Save. Spend. Splurge.

Updated 2019: How much I have saved and earned over the lifetime of my career


YEARS WORKED: 58% of my Career

I feel old now. 14 years? FOURTEEN? That’s the age of one of my nephews… O_o

I also calculated the 8.12 years of actual time worked because I did it by the days. My contracts don’t pay me for holidays or vacations, and I keep very detailed notes for invoicing purposes of when I worked.

If I take the total cumulative days in a year, that gives me enough of an approximation of how much I worked in a year, hence 8.12 as “years worked” so far.

As I have a new contract starting soon, this will go up to maybe 9 years worked out of 14-15.

So, I have worked almost 60% of my available career / working days. This is not a bad ratio, considering I started off at $65K out of school and worked like an insane person. If I had kept track of everything by hours at that time, this percentage would go up.

As a junior employee, I was regularly putting in 60-80 hours a week trying to ‘catch up’ on knowledge, and also doing extra work on the weekends and nights for internal company stuff that got ZERO recognition in terms of bonuses.

After I busted my ass working on internal stuff, I realized that since it wasn’t billable, I wasn’t going to get financial compensation for it, so I stopped helping and doing extra. If I don’t get paid for it as part of recognition, why should I do it for the benefit of everyone else?

As for the ratio — the more work the better!

I never try to keep a ratio of 50/50, but I know as a freelancer I am not likely to work 100% of the time, so it is unrealistic to save and budget based on that. I have to imagine the worst.

SALARY EARNED: $1.38 million

Isn’t it crazy when you look back and see how much you’ve earned in the past decade and realize it is over a million?


Anyway, it’s gross salary which means my company taxes (20% minimum) have not been deducted, and my own personal dividends from the company (which also get taxed again), have not been deducted, so while I love that number, I know it is less than that net in my pocket.

This is why tracking how much I saved versus how much was from investments is so difficult.

I don’t take a set salary with known deductions and taxes, and I also don’t really care to track all the nuances of that.

I keep all of my money in the company and only withdraw from post-tax retained earnings of my company what I need as my maximum to live on and pay as little personal tax as possible

Some years, this was impossible, and I paid over 55% in personal income tax because I needed the money for a home, etc.

In other years, I pay very little tax as long as I take out as low of an amount as possible — not many freelancers can or want to live like this. Many of them take out the maximum $200K or whatever they earn and pay 55% immediately to the government.

The smart tax strategy is to live on less, and take out ONLY WHAT YOU NEED, and leave the rest in the company, invested under the company, growing your capital.

If you can live on even less, you could take out slightly more money and bank that as your personal savings and invest it but pay very little taxes.

Okay back to the numbers

I grossed $1.38 million in total. This means if I look at my entire 14-year career, my average salary was $98,276.66 a year, including the years I didn’t work much AND including the first 2 years I worked full-time (more than FT actually) for $65K – $67K.

Those two years of employment really brings down my salary averages.

My hourly rate is $49.14/hour.

If I look at only the days worked in the 8.12 years and the salary paid, then my average salary shoots up to $170,901.63 a year which sounds closer to what I earn now (around $230K if I worked a full year).

Again, as this includes my 2 years of employment at $65K – $67K, my average salary is dragged down, BUT… will have less of an impact the longer I work.

My average hourly rate is then $123.21 which is really good. I used to only charge $110/hour as my minimum, and now my minimum is $120/hour, although I consistently ask and push for $135/hour … LIKE ANYONE ELSE.

Some consultants go for $70/hour because they don’t know they can ask for more AND/OR they do not know how to ask for more AND/OR need to absolutely work and will take whatever contract at whatever ‘decent’ hourly rate. I don’t really care as it weeds them all out of the market, and leaves me sitting pretty, all alone, ready to start bidding wars with other companies who then turn desperate and feral for my knowledge.

Only the consultants (mostly men) who know what they are doing, ask for $130+/hour.

The women, tend to all lowball themselves at $70 – $100/hour and frankly, that’s up to them to think they aren’t worth the extra $60K a year for that $30/hour boost. I’ve already gently told one or two that they should ask for a $100/hour MINIMUM … who knows if they followed my advice.

Then again, I have 2 specialties, which makes me a double threat….. and very attractive to a client which is why I can also command more money.


If we look at my full career of 14 years with my average $98,276.66 salary, I have saved 8.56 times that in my net worth.

If we look at just the days worked of 8.12 years with my average $170,901.63 salary, I have saved 4.92 times that in my net worth.

If we look at yet another set of ratios (way more conservative), and take out my fixed assets – house and car (both of which are paid), it means my liquid net worth to date is $394,180.62.

I have then, with my average 14-year salary and saved 4.01 times my salary.

Or with my actual years worked of 8.12 and salary, I have saved 2.31 times my salary.

Looking back at this post: How much should you have saved for retirement? for benchmarks it shows me I should have at least 1X my salary saved.

Age 35 = $77,376 saved (1X your salary)

I am safe on both counts, even by my most conservative estimates, I have at least 2.31 times my salary saved in liquid assets (not including my mortgage-free home and car-loan-free-car)

I follow and I don’t follow retirement / net worth benchmarks. I do it to make sure I am not just average but above average as I earn an above average income (makes sense, neh?) and it is nice to know if I am at least meeting the minimums.

If I look at the average net worth of American millennials by age, and looking ONLY at my liquid investments, I am definitely doing better than the $16,132 in net worth saved by my compatriots, but barely squeak into the category of overachievers having $373,844 saved as their retirement net worth. I am not American but we are close enough. 😛


Maybe seeing the lower numbers makes me work harder, in the sense that if I think I “only” have around $394K saved, I am motivated to really pump that number up as high as it can go….. Food for thought.

Have you done your numbers?

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