*None of this is investment advice*
$100,000 by age 22. Sounds impossible. Sounds like winning the lottery or getting lucky making YouTube videos. I was able to have a net worth of over $100,000 at age 22. I made an average of less than $35,000 per year and here’s how it was done!
Having $100,000 by age 22 is not an easy thing to do. Even if it is not something that I attained by age 22, saving $50,000 or even $25,000 would have felt like a great accomplishment. It was important to remember that saving any amount or making any profit on my investments is a win.
It also needs to be mentioned that I did not attend college full time from 18 to 22. I was a part time student, full time employed. I also am not married and do not have children. But with two incomes this still could have been possible because of my low cost of living and refusal to take on debt.
Step 1: Auto-save and be consistent
Every time I get paid, I instantly buy stocks with about 40% of the money. When I made $1,200 every two weeks that would be about $500 per check invested. When making up to $1800 every two weeks between $800-$1000 invested. I never used a budget, I don’t think they are enjoyable to follow and usually become unrealistic. A necessity was to be very intentional with my spending and follow lots of minimalist/FIRE principals. I did not allowing myself to suffer just to save a couple dollars, but big lifestyle changes are what allowed me to save large sums of money.
Starting out the first goal was to save about 3-6 months of my income in an emergency bank account as cash. Then money went into an investment account, starting with Robinhood (sign up link below, we each will receive a free stock!). Extra money at the end of the month would be left in my checking (I have the discipline to not spend it, people who don’t should transfer it to another savings account) and that money was used for fun purchases like travel, or Air pods, or anything like that. This was guilt free spending on anything.
Once this saving habit began it was quite enjoyable and fun. Instead of buying a 50th T-shirt, buying a few shares of Apple stock and becoming the proud owner of Apple, as well as getting to see my bank account grow is super fulfilling. An investment account going from $0, to $1000, to $10,000, to $25,000, $50,000, etc. is a brilliant experience. The best part about this strategy is it made my life LESS stressful. There was never a worry about paying bills AND it made spending the extra money enjoyable. When spending money, I’m not thinking about paying back the credit card bill. When an unexpected $1000 to spend on my car comes up or an emergency flight to visit family, there is no stress on whether I can afford to pay that, because I know I have the money ready if needed.
Step 2: Stop buying junk!!!!
This is the most captain obvious thing but it’s the most important too. Buying bottles at the club? stop. Buying your 14th pair of shoes when you don’t even wear 10 of them? stop. Buying $6 coffee every day? stop. This does not mean that I never buy these things, but honestly, I’ll never buy a bottle at the club. It just means that this comes after metting savings goals.
Many people don’t have the same goals and obligations, so they won’t or can’t save 40-60% of their paycheck. But it is very important to put saving first when it comes to spending. Buying stocks or putting money into an IRA was an expense for me. Meaning it was like paying rent, or a phone bill. It was not an option; it was a necessity.
I need to clarify that this does not mean that I didn’t enjoy myself and have fun. This does not mean I can’t buy nice, expensive things. Most people that ask me about money or ask me how I saved so much think that I just sat in my bedroom staring at the ceiling every day. The truth is just the opposite.
I spend NO money on things I don’t care about and spend a TON of money on things I love. Coffee at Starbucks was not worth the cost in my day to day life. I love to travel so spending thousands of dollars per year on travel is worth it. Video games used to consume a most of my spending because that’s how I enjoyed spending my time, now I spending nothing on video games. I’ve recently gotten into Jiu Jitsu, so that now is something that takes a large portion of monthly “fun money”. But I also say no to anything that doesn’t matter to me. If I get asked to go to a concert I say no, I don’t care much for concerts. If I get asked to go to the mall, I may go to hang out but I’m not going to buy anything. The only time I eat out at restaurants is to get sushi or lunch/dinner with friends every few weeks. Really figuring out what I want out of life is how money was directed. It is a tool I use to allow me to enjoy the things that I love, and spend WAY MORE money on that stuff. No nice appartments, no expensive clothing, and no $1000 car payment. Those are not what I want out of life currently.
The point of this is to really figure out what you LOVE and spend your money on that, and anything you don’t absolutely LOVE you need to stop spending on. At least that’s my motto and it has worked quite well.
Step 3: Stay away from debt
Debt is the killer. Honestly the main reason I was able to save so much money on a relatively small income was because I had no debt. My vehicle, which the first one I bought was a $1200 motorcycle and my first car was a $7000 Nissan were both bought with cash. This allowed me to not have to take money from my check every month to pay bills and allowed me to purchase stocks or travel or sushi instead. No student loans, no credit card debt, phone paid off.
Step 4: Cheap bills
My rent has been about $400 per month, utilities, and internet maybe an extra $150, food about $300 including eating out. Because I didn’t have much money saved at the start, I knew I needed to lower my spending and pile up extra cash. That cash was to build my emergency fund. To do this I got roommates. We have a good-sized house, four bedrooms, and four roommates including me. This allowed all of us to pay almost nothing in rent and split the bills. Also, because my phone is paid off and because I’m a veteran my phone bill is only $25 per month, which is about half off. Reducing my bills to the minimum has been a major factor in allowing me to save. Food isn’t something that is in a budget either, but steak is not involved in every meal so $300 works for me.
Step 5: Find investments I loved
Once I got my emergency fund, cut down my bills, and found what I loved spending on I started finding investments that I believed in! When I first started investing, I didn’t know anything. I had a friend who told me I should get a Robinhood account. He told me he bought some Nvidia stocks and had been making money from it. Thinking this was awesome, I quickly followed suit. I bought some stocks with no research like Facebook, AMD, Nvidia, Apple etc. These all luckily ended up making me money and that was quite nice.
Eventually doing some research I started investing into a Roth IRA. I would start maxing that out and same with my company TSP/401k match. Many of the books and articles I was reading said to invest in index funds, which are usually safe and low risk as well as have decent returns around 10%. I decided that if I invested continuously for the next 30 years I would almost guaranteed be worth a few million dollars, I did index fund investing until I was about 20 which was good for me at the time but realizing this was the slow way to make wealth I didn’t think I had to invest 100% into these types of investing.
I then started getting into more “risky” investments because I was willing to do the research and decided that I would invest at least half of my money into more risky things because being financially free much earlier than 50 or 60 years old sounded quite appealing. These “risky” investments (which I don’t consider risky because I did the research) ended up making me lots of money. Buying a ton of stocks while the market was crashing due to covid-19, also made me tons of money. Almost every extra dollar of every check was poored into the market during that downturn.
If it was not for me getting into more “risky” stocks I would only be worth about $60k which is still pretty good for 4 years of savings. But research and some luck allowed me to make much more than that, most of it through the last year (2020). from age 21-22.
*This is not investment advice, just my experience*
Step 6: Get rich
This is kind of a joke but once implementing these techniques, the savings piled up and it was easy to get more and more wealthy. I have been very fortunate with my investments. Some of which doubled and tripled my initial investment. With saving there was also a need for me to spend, I had fun and traveled and went out with friends.
If everything is focused around cutting expenses and not doing anything for enjoyment then that’s not worth it to me, I would have wasted years 18-22 for money, and the purpose of money is to assist in making life more enjoyable and helping gather additional experiences as well as adding comfort and reducing stress. But!!!! If the only goal was live in the now and buy expensive garbage, spending hundreds of dollars in the club then I would be reading this blog wishing I was the one writing it. All of you can be on the writers side with me.
It doesn’t take as much effort as people think to save some money, just make it a ‘bill’. Doing this on an average pay of under 32k annually, for four years, saving over 10k per year, and choosing wise investments worked out well. Even at 50k I would be quite happy with my four-year progress, 50k would begin the process to be well over a millionaire by retirement.
To summarize, I cut spending on stuff I don’t like, increased spending on a few things I LOVE, and saving before spending. I also choose specific investments and did not invest fully into things like S&P (I did invest some there though) and invested in more “risky” things like Tesla stock, AMD stock etc. Which beautifully have grown quite a lot.
Sign up for robinhood with the link!
(nothing in this post is stock recommendations, things change daily, and they could be poor choices so do your own research)
I am very happy where I am financially and wish to continue to be excited enjoying life with no financial stress and will keep following these same procedures.
None of this is investment advice. It is just my experience and what I did to be able to be worth over 100k by age 22 with only four years of work.