The Top 10 Ways I’ve Been Able to Grow My Net Worth

When I look back at my life so far I tend to think I saved money one dollar at a time. While that may true there are certainly some moments in life that helped me reach my savings goals faster. The list below contains most of the momentous events and decisions that helped me save along the way:

  1. My husband and I both worked in IT. As you know that industry comes with the potential for very high salaries. No matter how much weight one places on saving money, the key to accumulating a high net worth in a relatively short amount of time is earning a lot of dough. Of course you also have to bank that money, otherwise you’ll have lots of fun toys but little cash to show for it.
  2. No matter what you do for a living if you work hard let your boss know it. In my 12 years as a software developer I received a mediocre review only one time. When I questioned my boss’s decision he told me I made the work look too easy. If you are working hard let your boss know it. If you get too much done without pointing it out your boss may assume the work wasn’t very difficult to begin with and rate you accordingly.
  3. I began contributing to savings and retirement accounts immediately. A portion of my very first paycheck went into my 401(k). I started setting aside 6% of my salary and raised the contribution level every time I received a raise.
  4. My husband and I have no student loans. Our parents generously paid for our schooling, which gave us a HUGE advantage after graduation.
  5. We’ve never had credit card debt. Even though my starting salary was only $32,000 a year I never bought anything I couldn’t pay off within a month.
  6. After graduation I lived in a group house for $310 a month. Was it absolutely awful to share a bathroom with three other people? No doubt. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. I saved a ton of money by living this way. An apartment of my own would’ve cost at least $900 a month.
  7. My parents let me drive their old bomber of a car, which meant I wasn’t immediately sacked with a car loan. The car loan came about a year later, but with no student loans and cheap rent I paid my car off within a year.
  8. I bought a house in 2001. Good timing to say the least. My property is worth nearly double what we originally paid for it.
  9. My job provided superior health benefits. For years I suffered from medical issues that interfered with my work and life. My health insurance covered the majority of my traditional medical bills.
  10. I can delay gratification for unbelievably long periods of time. I’m not an impulse buyer. I live with 1950s bathroom decor and cars built before 2000. I sometimes covet the shiny new toys of friends and coworkers but I rarely pull the trigger on buying them.
How about you? What moments and decisions have helped you save money?

6 thoughts on “The Top 10 Ways I’ve Been Able to Grow My Net Worth”

  1. That is impressive. I think the biggest way by which you have increased your networth is because your fun/happiness is tied to how much money you have in the bank. I have friends who buy the latest toys, but enjoy the heck out of them and others who derive happiness from traveling. Judging solely by your last post and this one, I think your happiness is tied to the amount of money you have. So you not buying things or not going on vacations is hardly a sacrifice for you, because it gives you more happiness to see that money sit in the bank.

    I am not trying to say what you are doing is necessarily bad. I was just trying to point out that there are different paths to happiness. Yours is one of them

    • Hi Jen. Thanks for commenting. I wouldn’t say my happiness is tied to how much I have in the back. Though I would say I am much less stressed and at ease when I know money is in there. My happiness is more closely linked to the time I get to spend with friends and family, but I’d need to write another post to give justice to that fact.

    • Hmm. Now sure how you see this as smug? My parents paying for college permitted me to save more of my salary once I graduated and began working. The post is about the decisions and events that led to my savings and my parents paying for my education was a HUGE factor in growing my net worth.

  2. Now, it’s true, I can think of something that have helped me financially… strong understanding of finance, a full-ride scholarship, and frugal know-how.

    I’m not here to paint my own sob story, but I have an easier time citing what I’ve done to destroy my earning and wealth potential.
    – Leaving my career in engineering to pursue education (which I love but has much less earning potential0.
    – Marrying a spendthrift husband who didn’t take financial responsibility seriously. (We later divorced)
    – Buying too much house, and not being able to sell in a down market.
    Not all these things were 100% my fault, nor am I without a lick of blame. In the same way, not all the things on your list 100% your doing. (I don’t think you were saying that.)
    I think it’s good that you can identify what has gone right for you… perhaps that is helpful to some. However, this paints a very rosy picture that not everyone has the good fortune of experiencing. So perhaps, for us who have circumstances that have lead to major money loss… how about a discussion on that?

  3. My list looks a lot like yours. My parents also generously paid for my college tuition. Although I’ve never had a job that paid a lot of money, I’ve always had excellent job benefits and practiced solid savings habits. Work paid for half of my MBA education and I get 401(k) matching. I started contributing to retirement in my early 20s. I carry no credit card debt. I rarely gamble/buy lottery tickets (only once in a blue moon, just for fun). After college, I lived with my parents for a few years (I did pay them pretty good rent but in return, I got free home-cooked meals and use of their car and got to live in a centrally-located town). Plus, I was glad my rent $ was going towards my parents instead of some annoying landlord). When I travel, I stay at inexpensive places or with friends. I go to museums on days that they’re free. I try out pricey restaurants during Restaurant Week ($30 for three-course meal). I didn’t buy a house until last year but it was a good time (near the bottom of the market). I got a great deal on my used car and have cheap insurance. I used to take Adult Education classes and sometimes would become an “assistant” where I’d have my course fee waived (or cut in half). I also can delay gratication for long periods of time. I bet if we took that Stanford marshmallow test when we were kids, we would have passed with flying colors! 🙂 I know we both have been fortunate with certain events (e.g., our parents paying for college) but I agree with you that our choices/actions in life have a lot to do with our overall financial health.


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