In Budgeting, Debt, For Beginners, Money

How I reached my first $100K milestone and how I saved my first $100K by age 25

Someone asked for specific numbers of the time when I was starting out, and to be honest with you, I didn’t track any of the first few years very well because I was just learning. I had no clue what a budget was, expenses, etc.

I also had an issue at one point with hard drive backups, and lost all my previous years’ budgets which made me very VERY sad. I have nothing from that time, everything got corrupted, which is why I am a freak about data backup now and I have two hard drives that back up at the same time.

Ahem. So … let’s see.

So this is what I started out with, before I really took control of my money and started crushing my debt.

Here is the sexy headline:

I reached that $100K milestone when I was 27, but it is worth mentioning I started out at 23 with $60K in debt, and by 25 I had almost an $88K net worth, which means I saved more than $100K by the time I was 25.

If I include my $60K of debt (a big chunk), that means my net worth, had I started at $0 at 23 with no debt, would have been $154K by the time I was 25.

Alas, the recession hit, and I was in debt so ….. here goes!


I lost all of my info, so this is based off old loan payment papers and trying to remember what I paid for things back then. I remember a few specifics but not everything obviously.

Starting Net Income = $4166/month ($65K gross)

I had an income of $4166 a month when I was in the middle of clearing my debt.

2006 to 2007 first half = Original Budget was $3560.20/month

  • Rent = $2100
  • Groceries = $250
  • Transportation: $71.20
  • Internet = $14
  • Medical = $100
  • Household = $300
  • Eating out = $100
  • Toiletries = $50
  • Office = $50
  • Miscellaneous = $25
  • Shopping = $500
  • Investing = $166.64
  • Minimum Loans = $439.16

Downside: I shopped like crazy…

I didn’t understand how to clear debt. I was still shopping and buying clothes, and things I didn’t really need at that time for work, and just to feel better about my life, to the tune of $500/month.

BUT!… it wasn’t so bad!!

I didn’t have a cellphone or cable TV

I only just got one in 2017. This is how I went 33 years without a cellphone.

I also had no cable TV because I just used the internet to watch videos, etc.

It was a simpler time back then.

I didn’t subscribe to anything or go to the gym

No memberships, no subscriptions to any kind of music or any streaming services, yoga, nothing.

I didn’t take expensive internet plans

I think I was using dial-up. I went as cheap as I could.

I never went on a single vacation

All I did was work. My ‘vacations’ were going to another city to hang out.

My interest rates were 5.5% and 7%

$10K at 5.5%, and $50K at 7% which was $4050 in interest a year give or take.

I started to cut out expenses in 2007

It wasn’t until my apartment was gone, and I started really getting the hang of this budgeting thing, that I went whole hog on the budget.

My medical bills were $100 because I was going for massages, so I cut that all out, and just did basic dentist bills. No more massages for instance.

I got rid of my apartment and started living in hotels

Around June, I got out of my apartment that was crushing $2100 out of my budget each month, sold everything I had, got rid of all of my furniture (what a stupid mistake to buy any in the first place without knowing the plan for the year), and then was left with a suitcase of stuff at the end.

I started to live in hotels where I was working on projects, and didn’t travel back home any more on weekends like the other consultants. It was boring, but it saved me a fkton of money and it was also cheaper for the client versus paying for flight tickets back.

I took a long-term hotel stay (30-days is cheaper than paying by the day), and stayed there full-time without any friends or family.

I cut out all housing and food costs.

Last half of 2007 = My budget now was $200/month

  • Rent = $2100
  • Groceries = $250
  • Transportation: $71.20
  • Internet = $14
  • Medical = $25
  • Household = $300
  • Eating out = $100
  • Toiletries = $50
  • Shopping = $500
  • Office = $50
  • Shopping = $100
  • Miscellaneous = $25
  • Investing = $166.64
  • Other = $1000*
  • Minimum Loans = $439.16
  • Extra Loan Payments = $2310.20

*Extra money spent that I cannot account for.

I was socking 65.9% of my pay towards my debt

You can see that I still had some money for things like medical bills, office expenses, and toiletries. I was no longer shopping or buying anything, and it was pretty miserable.

I was putting large chunks of money into my debt now. I just threw it all in and any extra income I would get, I would put it into my debt immediately.

Unfortunately, I did not do this ‘modern nomad’ thing for a long time

In between contracts, I stayed in a trailer for cheap ($5/day, outhouse bathroom), and then would go back on another project and live in a hotel again.

This lasted for only 7 months but it helped my debt repayment a lot.

I was placed on a ‘local’ project and it all ended

The last project I had as an employee, totally effed up the budget, and I had to start living locally again but this time, without a project paying my way.

I moved back into my parents’ and started paying rent.

I also got rid of the loser dragging me down

This whole time? I was supporting a loser 100% who didn’t bring any money in or pay for anything but sit at home and play video games.

He had it good for 2 years before I came to my senses. I got rid of that deadweight.

I would also like to note that I AM CERTAIN I also spent money that I did not mean to spend because I remember times when he would go on shopping sprees and come home with a whole new set of clothes ($500), and restocked our ‘bar’ with liquor (another $1000), plus aquariums which is a very expensive habit, to the tune of about $2000 – $5000.

I don’t have these expenses listed because .. again, no budget. But I know I spent more money than what seemed to be in debt repayments because of it.

2008 New Net Income = $4294.87/month ($67K Gross)

I also got a $2000 salary increase for the bonus which meant….

2008 = Budget was now $1496.20/month

  • Rent = $1000
  • Groceries = $250
  • Transportation: $171.20
  • Internet = $25
  • Medical = $25
  • Household = $300
  • Eating out = $100
  • Toiletries = $50
  • Shopping = $500
  • Office = $50
  • Miscellaneous = $25
  • Investing = $166.64
  • Minimum Loans = $439.16
  • Extra Loan Payments = $1964

Should have stayed with my parents at the start

I should have done this from the start and not gotten an apartment because it was much cheaper to pay my parents rent for one bedroom in their home, than a full 3-bedroom apartment I didn’t need living with a loser who didn’t pay his half.

Oh well.

I was still putting a lot towards debt

I was still putting a lot of money into my debt, and I would have gotten out of it sooner than I had expected. I was really on a roll. I just wanted that debt GONE.

End of 2008 I rage quit, and quadrupled my income

The last $20K was paid off with one cheque from my contract. I made $90K in 3 months.

I would have cleared it in a year but this was an opportunity that really helped me clear my debt quickly and push my net worth up.

That means from 2006 to 2008, I cleared $40K in student loans, including the extra interest that would get charged.

With that contract, I went to $0 in net worth (MAJOR MILESTONE) and it brought me up to about $88K in net worth (don’t forget, I was also investing during that time as well), and that’s about it.

I got the contract via my network. I had kept a network of colleagues and people over the 2 years I was working, and when they heard I quit, they immediately put me forward to the brokers and contracts they had heard of.

It pays to stay in touch and be nice.

It took me 2 years to find another contract, at the end of 2010, and then I hit $100K shortly after at the age of 27 because my contract was for $115/hour or $230K a year and made $40K which put me over to the $100K milestone.

I ended the year with $177K in my net worth because I got another contract 2 months later and worked until the end of the year.

And that’s how I did it!

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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

Millionaire at 36 after getting out of $60K of student debt in 18 months, a little over a decade earlier, using Since then, I have paid my $600K home in cash (my half was $300K), my $180K casr in cash, 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 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.

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Posted on February 7, 2019

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