In Debt, Discussions, Money, Wealth

My Story of How I Grew my Net Worth – Part I – First $500K

Disclaimer: It is unusual, and even unrealistic so please don’t think that this is the norm. I just thought it would be interesting to share how it happened and Tim’s story had inspired it all.

So here’s the story of my net worth history to date.

JourneyOutofDebt-The-Budgeting-Tool-Chart

TO HIT THE FIRST $50,000

At the start, I was in debt by $60,000, and then when I quit and became a freelancer 18 months later, I was still $18,000 in debt.

Within 3 months with my freelancing contract, I cleared the last $18,000 and ended the contract with $75,000 in the black.

(I earned $90,000 in 3 months.)

None of this would have been possible had I not taken stock of my situation, increased my income, tracked my expenses & learned how to budget.

I did all of this with my Budgeting Tool which I still use to this day, and create my super detailed budget roundups, both yearly and monthly.

TO REACH THE FIRST $100,000

I actually had about $75,000 after my first contract.

However then I decided to take a break after non-stop working since I was 16 years old.


Many times, I had actually picked up 2 jobs to do at night, in between classes in college and on the weekends while my friends partied care-free.

I never took a vacation. I never went anywhere but to work or to school, and had some rare time off at home, I’d read or watch TV to decompress.

I had never traveled alone or extensively for many years because I had no money to do so.

bridge-travel-city-work-career-life-zen

So I breathed a sigh of financial relief and traveled for a few months on a vacation to Europe and spent my money, totally debt-free.

Then that little blip of a recession hit in 2008/2009 and everything plummeted.

Ironically, companies seemed to want to actually spend money on analysis projects, so I managed to grab a second contract a year and a half later.

At that point, I had $50,000 left, having spent $25,000 traveling & living, but near the end I was slowly hoarding my money as it dwindled because I was afraid it might be another 2 years before I got hired again and I refused to become an employee.

I was starting to get nervous at $50,000 because about half of that was locked into my retirement plan that I couldn’t touch until I was 65, so I really only had $25,000 in cash to live on for 2 years.

I seem to do well on the edge of crisis…

work-career-travel

Luckily, after I started my second contract, I hit $100,000 6 months later even with the markets tanking.

I was traveling for this contract which was all-inclusive, so that meant paying for a hotel, travel expenses.. it was eating up about half of my pay so it took me longer than usual.

TO REACH $200,000

Just a few months before I finished my contract, I hit $200,000 and then I paid taxes so my net worth dipped back down below that milestone.

But only just below.

So with that second contract, I hit $100,000 and 5 months later, $200,000 but couldn’t hold it steady at $200,000 or above, just around the mark here and there as the markets fluctuated.

I had one more month of my contract left, and then decided I wanted to take another break.

So.. I went around the world for a year.

I traveled like crazy this time. I went all over Asia and Europe on a budget.

travel-city-paris-france


We had an unexpected break and took advantage of it, unconsciously preparing for our one last hurrah at a badass DINK*  life.

*Dual Income No Kids

I came back rejuvenated, fatigued from constantly traveling and walking 16-hours a day, and itching to work again.

I picked up my third contract a month later and hit that $200,000 mark again.

It wasn’t a long contract (2 months), so I ended up being idle again but I wasn’t sure for how long.

My net worth at the time was $216,000 when I ended my third and shortest contract, and even though I was idle for the next 2 years or so, something curious happened.

My net worth dipped up and down for the next 4 months and then my investments sort of buoyed up and stayed at the $200,000 without working or doing anything.

This is when it hit me.

This was the true net worth revelation of how the rich get richer without doing anything.

My investments were finally making my money work for me without lifting a finger.

Every little percentage increase in the stock market, resulted in a bigger gain than before I had $200,000 saved.

AT $300,000

So to recap, I was at $216,000 at the end of my third contract.

My net worth dipped down to below $200,000 for the next 4 months, and then it held steady above $200,000 for the rest of the time while the market picked up & recovered.

All my investments, and little seeds I invested started gaining traction.

I had no idea at the time but I would be idle for another 28 months because then I was pregnant with Baby Bun.

coffee-tea-drink-warm-winter-cosy-zen

I had gone on some little forays into Europe here and there while being idle, but I had no idea that my money for 2 years would be supporting me quite so well while I was pregnant.

You have to also note that I definitely also paid my 50% of the household expenses the entire time.

I did not shirk or say “I’m pregnant, pay for me!”… I’m a freelancer, and I have to be able to weather feast or famine.

Anyway, I gave birth to Baby Bun, and then went back to work as soon as another (fourth) contract popped up.

I hit $300,000 3 months into my fourth contract and about 32 months after I steadied myself at a net worth of roughly $200,000.

AT $400,000

While on my fourth contract, 4 months after I hit $300,000 in my net worth, I hit $400,000.

It took about 36 months to move from $200,000 to $400,000 because I didn’t work for the bulk of the time.

Once I started working though, it came easily. I guess the moral of this story if you need me to provide one (LOL) is if you want to save money, you need to work.

(Obviously. You’re not idiots. I’m the one who was idle.)

AT $500,000

Another 5 months after I hit $400,000 while on the same contract, I hit $500,000, or about 41 months after I hit $200,000 in my net worth.

So 9 months into my fourth contract, I had half a million. It was a fabulous milestone for me.

I had gone up in my net worth by an additional $300,000 in only 9 months.

parents-children-family-child-kid-baby-life

And now this is where I financially stand today at this very moment.

Off contract, at half a million give or take.

My net worth wavers up and down now, and I am not working and waiting for my fifth contract.

IN SUMMARY

The first $200,000 for me was difficult.

I also made it more difficult by not having a steady job as an employee, but that is the risk I took to be able to earn so much in such a short amount of time.

It is also the risk I take to be able to have all this free time off in between contracts.

I need to enjoy the time I have off, not worry about money because I really have no effin’ reason to bitch or complain about my financial situation, and to keep doing what I do.

I can live without working for up to 5 years or more (if I learned how to rein myself in and stopped spending), and I will get another job sooner or later.

Probably next year, but I am not sweating it (or trying not to in my weak moments).

All I have to remember is that if I could save $300,000 in 9 months (or $100,000 every 3 months), I’ll be FINE.

HAVE YOU EVER REVIEWED YOUR NET WORTH JOURNEY?


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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

I got out of $60,000 of debt in 18 months using TheBudgetingTool.com. Since then, 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 (savings rate = 85%). I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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8 Comments

  1. Lynn Ling

    Amazing and inspiring! Thank you so much for sharing.

    Reply
  2. NZ Muse

    Haha, I’d so rather not! But I will say that the power of investing didn’t truly hit me till I came back from travelling. I’d decimated my savings but my investments had offset that and my networth was nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be.

    Money makes money.

    The 300k in 9 months .. was that mainly via market gains or mainly through earning an income?

    Reply
    1. sherry@savespendsplurge.com

      $300K in 9 months was through my income. 🙂

      Reply
  3. ArianaAuburn

    Yes. Your journey was the inspiration for me to 1) switch fields and 2) to invest and save more (even though I am a student). I review my net worth every 3 months because life is so unpredictable that it fluctuates up and down too much 🙁

    Reply
    1. sherry@savespendsplurge.com

      I plan on not looking at my money for a long time. I am still reeling from the shock of selling my stocks off to have cash for my home LOL

      Reply
  4. raluca

    Wow, that really impressive.
    I can honestly say I envy you a lot and you are an inspiration for me ;).
    Must work more now :).

    Reply

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