Save. Spend. Splurge.

My journey from $60,000 in debt to $200,000 as my net worth

On occasion, I review my net worth journey and subsequently, my money journey, going from being in debt to having a 6-figure net worth.

It’s kind of my only motivation not to spend all the money in my bank account just because I’m bored and am online shopping.

Anyway, this is what it looks like:


Age 16 – 18: Started working and freelancing.

I worked at a fast food restaurant while starting a business on the side for freelance web consulting and playing video games for money.

Naturally blew all my earnings on crap.

Had no idea what saving was aside from short-term saving, and didn’t think about the future.

If only someone had pulled me aside and taught me money basics.

Age 19: Realized I had no savings to pay for college.

Although my parents had promised $10,000 from their lottery winnings to me, they ended up reneging on that promise.

Moved out to live on my own.

Started college with student loans from the government, while working 2 full-time jobs and attending school.

(One of those jobs were freelancing so my hours were very flexible and I could work while in class. With the other, I was a building superintendent which meant I could live at a subsidized rent rate and do work / clean the building at night.)

Was not frugal in the slightest.

Age 23: Graduated with $60,000 in student loans.

FINALLY realized that I needed to take control of this money situation with $60,000 in debt staring at me in the face.

Got kind of panicky just thinking about the interest I was paying each day on my loans.

Cursed myself.

Started on a personal finance rampage; read every article and blog I could find on money management and even started a blog chronicling my debt repayment (which I eventually sold).

Also started contributing 4% of my salary for a full 100% employer match on retirement savings even though I was in debt because a 100% employer match = 100% free money.

….which meant I was saving 8% in retirement each year.

I put my money into index mutual funds offered by the company. The MERs were killer.

Began to budget and track my expenses.

Age 25: Cleared $60,000 completely.

It took me 18 months from the age of 23 to 25 to kill that debt.

Cursed myself again for not having been more frugal during college.

By the end of the year my net worth was well into the black with $36,366.

Started investing my extra money into index mutual funds and maxing out my retirement funds.

Age 26: Took a year off to travel and relax.

Age 27: Worked 3 months. Hit $100,000 in net worth.

Took the rest of the year off and traveled.

Age 28: Worked 9 months. Hit $200,000 in net worth.

Took the rest of the year off and traveled.

Age 29: Worked 10 weeks.

Increased net worth by $44,928 after spending a chunk of it traveling.

Took the rest of the year off and traveled.

Age 30: Took a year off to travel and relax.

Started investing in individual stocks for fun but the majority of my money is in index mutual funds.

Somehow managed to increase my net worth by $17,000 anyway even without working, and traveling to boot.

Got pregnant.


The pattern is that I am semi-retired. Sometimes by choice, sometimes not.

I seem to take a lot of time off in between projects because I can’t work for a year without taking a year as a break.


Okay so I’m joking a little, but doesn’t it look like that’s the pattern? Work. Play. Work. Play. Work. Play.

I kind of like this lifestyle.

It’s a lot less stressful than having to work like a dog all the time, and even better, I get to enjoy my money while I’m young, knowing that my best years for earning money are still ahead of me.

It is a lot more fun to save money than to get out of debt.

I wish I had been more aware of these 3 things before I started college:

  1. How to be more frugal as a college student / understand why it is important to be frugal
  2. How much I was accumulating in debt for school — would have helped to have seen the number daily
  3. How to invest my earnings rather than saving it in a bank account and getting the itch to spend it

Basically I wish I had become a PF blogger in high school, not after college.

I’d be a good $50,000 extra ahead, I think.

Sometimes I kick myself thinking about that.

Other times, I think: Meh. Let it go. You started earlier than most folks. Better late than never.

I’m my own worst critic.




  • Andrew

    That awesome I am a student and I work full time saving as much as I can afford. After investing 35k into a construction project (once in a lifetime invetsment) and now have 200k (although I have 40k student debt) sitting in my bank at age 22, going to travel all of next year and take a page out of your book work, play, work, play. Good work bud.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      That’s fantastic!! Enjoy your wealth. You did really well to turn $35K into $200K 🙂

      Work play, work play. That’s kind of my motto these days.

  • Emily @ Urban Departures

    I envy your work play balance. And WOW. You increased your net worth by $200K in two years?! That’s incredible.

    I didn’t really start managing my money until recently (i.e. ~2 years). I’m not in a bad place but what gets to me is how much money I wasted in my younger years. I don’t mind spending money on things I want/need/value, but I spent a lot on garbage that I have ended up throwing/donating. Live and learn.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      Pretty much. Now I’m just coasting and waiting for a contract (Baby Bun kind of threw a wrench into things)…

      Hey, at least we both started young. Better to have started now than at 50, wondering where all the time and money went.

  • Sassy City Chic

    You’re so lucky! I wish I had the opportunity to put 90% of my check towards my debt. But with rent, utilities and bills that’s not even close to being an option.

  • SarahN

    I’m lucky to live where I do, and therefore didn’t really accrue much debt whilst studying 🙂 So I’ve always been ‘boring’ with my financial journey – in university I saved money for tuition and travelled when I could, and now I earn way more, and save more… And travel. I often wonder what ‘enough’ might be.

  • Michelle

    That is amazing what you’ve done. I think you need to pat yourself several times on the back, you’ve done a great job in turning things around. You’ve got the right philosophy…better late than never!

  • Bridget

    Insanity. I’m too ashamed to write down my financial history. It looks like “left school at 25 with $21,000 debt… paid it all off and achieved $40,000 net worth by 27… went down to $0 net worth by age 28 just for fun” 😡

  • Shannon @ Financially Blonde

    I review my financial journey all the time because even though some of it is difficult to observe from the rearview mirror, I have learned so much along the way and I never want to forget the lessons that I have learned. I am now at the point where I definitely work too much (because I am passionate about my company) and I would love to get to the point where I enjoy it more. Soon hopefully!

  • ArianaAuburn

    You shouldn’t kick yourself for not knowing better while in college. You should realize that you are the luckiest woman in the world in being able to bounce back from debt to financial gain since a lot of people are unable to do that. There are people approaching their retirement age who have not paid off their debts and would end up having their retirement funds used to pay off their student loans because they cannot be eliminated in bankruptcy.

  • Mario Adventuresinfrugal

    Wow, that’s terrific. It’s awesome that you’ve found a niche that allows you to sprint toward huge gains in net worth for a few months out of the year. Congrats on all of it 🙂

  • Alicia @ Financial Diffraction

    Wow, I’m so glad you laid that all out for me. 🙂 I’m so late to the game, but I’m working on it. $1,300 per month will have to do. And although my debt is only half yours, I will be done in 18 months as well.

  • GirlinaTrenchcoat

    Now that I’m reviewing my financial history, I’m kicking myself too for spending so much money on crap, like a $400 bag when I was living on a student’s salary(WTH was I smoking?!).

    But I agree with your second statement. Better to be young and reckless, then learn from it, than old and penniless and none the wiser.

  • Midori

    I’m learning now and I’m 24 years old… same situation in college, spent my financial aid money like it was free! Now I’m paying it allll back. 🙁 But I had way less debt (1/3 of yours), so I guess that’s not too bad. I’m learning from you though… 😛 I hope I get as much as you in the future!

  • debt debs

    You really have started young enough by most standards. I am totally my own worst critic. Instead of beating myself up about what I did not do right before, I need to commend myself for the path we are now following. Easier said than done… but I’ll keep at it!

    • save. spend. splurge.

      @debt debs: This is what I try to remind myself each time I glance at my net worth and feel ridiculous for the years I wasted during college.

      I don’t regret all the traveling I’ve done in between contracts because I made those choices, but in college I was just plain clueless about money.

  • Rebecca

    It only took you 18 months? Wow, that’s awesome! I have the same amount and just started paying back in November. I got a long way to go, but I do plan on traveling once its all gone!

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