3 months or even 6 months but I kind of like NOT working all the time, which is the reason why I don’t really mind not saving / making as much.

      I like that variability on contract work because of the free time but that just means I have to save for lean periods and try not to go overboard when I am in a fat phase (like now).

      • SarahN

        @save. spend. splurge.: No, no, that net worth is 100% mine. The BF has at least $100k in cash, perhaps some in shares, or maybe his shares are additional, I’m not sure. We just pool money for rent and food, and that’s not counted in that net worth figure as it’s so negligible and variable.

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