How I Saved My First $100k Before 30 Years Old

They say saving your first $100k is the hardest, and I’d have to agree. After starting my first job with a net worth of negative $60,000 in 2015 (AKA I had so much debt), I hit a net worth of $100k a couple weeks ago at the age of 29 years old.

If you haven’t read my net worth updates over the years, you can find those here:

If you’re reading this post, that probably means you’re interested in increasing your own net worth!

If you’ve already surpassed the $100k milestone, I’d love to know how our journeys to $100k are similar or different.

And if you’re simply interested in getting to the $100k milestone one day, I think you’ll find that everything I’ve done can be replicated with a little focus and patience!

 

This post is all about how I saved my first $100k before 30.

net worth calculator

 

Quick Navigation – How I hit $100k Net Worth:

  1. I Began Investing With My Very First Job
  2. I Paid Off My Student Loan Debt As Fast As I Could
  3. I Avoid More Debt
  4. I Budget So I Don’t Overspend
  5. I Learned About Other Ways Of Investing
  6. I Save Cash
  7. I Look For Ways To Increase My Income
  8. I Continue To Prioritize Saving and Investing

 

“Net Worth” Definition

Before we dive in, a quick bit on “net worth”. Net worth is simply one’s assets minus their liabilities.

Assets are things you own. Liabilities are things you owe.

Assets are things like your cash savings or investments. And liabilities are things like student loan debt, car debt, or credit card debt.

If you want to calculate your own net worth, add up all of your assets and your liabilities, and then subtract your liabilities from your assets.

The best way to increase your net worth is to increase your assets and decrease your liabilities.


Here’s how I increased my assets and decreased my liabilities to hit a net worth of $100k:

 

1. I Began Investing With My First Corporate Job

I started my first job shortly after I graduated college in 2015. Thanks to a few professors and my mom (lol) I knew I wanted to start saving for my retirement as soon as possible.

I’ve always been concerned with my future. So when one of my economics professors in college stressed the importance of saving for retirement as early as possible, I trusted him and took his advice.

My mom had always told me the same. From a young age, she had always emphasized the importance of “paying yourself first” — or making sure that you set some money aside in savings/for your future in your bank account every time you get paid — and investing in my 401(k), so that’s what I did. I began investing my first year in a corporate job.

My first, full-time job offered a 401(k) with a match, so starting with my very first paycheck, I was contributing at least that amount to my retirement every month. If you have a 401(k), you are an investor as money invest in them is ultimately invested in the stock market.

I didn’t put much aside for my retirement each paycheck at the beginning of my career, but starting to invest when I did has been very beneficial because it’s given my money a lot of room to grow, thanks to compound interest.

 

2. I Paid Off My Student Loan Debt As Fast As I Could

At the age of 21, I also had about $60,000 of student loan debt, which put my net worth in the negative.

My parents had taken out student loans for me while I was in college so that I could afford to go to there, and six months after I graduated, it was time for me to pay them back.

I write all about my timeline of paying off my student loan debt and how I did it in this post, but to make a rather long story short haha, I started getting serious about becoming debt free in 2017.

I stumbled upon a few personal finance blogs, and they inspired me to take control of my finances and get out from under the debt that I had.

While paying off my student loan debt over the course of 4.5 years, I continued to invest for my retirement.

Again, I never really invested that much, but I made sure to at least do up until the 401(k) match that my first company, and my second company that I worked for, had offered.

5 years after I graduated college, I was able to make my very last student loan payment.

This was a huge accomplishment that required a lot of hard work and therefore, I am so happy this time of my life is now in my past lol.

 

Side Hustles

For a little more background on my debt free journey: I had a side hustle or five all along the way haha. If I wasn’t scooping ice cream at my part-time job, I was babysitting. If I wasn’t babysitting, I was using cashback apps like Upside or Field Agent.

I also did a lot of reselling of clothes on Poshmark and at Plato’s closet. Or, I would take clothes to a consignment shop where they would sell the clothes for me and give me a cut of the profits.

Side hustles were key to paying off my student loan debt. They allowed me to make additional income that I put right toward my student loans.

I will say though, that doing side hustles usually means you’ll have less time to do the things you really love like spending time with your family or friends. You’ll have a lot less spare time, but I always told myself it was temporary, because it was.

 

student loan lessons learned

 

3. I Avoid More Debt

Now that I’ve paid off $60k of debt, I really don’t want anything to do with debt at all haha. I know sometimes it’s unavoidable, like if you buy a new home, for example, but I just haven’t needed to acquire more debt just yet and I’m relieved about that.

I currently live in an apartment that I rent, so I don’t have a mortgage.

I own a paid-off, 2006 Toyota Camry (that I LOVE!) and I haven’t had a car payment in my adult life. This has been a huge advantage. If I were to sell my car today, I could get a couple thousand dollars for it.

Because I could make a profit if I were to sell my car, my car is an asset. I count my car in my net worth calculation!

I use credit cards, but I pay them off almost as soon as I use them. I really dislike carrying that debt around with me, and I never let a month go by without paying my card off in full.

Avoiding debt helps me ensure that my liabilities are as low as possible. I won’t take on more debt until it’s absolutely necessary.

At this point in my life (29 years old), I do not have any debt, nor do I have immediate plans to incur any.

I also try to avoid lifestyle creep, which is essentially the act of upgrading your lifestyle with new things every time your income increases. I avoid buying new things unless I absolutely need them.

 

4. I Budget So I Don’t Overspend

When I started taking my student loan debt seriously, I also started budgeting. I had always heard that budgeting was a good idea, but it had always seemed boring/like a hassle so I put it off for a long time.

But when I realized that budgeting could help me track how much money I was bringing in, how much money I was spending, and how much money I could put toward my student loan payments, I realized how important and helpful budgeting actually is.

I have now been budgeting for about 5 years. Even though I’m debt free, I still budget every single paycheck. I use the zero-based budgeting method, and actually really enjoy creating and updating my budget several times throughout the month.

My budget doesn’t make me feel like my spending is constricted, but rather, my budget makes me feel in control of my money, and that’s a GREAT feeling!

Now, budgeting is a habit of mine, and I have no doubt I’ll continue to do it for as long as I live haha.

 

5. I Learned About Other Ways Of Investing

After a few years of only investing via my 401(k), I started learning about Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), and Employee Stock Purchase Plans (ESPPs).

When I started paying off my debt aggressively, I created an Instagram to track my progress to becoming debt free, and became surrounded by a lot of other money-conscious people. Over time, their content rubbed off on me, so I credit a lot of my financial knowledge of investment accounts to Instagram haha.

Eventually, I also learned that a few of these investment tools had a maximum that you can contribute each calendar year or tax year depending on the account.

Take a 401(k), for example. This investment account has a maximum amount of money that you can put into it each year. For the year 2022, for example, an individual can contribute a maximum amount of $20,500 into this account.

As soon as I became debt free, I started bumping up my contributions so that I could hit the maximum amount. In 2021, I maxed out my 401(k) for the first time. For 2022, I am trying to do the same.

IRAs and HSAs are similar. Depending on your age and income level, these accounts have a maximum amount that you can contribute to them.

For the 2022 tax year, for example, an individual can contribute up to $6,000 in their IRA, and $3,650 into their HSA.

I maxed out my HSA for the first time in 2021 as well. I haven’t ever maxed out my Roth IRA (yet!).

Once I learned that these accounts have maximum contribution amounts, this kind of changed the game for me and my retirement savings. Before, I was just contributing what I felt like I could, but knowing about the maximum amounts gave me specific money goals to aim for.

I also dabble in my Employee Stock Purchase Plan. As an employee at my company, I can buy my company’s stock at a discount, so I take advantage of that. I’ve done this at my current company and at my previous company for the last few years.

 

6. I Save Cash

Another way I increase my assets is by saving cash. For the last several years, I’ve had an emergency fund tucked away in a high-yield savings account.

What has always helped me is having an automatic transfer set up so that every time I got paid, I would have money from my paycheck automatically sent to my savings account. This way, I never really had to think about it.

Nowadays, I’m trying to save $30k in cash by the time I turn 30. I’m doing this because I expect there to be a lot of big expenses in my near future – things like, a new car, and maybe even a house, wedding, baby, etc.

I’m a forward thinker, can you tell? Lol 😛

Having cash saved has always made me feel super secure with my finances, but it’s also really hard for me to save cash! So, this $30k savings goal will be a challenge for sure.

 

7. I Look For Ways To Increase My Income

Another way I have increased my net worth is by looking for ways to increase my take-home pay / income.

A great way I’ve been able to do that is simply looking for a new job when I felt that my current job was no longer serving me. With every move to a new job, I’ve been able to increase my salary. I’ve switched jobs twice in my career thus far.

Over the last 10 years or so I’ve also never accepted a job offer without negotiating my salary. I’ve always known that not negotiating could severely impact my earning potential over time, and that alone worries me more than having to negotiate does. Negotiating can be hard and awkward, but it is so worth it, and really should be the first step before you accept a job offer!

Additionally, I pursue promotions. This way, I am usually becoming more skilled but also increasing my income.

Lastly, I’ve always done side hustles (like this blog!) to make extra money.

 

8. I Continue To Prioritize Saving and Investing

Now that my student loan debt is behind me, I can really put any “extra” money I have toward further increasing my net worth and building wealth, which is awesome!

I continue to prioritize saving and investing, and I’m able to do that now more than ever.

Like I said before, I’m trying to save $30k by the time I turn 30, and I’m trying to max out my 401(k) and HSA this year. Saving cash also helps if there’s ever an unexpected expense that pops up.

It’s not always easy for me to invest or save (and sometimes I think — why am I doing this to myself? haha) but at the end of the day, I’m reminded of “future me” and I know she will be so happy that I started focusing on increasing my net worth when I did.

 

My Net Worth Breakdown

My assets include my investments (401(k), IRAs, HSA, Employee Stock Purchase Plan), my cash savings and my car that is worth about $2,200.

My investments make up the vast majority of my net worth.

I currently have no liabilities.

 

How To Track Your Net Worth

You can track your net worth manually by subtracting your liabilities from your assets, or you can use an app called Personal Capital. This is the app that I use to track my net worth and I like it!

 

Financial Experts You Can Learn From

Here are a few financial experts you might like to learn more from:

 

This post was all about how I saved my first $100k before 30.

 

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About Taylor

A few years after graduating college, Taylor made it her mission to become debt free. After paying off all $60k of debt, she began to blog about what she's really passionate about: personal development. Nowadays, Taylor blogs about the topics of Mindset, Money, Health, and Career for women. Read more about Taylor here.

"It's Per$onal" is a super popular and anonymous blog series about the personal lives and finances of women all over the world. Check it out!

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