The First $100,000 Is The Hardest

by J. Money - Published October 10, 2016

You know what’s hard?

Making your first million dollars.

drake t boone pickens tweet[Dayuuuuuum!!!]

For us normal people, though, I say making your first $100,000 is the ultimate achievement. You can’t make it to a million or a billion without first hitting $100,000, but even more than that – it requires a complete overhaul of both your money and your mindset. You literally go from knowing jack crap to building out an entire plan and foundation. And that’s *if* you even get to the point where you care enough to make it happen!

It took me 28 years to finally start paying attention, and from the emails I routinely get, the epiphany unfortunately comes many decades later for others too.

And even then – once you’re committed to making the change – the real work begins.

  • You have to first figure out where all your money is going, and why
  • You have to cut back from your accustomed lifestyle and start saving everything from scratch
  • You have to climb yourself out of all that debt just to get to even.
  • You have to get your career off the ground/fixed, on top of hustling dozens of side jobs or whatever else will be powering your plan
  • You have to figure out how to invest and balance your life so you actually still enjoy it!
  • And, most importantly, you have to become REALLY good at being patient because it all takes time

In fact, that’s the magic ingredient of it all: time. And it can be a bitch.

But, once you get your mind right and the engine running, it starts getting easier from there until you’re crossing such once-fantasied milestones before you know it! You hit your break-even point at $0.00, then cross $1,000 in savings, and then $10,000 (wow!) and $20,000, up to $50,000, $75,000, $100,000 (!!!), $500,000 and all the way up to the double comma club ($1,000,000) and beyond.

Life is good, and it becomes so easy over time that you rarely need to think about it anymore. You still do because, well, we’re all nerds, but it becomes more out of fun than it does necessity.

And I wouldn’t even care anymore that you stop reading this blog, because it means you’re all set now! :) Unless you’re Drake or T. Boone who can’t stop – won’t stop – until they’re eventually kazillionaires. And I’m sure D. is just waiting to get his revenge on that hustler too, haha…. (seriously, wasn’t that the best thing you’ve ever seen on Twitter??)

My friend over at ESI Money (ESI = Earn. Save. Invest.) recently shared his own milestones and how long they took to cross, and the numbers are pretty mind blowing:

  • $1 million net worth – 19 years, 3 months
  • $2 million net worth – 4 years, 9 months
  • $3 million net worth – 2 years, 8 months
  • $4 million net worth – Not there yet and likely won’t get there since I just retired.

We’ll never know how long it’ll take him to reach a billion now (thanks a lot, bud!), but as you can see, the first push is incredibly harder than the rest. 19 years down to just over 2 to accrue the exact same amount of money – pretty ridiculous.

And I’m sure if you were to track your own progress, you’d see something similar.

I joked with ESI that I was going to steal his idea and tweak it to $100,000’s since I’m not as baller as he is yet, so here it is as promised:

(PS: I assumed that ESI started the clock around the same time he got his first “real” job because he mentions “salary”, so that’s what I did here too. Only I went back to my first hourly job after college (Old Navy, summer of 2001!) since it took me a number of years to actually get my first salaried one…  You can find a complete list of every job I’ve ever done btw, including this very blog, here.)

  • $100,000 net worth: 7 years, 11 months
  • $200,000 net worth: 1 year, 5 months
  • $300,000 net worth: 1 year, 2 months
  • $400,000 net worth: 1 year, 8 months
  • $500,000 net worth: 2 years, 7 months
  • $600,000 net worth: probably over the next 2 years?

As you can see, it took me way longer to hit my first $100,000 than all others. And while I started regressing with the last few $100 G’s (the point kids entered my life and I slowed down The Hustle), it hasn’t required any real additional effort or strategizing on my behalf. I just feed the machine and it does the rest.

The majority of everything you need to do happens between reaching your first epiphany and hitting that first $100,000. You’ll still learn and tweak as you go – and maybe even switch strategies in the process – but once you’ve got your mind right it’s all a matter of pouring in the fuel and letting time (and sometimes luck) take over from there.

Is reaching your first $1,000,000 or even $1,000,000,000 hard? Of course. But if you ask me, getting to your first $100,000 is by far the most important.

If you’re currently there, congratulations! You figured out how to beat 75% of your countrymen! (Total guess there, but probably accurate?) If you haven’t, don’t stress – you’re well on your way, as I don’t know many people who would spend their free time devouring finance blogs and then doing nothing about it :) It all takes time, but once you hit that first $100 grand it’s much smoother sailing.

If anyone would like to divulge how long it took them to hit $100,000 (or even $1,000,000? Where my millionaires at?) we’d love to hear about it.  Or better yet, all those who crossed the debt-freedom line and are now into the positives!

Remember – at the end of the day, it’s all simply a process. And it first starts with caring enough to actually DO SOMETHING about it.

You got this, thousandaires!

thousand dollar club

********
Anyone remember that Thousandaire badge from back in the day? Punch Debt In The Face had a good ol’ time riffing off my Millionaire Club idea which I admit was pretty clever :) And now, 6 years later, I’m realizing just how empowering focusing on those first few thousands are, compared to reaching for the stars. So wherever you are buddy, this is for you! (He’s since sold the blog which was a favorite…)

Jay loves talking about money, experimenting, blasting hip-hop, and hanging out with his two beautiful boys. You can check out all of his online projects at jmoney.biz. Thanks for reading the blog!

{ 150 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kate @ Cashville Skyline October 10, 2016 at 5:29 am

I was actually thinking about this while I was updating my net worth. I’m not there yet, but I’m close! I’ve been tracking my money for nearly three years. There have been some road bumps — quitting my job, losing my job, etc. I think *finally* reaching that mile stone will propel all my other financial goals along faster.

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2 J. Money October 10, 2016 at 8:54 am

It’s going to feel so good!!

And all other $100k milestones will be less as exciting until you hit $500k and $1,000,000 :) (And even then you’ll be used to being on good financial track).

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3 Full Time Finance October 10, 2016 at 6:59 am

Interesting perspective, and it is a valid view point. The underlying reality is that having money makes getting more money easier due to the interest/compounding of the cash. In that respect the scale of how the million grows does not compare to 100k. So purely financially tone has a point. However from a personal note 100k is closer to the inflection point from turning around the debt spiral and changing behaviors. At least psychologically that’s harder to do. I’d say for me it’s the 1m number, but mainly because I had my wake up much earlier then you thanks to experiences with family and graduating into unemployment. I was out of debt 3 yrs after graduation as a result.

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4 J. Money October 10, 2016 at 8:55 am

As Drake says, ‘Started from the bottom, now we here!’

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5 Josh @MoneyBuffalo October 10, 2016 at 7:07 am

If you include the house, yes I would be there. But my wife & I don’t really feel like living out of a box at the moment to have $100k in cash. We are several years out from building our cash reserve & investments up again to have a liquid $100k that isn’t tied up in cars, houses, etc.

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6 J. Money October 10, 2016 at 8:57 am

I think hitting a *net worth* of $100k has the same effect vs saving it all in pure cash (though that’s also pretty bad ass (more bad ass?)). Once you hit $100k you pretty much have to know what you’re doing more or less :)

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7 The Green Swan October 10, 2016 at 7:23 am

I thought ESI’s original post was a good one as well! It is all about getting the ball rolling. After graduating college it took me just under 3 years to reach $100K. It then took me about a 1.5 years to reach $200K, and less than a year to hit each successive $100K all the way to where I currently am at just over a million. All told, it took me about 10 years to hit my first million and I’m hoping 4 to 5 years to hit my next million. Pretty soon I’ll be in the same ball park as Mr. Pickens! :)

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8 J. Money October 10, 2016 at 8:58 am

Wow – that’s incredible! $100k every year?

Packing my bags right now to come follow you and earn through osmosis :)

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9 Joe October 10, 2016 at 12:47 pm

I think the first $100k is hard because it’s all savings. Each successive $100k are still hard because it’s still mostly depends on savings. The more income you make, the easier these steps are.
Once you reach a million, it changes because the investment income is a significant portion of the growth. I think the 2nd million largely depends on investment growth and that’s been easier in the last 9 years.

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10 The Green Swan October 11, 2016 at 7:53 am

Yeah for me it was a combination of a growing salary as I moved up in my career along with compounding and investment growth.

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11 Apathy Ends October 10, 2016 at 7:29 am

Having just crossed the line last quarter, it took about 5.5 years since I started my first real job (my wife started working 3.5 years ago).

I can’t speak from experience on the next 100k, but agree with you that once you develop the habits everything becomes a lot easier. Saving/investing are just part of life now.

Looking forward to the boosts provided by the markets instead of just contributions

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12 J. Money October 10, 2016 at 8:59 am

Congrats on crossing that line! It’s all much smoother from here :)

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13 Elle October 10, 2016 at 7:49 am

Love this! Looking back, with the credit cards, car loan, and student loans I remember how impossible $100k seemed.
It took a HUGE mindset shift, but once the financial system was in place, a rhythm developed and we began to see the numbers move up. I had to dig through the archives, but it looks like it took just under four years from when we got serious about finances to get to $100k.

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14 J. Money October 10, 2016 at 8:59 am

Beautiful!!

And isn’t it so cool to have records of it all with our blogs? That’s one of my favorite parts :) Everything’s documented over the years!

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15 Kalie @ Pretend to Be Poor October 10, 2016 at 7:51 am

Very encouraging post. What a great idea to list how long it’s taken to reach each $100,000, to show people that the saying about the first being the hardest really is true! I’ll be sharing this post with some people whom I know are discouraged about the steep curve of getting started.

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16 J. Money October 10, 2016 at 9:05 am

Thanks friend – I hope you do!

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17 Penny @ She Picks Up Pennies October 10, 2016 at 8:10 am

Before we/I bought a house, my net worth was just shy of $100,000 (in a dusty ol’ savings account!). Then, it took a hit with a house and a wedding. Just when it started to creep back up to the $100,000 mark, we’re paying for all the grad school in all the world. It’s really depressing, but I know it’s the best long-term investment we can make as teachers. Our Roth IRAs and our pensions clock in over $100,000, but I sure miss having more dollars in our savings account, too!

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18 J. Money October 10, 2016 at 9:01 am

No shame in that at all – do you know how many people have $100k in savings??

I literally only know of a few – and they’re $$$ bloggers :) I only have like $5k in savings – so you’re doing great!

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19 Mr Defined Sight October 10, 2016 at 8:28 am

Awesome post. And Drake got owned lol!

The first 100k is indeed a great milestone and figuring out how to grow it from there is a challenge. But what an awesome problem to have!

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20 J. Money October 10, 2016 at 9:04 am

yeah he did, haha…

going over to check out your blog now – thx for stopping in!

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21 Gwen @ Fiery Millennials October 10, 2016 at 8:28 am

It took me approximately 900 days to accumulate the $90k I needed to break the $100k barrier. Each $25k took me less and less time to achieve. Somewhere on my blog I have it all figured out lol

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22 J. Money October 10, 2016 at 9:03 am

I like the 900 and 90!

What does that break down to? $100/day?

Pretty baller!

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23 Sarah Noelle @ The Yachtless October 10, 2016 at 8:35 am

I actually just set a goal to hit $100K by the time I turn 40 (I’m 35). It’s kind of an ambitious (ridiculous?) goal, given that my net worth is currently pretty negative, but I just decided I wanted to have something to shoot for. This post was very encouraging to read — thanks! :)

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24 J. Money October 10, 2016 at 9:04 am

I just want you to know how much I love you – and your writing – and that I have no doubts you’ll reach any of your missions you set out for. You have such a great head on your shoulders, and I don’t say that very often!

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25 Sarah Noelle @ The Yachtless October 10, 2016 at 3:18 pm

Aw, thanks, that’s so nice of you to say. :) We’ll see how things go!

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26 Paul October 10, 2016 at 9:14 am

I actually hit 100k in my retirement accounts last month. Took me 8 years… Although I have only been serious for about 4 of those, If I do the math I believe 2 years to 200K is about right. I am 35 and part of the delay for me is the amount of time it took me to make a significant salary. Now I am putting away about 42K a year in my 401k trying to get it up to the 53 max but hey at 42 a year Im thinking 2 years or at worst 2.5 to 200K. I’m not focusing on an early retirement account right now, 401k is my first priority all the other stuff is secondary.

Also, apparently my Ravens are going to have another horrible year……….cant even beat the skins…………….

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27 J. Money October 10, 2016 at 10:25 am

$42k /year is KILLER man. I don’t know anyone outside of our little $$ bubble here that is doing that, so well done.

Wish I could say I’m sorry to hear about the Ravens, but you know… :)

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28 Paul October 10, 2016 at 4:07 pm

Last time we fired our OC (happened today) and lost to Redskins (yesterday) we won the Superbowl, so fingers crossed here.

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29 J. Money October 12, 2016 at 10:15 am

Goooood luck! #OppositeDay

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30 Mariana March 30, 2017 at 4:45 pm

Haha. Good reminder when I feel we did ‘average’ putting away $54k in 2016. I never imagined we could stretch ourselves so much. We still lived well, ate healthy, and traveled a bit.
It is a bit too easy to feel like not saving enough when all blogs I read are within, as you said it, ‘our little $$ bubble’. ;)

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31 J. Money April 1, 2017 at 6:04 am

$54k is even sexier!!! Well done!!

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32 The Grounded Engineer October 10, 2016 at 11:37 am

Paul, what type of 401(k) can you save over $18k into? You mentioned $42k per year?

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33 Paul October 10, 2016 at 4:11 pm

self employed. individual or solo 401k. I match my pay at 25% which is the max allowable by the IRS. I also think you can do up to 53k if your company offers roth 401k but you just dont get a tax benefit with roth up front.

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34 Brian October 10, 2016 at 9:19 am

100k. 4yrs
200k 1yr
500k 1yr
100k 1yr housing crash
200k 2yr
500k 3yr
1ml 4yr

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35 J. Money October 10, 2016 at 10:29 am

Oh $hit! Ballin’!

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36 Mrs. Mad Money Monster October 10, 2016 at 9:47 am

Hmmm…I think I was around 31 when I hit my first 100k. I worked my way through college (with minimal debt) and didn’t grate until I was 25. So, hitting my first 100k at 31 wasn’t too shabby. Unfortunately, I allowed my personal life to get in the way of my early financial prowess and excitement so it took me much longer to hit 200k than it should have taken. I think the most important things to financial well-being are relationships, especially the boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse type. I was engaged to someone for the latter half of my 20’s who was more interested in being showy, racking up debt, and impressing his friends than saving for the future. It drove me crazy but I couldn’t get him to change his mindset. When we finally split I was around 31 and I had to start over, all while supporting myself and my aging parents. Fast forward to present day, nearly 10 years later I am in a much better financial position than I was at 31, but I could easily be early retired by now had I made finances a priority when choosing a potential spouse in my 20s. *Sigh* We live and learn.

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37 J. Money October 10, 2016 at 10:30 am

At least you have some juicy stories now for the blog ;)

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38 [email protected] October 10, 2016 at 9:54 am

haha love the RT – too funny. Also, I’m pretty impressed that T. Boone Pickens uses Twitter and he follows Drake? awesome :) I haven’t been too focused on tracking our net worth – something I’m looking to improve upon, but we have a general idea. I def agree that each milestone gets easier.

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39 J. Money October 10, 2016 at 10:31 am

I know, right? T. Boone jumped a few statuses up in my books for that ;)

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40 Mrs. Picky Pincher October 10, 2016 at 9:58 am

This is a fantastic idea. We’re still in the “digging out of debt” portion of our lives. We’ll be debt free (mortgage not included) in about 2 years. With our mortgage, that’s about 7 years. But after that point, all of our excess funds will go towards building positive net worth. And since we keep cutting and cutting our expenses and lifestyle, we hope that will amount to a crazy amount of cash!

I really think we can live on $20,000 a year and save the surplus. But getting out of debt is the challenge for us right now. :) It all starts with a step in the right direction!

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41 J. Money October 10, 2016 at 10:34 am

Living off $20,000 is incredible – there’s not much you *can’t* do with expenses that low :) And to hit goals like debt freedom and no mortgage??? Shooooooot.. you’ll be living the high life in no time. And I’m sure it’s already great :)

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42 Britt October 10, 2016 at 10:13 am

This is such an encouraging post, J$! I’ve been tracking our net worth since 2012 thanks to Man vs Debt (old school!), back when we still had a car loan and student loans. As of 10/1 we’re at $83,764 and my stretch goal is to hit $100k before I turn 30 in March. If we can do it, it’ll be 27 months from $1 to $100,000, and 53 months from -$35,000 to $100,000.

I’m so thankful to MvD for getting me started and to you for the monthly reminder of how important it is! I am a numbers geek and loooooooove having almost 4 years of data to look back through.

Punch Debt in the Face! I miss that site. That’s how I originally stumbled across Budgets are Sexy (years ago :) ). His stick figure cartoons were the best.

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43 J. Money October 10, 2016 at 10:24 am

Oh man – bringing back the memories here! Used to LOVE Man vs. Debt. I remember partnering up with them on our Love Drop project too back in the day when they were doing the cross-country stint with Adaptu – remember that?? I hear he’s doing pretty well these days, but sadly don’t see him at our blogging conferences anymore. Same with Ninja.

Anyways, thanks for stopping by and saying hi! Congrats on tracking all your $$ and pushing forward! It’s a beautiful thing :)

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44 Britt October 10, 2016 at 11:39 am

I definitely remember the Love Drop stuff! You three were my initial foray into PF blogs, and it’s changed my life!

I Skyped with Ms Montana last week, and she encouraged me to start commenting more. My MO the last four years has been to read read read but never comment…it seems like so many of the commenters are other bloggers, and I can’t compete with that! ;) However, I’ve promised myself I will comment on three articles a day instead of being an invisible binge-reader!

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45 J. Money October 12, 2016 at 10:20 am

And now here we are talking and having an awesome conversation! Ms Montana was right – it’s all about the community in the end :) So cool you remember the Love Drop days!

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46 Shawna October 10, 2016 at 10:19 am

My net worth hit $91k this month and I’m soooo excited to cross that $100k threshold when it comes! I actually texted my Dad about it haha. If things continue as they have been the past few months, I should hit $100k in Jan/Feb of next year. I’ve been actively managing my finances since Nov 2008 (my 2nd year of college, when someone introduced to me to Mint). My net worth at that time was $3,500 so a lot has happened in 8 years.

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47 J. Money October 10, 2016 at 10:21 am

Hell yeah it has! I’d LOVE to get a text like that from my son when he gets older – makes us fathers proud! :)

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48 Jon @ Money Smart Guides October 10, 2016 at 10:20 am

The best line in this post is “I just feed the machine and it does the rest”. Once you get out of debt and start saving, you just feed the machine – put things on autopilot. I don’t worry about my investments earning me 8% or 10% a year. I just focus on putting away as much as I can (feeding the machine) while still being happy and enjoying life. It has paid off nicely and we are on track to retire by 55.

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49 Stefan - The Millennial Budget October 10, 2016 at 10:33 am

My net worth broke 10k a couple months back. Seeing as I only recently graduated college, debt free thanks to hustling and some parental help, I am waiting to start my job next month. Hoping to hit 100k in 4 years and let compound interest work its magic up to the first million!

My real goal is 150k because this is 1 million dollars back in Trinidad (A Caribbean island) so I will feel like a millionaire then :P

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50 J. Money October 12, 2016 at 10:24 am

hell yeah dude, you’re doing FANTASTIC for that stage of life.

And I know (and love!) Trinidad! I used to work for the airlines and one of my buds was from there. We’d always talk about hopping on a flight one weekend and going out there, but then we got laid off and, well, it never came to fruition haha… I should surprise him one day when I’m uber rich and take a nice trip there :) He still goes back once every year or so to visit family, but sill on my pocket list…

Thx for the trip down memory lane!

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51 Amanda @centsiblyrich October 10, 2016 at 11:23 am

It took us around 13 years to hit the $100,000 mark, simply because we didn’t pay attention in the beginning. Hoping to hit 1 mil sooner than later and, I admit, the wait is getting harder.

I’m running ESI’s Debt Free Story in a couple of weeks. Debt free for 20 years! He started off right and kept it going. A great example for us all!

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52 J. Money October 12, 2016 at 10:22 am

oooh that sounds exciting.

will you shoot it to me if you remember in case I miss it? Would love to hear more about his backstory (though I’ve been reading his original blog for almost a decade already! crazy!)

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53 Financial Panther October 10, 2016 at 11:33 am

Still trying to get that first 100k! I’d have gotten there a lot sooner, but had to first clear up $87k of student loans. Argh! It’s been 3 years since I got my first real job, so thinking it’ll be a few more years until I get to that 100k mark! Hoping to keep that snowball rolling.

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54 J. Money October 12, 2016 at 10:21 am

Hey – it’ll just make your passion that much stronger to hit all future milestones going forward :) You’ve already figured out the system on how to divert $$ towards a major goal, which is more than we can say for millions of our brethren out there! Keep on hustling!

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55 Free to Pursue October 10, 2016 at 12:50 pm

To know where you stand regarding net worth, visit Frugal Fringe’s “Worthometer“. The only one of its kind that I know of.

Now, as for the first milestone, it makes me think of the Transtheoretical Model for personal change. The first stages are the most difficult. Here they are:
1. Pre-contemplation: you’re not even thinking about making a change
2. Contemplation: you’re receptive to the idea of change, and might even be thinking change could be a good thing
3. Preparation: you’re getting ready to make a change; you find resources to help you get going, everything you can get your hands on to figure out what to do
4. Action: You’re right into reading blogs, books, everything you’ve amassed AND you start paying down DEBT and/or start SAVING, and maybe even INVESTING!
5. Maintenance: Much easier than steps 1-5. You’re a pro at this saving stuff and it starts to become a lot easier, sometimes automatic. You’re super-comfortable with it and wonder why you didn’t start sooner.
6. Termination: You don’t even think about needing to do anything. Saving, investing and avoiding debt are so natural for you you don’t need to put much (if any) thought or effort towards it. Congratulations, you’ve officially reached Easy Money Street.

Caution: Relapse is also a thing in the six stages. You can fall off the wagon at any time. Just remember you’re human, dust yourself off and get back on!

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56 J. Money October 12, 2016 at 10:19 am

Amen to all that :)

I remember reading Frugal Fringe the second it came online – really good stuff! Actually met up with him over coffee one time – wish he’d come back and blog more (but you know how those early retirees are ;)).

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57 Free to Pursue October 12, 2016 at 3:28 pm

You met Noonan in person?! OK, now I’m officially jealous. He’s one awesome dude.

And hey, no knocking the ERs. LOL (Some of them are even really hard workers when the mood strikes them. Not all beaches and fruity drinks!)

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58 Noonan October 12, 2016 at 5:07 pm

Sorry i’ve been away this summer paddling kayaks off the Coast of Maine and foraging for beach peas and berries (this was a great year for blackberries). I’ll be returning to the keyboard shortly–thanks to you both for the kind words!!

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59 J. Money October 31, 2016 at 10:19 am

Nice!!! Welcome back sir!

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60 Amy October 10, 2016 at 1:31 pm

Love this!

I hit $100,000 the month of my 25th birthday!

Debt free and now around $160,000. My savings have slowed because focus has shifted to paying off the mortgage. If everything goes according to plan I will be mortgage free before my 30th birthday! fingers crossed!

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61 J. Money October 12, 2016 at 10:18 am

Is it bad that that turns me on?

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62 Done by Forty October 10, 2016 at 2:25 pm

We’re at a really similar net worth and timeline, too. I feel like 10 years seems to be the inflection point: where your money starts working about as hard as you do. Nothing scientific in that…just an overall timeline pattern I notice with personal finance bloggers.

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63 Marc October 10, 2016 at 3:16 pm

Stuck at a miserable job waiting for my green card, after a failed career change, my networth was $0 in June 2013.
1 year and 8 months for 100k
1 year and 5 months for 200k

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64 J. Money October 12, 2016 at 10:17 am

Well that’s pretty damn good! Has to lighten up the pain a bit on the crappy job situation, eh?

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65 Lisa October 10, 2016 at 3:30 pm

I hit 100K this summer. It took me 25 years. Lol. But it should only take me 3 years for the second 100K. I hope.

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66 J. Money October 12, 2016 at 10:16 am

I hope so too!! Sounds like you’ve finally figured out how to do it :)

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67 Centsai October 10, 2016 at 3:53 pm

We loved reading this post! We definitely agree that it is hard to save up $100,000, but once you do it sure does feel great! And that just means that you can continue to save more and more as the years go by! Thanks for sharing with us!

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68 J. Money October 12, 2016 at 10:15 am

Glad y’all liked :)

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69 Leigh October 10, 2016 at 5:31 pm

The first $100,000 is absolutely the hardest! Here are mine:

$100k 2 years
$200k 11 months
$300k 10 months
$400k 10 months
$500k 3 months (this is where things start to get wonky with condo valuations)
$600k 14 months
$700k 4 months
$800k – still working on that one but I should be 95% of the way there as of 10/31! I should have hit it in 8 months but you know, life happens.

So from graduating college to a $700k net worth took me 6 years and 4 months. I have a post in the backburner about how my husband and I built up a $1M+ net worth within x years of graduating from college :)

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70 TJ October 11, 2016 at 4:23 pm

That is bad ass! Well done Leigh.

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71 J. Money October 12, 2016 at 10:12 am

OOoooooooh!!!

I want to see it please when it’s live! Will you pass it over to me???

So juicy! :)

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72 Investment Boater October 10, 2016 at 6:10 pm

Just recently hit this milestone.

6 years to 100K.
Earned $22,000 – $28,000 for the first 4 of those and have never earned more than $37,000.

Hoping it goes faster from here.

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73 J. Money October 12, 2016 at 10:11 am

Nice work stashing away so much on that income! Hopefully it shuts all the haters up out there who are always bitching and moaning about how they can’t save because they “only” make $50k/year…

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74 MyMoneyDesign October 10, 2016 at 6:12 pm

I remember the first time I found out I had $100,000 in my investments. I thought I was a TOTAL baller!

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75 J. Money October 12, 2016 at 10:10 am

Are you saying you’re not anymore? :)

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76 Paula October 10, 2016 at 7:49 pm

Great post and very timely! I will be at my first $100k by 2020. Maybe sooner if all the stars align! LOL!

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77 Jon @ Be Net Worthy October 10, 2016 at 7:55 pm

I liked ESI’s post as well. It’s cool how the net worth accelerates over time, like a snowball rolling down a hill! Except for yours of course, which seemed to plateau, but hey, like you said, kids will do that to you. I’m sure it will start accelerating again shortly. Once you get that compound interest rolling, there’s no stopping it!

I have over 20 years of Microsoft Money/Quicken files, so I could probably find the answer, but I’m going to guess that I hit my first $100k after around 10 years, 12 years later I was at $1 million. Still going strong…

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78 J. Money October 12, 2016 at 10:10 am

Nice!! I’d love to see a post on grand totals of all the categories or any other trends you find :) Did you see the last couple we’ve featured like that here? So cool!

http://www.budgetsaresexy.com/2016/08/learned-tracking-every-last-penny/

http://www.budgetsaresexy.com/2016/07/how-spreadsheet-changed-my-life/

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79 ZJ Thorne October 10, 2016 at 11:41 pm

This is so encouraging. I’m in the negative net worth category, but it took me 12 months to have $10,000 in my IRA from $0. Small steps getting me to the right starting line.

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80 J. Money October 12, 2016 at 10:05 am

$10,000 in 12 months is incredible!! Especially in the early stages (and when you have negative net worth).

It’ll hopefully/probably get much easier from here :)

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81 Ms. Primal Prosperity October 11, 2016 at 1:04 am

I recently was thinking about this very topic. It took me about 15 years after college to get to the point where I finally decided to make the changes that allowed me to achieve financial freedom within 5 short years. This wasn’t just about the $401k dollar figure in the bank, but also a combination of real estate investing cash flow and minimalism. Now that I have achieved the financial balance where my rental income is paying my living expenses, my financial state seems to be improving at a much quicker rate.

I’ve always said, we make kids learn to solve a quadratic equation, but we don’t give them any training in real world finances and lifestyle design.

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82 J. Money October 12, 2016 at 10:03 am

Hah – aint’ that the truth.

(And congrats :))

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83 Fervent Finance October 11, 2016 at 8:46 am

$100,000 is definitely the hardest. But then compounding starts kicking in and most likely people’s salaries are also going up. Then it’s off to the races.

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84 Graham @ Reverse The Crush October 11, 2016 at 9:33 am

I definitely agree that the first 100k is the hardest for normal folks.
Once you’ve reached that point, you start to have options. You’ve been learning about money and how to allocate it along the way. I’m not at the 100k mark yet. I was a lot closer before taking a “mini-retirement” for a year. However, I’m ready to go back to work now and start building towards it. Thanks for sharing.

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85 J. Money October 12, 2016 at 10:00 am

Yes, but you have an incredible story now I bet!! A whole year to do whatever you want??? Most people wait DECADES to get that. Not sure what you did in all that time, but I’m sure it was worth it :)

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86 SeekingEscape October 11, 2016 at 11:04 am

Unfortunately, I didn’t start closely tracking Net Worth until a bit later in life, mostly with the help of Mint. I was recently pondering over my situation and timeline. I was just short of achieving millionaire status when I was served divorce papers. Reaching (nearly) millionaire status took me about 20 years, despite expensive hobbies, sports cars and world travel. Then, reduced to half in an instant.

The interesting part of my timeline is the last 4 years, since divorce. I lost half of my(our) assets in the divorce, knocking my net worth down to under $500k. Now, a short 4 years later…4 years full of alimony and child support payments, I’m back to just a few dollars short of a million again. So, first million in 20 years, lost half, then gained $500k in 4 years.

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87 J. Money October 12, 2016 at 9:59 am

Dayuuum – that’s awesome man! I mean, horrible that you both had to go through all that and then start over, but wow. Talk about the power of knowledge and how it forever helps you like that!

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88 Your First Million October 11, 2016 at 1:04 pm

I agree with this post. The first anything is the hardest. For people in the everyday middle class who are just starting on their path to wealth building, even the first $10,000 could be the hardest. This is because they are just starting to develop the discipline needed to “pay yourself first” which is very difficult to do if you have not done it before.

Wealth begins to snowball after a while if you keep practicing certain habits. Getting the snowball started is by far the hardest part. It takes a lot of hard work, time and energy to get the ball rolling, but eventually it will start moving on its own.

For example, coming up with your first down payment on a home or rental property might be hard for you and take some time. But once you are able to purchase the property, over time rents will begin to increase (while your payment stays the same) and your property will start to appreciate. All of this is happening on its own and meanwhile you are continuing to pay down your loan on the property which is also accelerating your equity growth.

I bought my first home with just $12,000 (including closing costs) out of my own pocket, utilizing an FHA loan. Three years later my house had appreciated by over $100,000. So basically I turned my $12,000 into $100,000 in just 3 years without doing anything! The first $12,000 was much harder to achieve than the first $100,000.

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89 J. Money October 12, 2016 at 9:57 am

It’s a beautiful thing! Congrats on taking the leap!

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90 Jim Wang October 11, 2016 at 1:17 pm

The first $100,000 is the hardest because it’s usually built entirely on your sweat equity. You are trading your time for money and slowly accumulating assets. Your tax return is probably mostly W2 wages (or 1099). As those assets grow and are invested, then you can start seeing a return that isn’t correlated with the amount of time you work.

My first $100,000 was very nearly 100% fueled by W2 income. The leap up into more was the product of a side business and equity investments.

Is it easier? Physically yes, but there is also an emotional stress involved if much of your wealth is outside of your immediate control. :)

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91 J. Money October 12, 2016 at 9:56 am

All good problems to have at that point :)

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92 Syed October 11, 2016 at 1:39 pm

Building that snowball big enough to push it over the top of the hill is the hard work. Once the snowball keeps getting bigger, you just have to make sure it stays relatively on track.

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93 Fiscally Free October 11, 2016 at 7:04 pm

The biggest issue I see is how long it takes people to have the epiphany. I was lucky my parents taught me how to manage money from a young age, so I never had an epiphany. Saving and investing were normal for me, so I had a huge advantage over a lot of people.

I think it’s incredibly important to teach our children how to be responsible with money. In my opinion, there should be a required high school course on personal finance. That simple step would save a lot of people an incredible amount of grief.

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94 J. Money October 12, 2016 at 9:55 am

Only if they *care enough* to pay attention, and then apply what they’ve learned :(

I’ve realized over 8 years of blogging that everyone pretty much already *knows how* to manage their money, it’s more about figuring out how to get them to ACT on it. Similar to losing weight or stopping smoking, etc. Everyone knows how to do it (eat better, exercise, don’t put a cigarette to your lips) but what it takes for it to be prioritized is so different for everybody. Some just need a taste of it first (like me – once I saw $$ went UP in an account if I didn’t touch it I was sold! (401k)), and others need to hear it a ton of times – and in many different ways – for it to sink in. Which is really good there are so many $$ blogs popping up all over the place – we need all the ideas and stories we can get! :)

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95 Gary October 11, 2016 at 7:28 pm

Thanks for the post and great discussion above!

My Networth is finally out of the negatives this month after graduating 2.5years ago with $55k of debt. I have about $11k in my 401k and hope to hit the $100k mark in 3 years!

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96 J. Money October 12, 2016 at 9:49 am

Hot damn! You’re on fire!

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97 Jenn October 11, 2016 at 9:15 pm

100 – 8 yrs
200 – 5 yrs (incl 2009 – tough time)
300 – 2.5 yrs
400 – 1.5 yrs
500 – 1.75 yrs

For net worth, I use networthiq. It’s fun to project the line to predict the timing of upcoming milestones.

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98 J. Money October 12, 2016 at 9:47 am

I remember that site! Used to be super popular back in the day…

(Well done lowering and lowering the time like that :))

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99 The Grounded Engineer October 12, 2016 at 8:40 am

I got somewhat lucky getting to my first $100k in net worth due to buying my house in 2010 right after the downturn.

$100k – 2 years after graduating
$200k – 2 years
$275k – 1.5 years, where I’m currently at. Also, over the last 1.5 years we paid off $97k in debt!

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100 J. Money October 12, 2016 at 9:25 am

Hot dogs!!

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101 [email protected] October 12, 2016 at 9:35 am

Yes, the first $100,000 is definitely the hardest. It requires determination, discipline and willpower in saving. You need to really work for it. But when you get there, compounding magic of investing takes some of that work off your hands. It really starts to snowball afterwards.

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102 Slinky October 12, 2016 at 4:32 pm

I don’t track my net worth so much anymore. Back of the napkin says I should be up around $175k or so though. I think it gets easier after the first $100k because the QUALITY of your net worth improves. Early on you may be fighting a slow bleed of wealth through debt and depreciating assets. As your net worth grows you probably have fewer of these and the ratio tilts more towards investments and appreciating assets that are working with you rather than against you.

Personally, I’m more excited to see my investment portfolio tip over that six figure mark. I’m sitting at $98k right now. So close!

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103 J. Money October 23, 2016 at 4:02 pm

Great point about the *quality* :)

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104 BH October 12, 2016 at 5:11 pm

I started working in January 2010, started tracking my monthly net worth in June 2012. It took me until June of 2015 (so, about 5.5 years) to break the $100K barrier. Getting married added some juice to the equation and by June 2016 we were past $200K. We probably have an outside shot at hitting $300K by the end of the year, or hopefully by the end of Q1 2017.

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105 Sarah D Hartzog October 18, 2016 at 2:36 pm

I hit my first 100K 8 years and about 10 months after my first hourly job and the next 100K feels like it’s about 4 decades away at the moment. I like much smaller milestones, so the next one I’ve arbitrarily chosen is making that $100K in retirement savings alone.. then I’ll aim for $100K in non-retirement investments… And hopefully I’ll painlessly hit $200K along the way.

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106 J. Money October 23, 2016 at 4:04 pm

That works :)

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107 ERIK P. October 26, 2016 at 1:29 pm

I’ve been following your blog for some time now and just recently my wife and I crossed the $100K mark as you posted this article (great timing).

4.5 years ago I graduated from a Master’s program and I would gather my wife and I had a net worth balance of -$150K (yep, damn student loans). Fast forward to the now and we are at +$100K!!!

And just to reinforce your comments and advice from this article, we started figuring out where our money was going and tried to budget better. We made savings a priority whether it was padding our emergency fund, paying down the student loans, or investing.

I look forward to the next milestones of 200K, 250K, 500K, etc.

Keep on rocking it!

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108 J. Money October 31, 2016 at 10:21 am

Beautiful – congrats! And thanks for reading the blog!

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109 Doug October 28, 2016 at 8:35 pm

Don’t know when I hit 100,000 or 200,000 or 250,000 but tracking it I will know when I hit 300,000
I started at 28 am almost 43 now but there were times where I didn’t put a lot in my trading account or I would be a lot closer now but just gotta look forward

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110 J. Money October 31, 2016 at 10:22 am

That’s it man… Can only control the future, not the past!

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111 Rich November 2, 2016 at 7:15 am

I totally agree that the first $100k is the most important!
It took my wife and I 10 years from college. The next $100k took 2 years.

Love the blog, btw!

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112 J. Money November 9, 2016 at 11:57 am

Thanks Rich!

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113 Shirley Sanchez November 2, 2016 at 9:27 am

According to Personal Capital, the hubby and I are at 101K as of today! Is everyone including equity in their house? I know Personal Capital does factor in – so if home equity counts, we’re there – and if not, we’re well on our way!

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114 Shirley Sanchez November 2, 2016 at 9:28 am

And I’m at 30 years old, hubby at 32.

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115 J. Money November 9, 2016 at 12:02 pm

Nice – congrats!

I used to include equity in my net worths when we owned a home, but I know everyone does it differently. Just depends on why you’re tracking it and what you’re trying to get out of it :)

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116 DragonToes November 2, 2016 at 10:11 am

Hahaha where do I vote for more rap references in FI blogposts please?

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117 J. Money November 9, 2016 at 12:03 pm

They do make it much more fun :)

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118 NinjaPiggy November 2, 2016 at 10:18 am

J. Money,

You’re absolutely right the first $100,000 is the hardest. For many people, including myself, the first $100,000 was made especially difficult because we don’t start at zero. My wife and I had a combined $100k in student loans when we graduated so it was a climb to just get back to $0. But we are now debt free and our investments are growing. This post definitely inspires me to save more!

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119 J. Money November 9, 2016 at 12:05 pm

YES!!! Good point!!

And keep on fighting!! Thanks for reading the blog :)

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120 CoupleofCents November 2, 2016 at 5:15 pm

I only started getting into the FI community about 2 years ago. We had always been careful with our money, not going into debt, buying used cars etc. Once I connected all my accounts on Personal Capital I realized we were already in the $100,000 club. Now, we are in the $300,000 and pushing to $500,000. But things have slowed down as the wife has stopped working to take care of our first child.

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121 J. Money November 9, 2016 at 12:06 pm

Amazing what it looks like when it all comes together, right?? Such a mind shift!

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122 Sarah @tortoisehappy November 2, 2016 at 5:32 pm

It awesome, not just this post, but all the comments too! £100k feels like a dream until you realise it’s reality for so many and can be for you. We made our last mortgage payment in July (woop woop). Our house is worth about £135k but I don’t count that as hitting £100k. Well, we don’t wanna go easy on ourselves!

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123 J. Money November 9, 2016 at 12:07 pm

Even better!

Must feel amazing being mortgage-free :)

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124 Kelly November 2, 2016 at 8:31 pm

I do not know when my net worth with my house hit $100k is I’m sure pretty up and down between 05 and a solid $100k. I did just hit $100k in my investment accounts and that was a big deal. The remember the day I was supposed to hit was Brexit so it was delayed. I got seriously interested in finances in about 2010 and super serious dec 2014 when I started tracking my net worth and investment worth. I think it’s important to collect the data so if/when a bigger longer crash happens I can look back at patterns and find some reassurance.

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125 J. Money November 3, 2016 at 9:47 am

Agreed!

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126 @Guyon_FIRE November 6, 2016 at 2:06 pm

It took me 1 year 11 months to cross the $100,000 threshold. It’s now a snowball effect as well

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127 J. Money November 9, 2016 at 12:09 pm

Wow. You beat all of us in that milestone speed, haha..

When are you going to hit the next $100ks? Every 1 month? :)

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128 @Guyon_FIRE November 12, 2016 at 6:51 pm

Give me a quick follow on Twitter and I will DM you the answer

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129 Nicole November 7, 2016 at 5:18 am

I am so inspired! This is my next years goal!

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130 J. Money November 9, 2016 at 12:12 pm

YAY!!

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131 Nicole October 10, 2017 at 7:57 am

I’ve finally made it!

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132 J. Money October 11, 2017 at 4:59 pm

HEY!!!!

VERY COOL!!!

With two more months to go in the year too – congrats! :)

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133 The Vigilante November 7, 2016 at 1:54 pm

I really love this way of thinking. It highlights the power of your thoughts, your habits, and compound interest like no other explanation. And I’m looking forward to doing my own recap after achieving some more milestones for myself! Expecting to reach ~$100k in retirement assets around the end of 2018 after struggling and hustling since – depending on your definition – either 2004 (first job) or 2013 (graduation from law school). It feels so good to be so close, and to know that on our current trajectory me and Mrs. Vigilante will take WAY less time to reach $200k!

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134 J. Money November 9, 2016 at 12:18 pm

Yeah!!! Keep going – it’s all worth it in the end!! :)

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135 Millennial Millionaire November 28, 2016 at 9:47 pm

It took me almost exactly 9 years to save my first $100K. I started at my current employer in July 2007 and in June 2016 is when I finally broke the $100K mark in my 401(k). It is a great feeling once it finally happens because it is a marathon, not a sprint. But saving for retirement and becoming financially independent is just that. Takes a lot of patience and knowing to stay the course. The good news is I believe I should be at $200,000 within 4 years. So stick with it everyone!

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136 J. Money November 29, 2016 at 6:53 am

Beautiful! keep going!!

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137 Ning December 13, 2016 at 5:46 pm

Such an interesting concept. I just hit about the $100k mark between my 401k and my taxable accounts at Vanguard. It took me about 4 years. Hopefully the next 100k will be faster with the power of compounding growth! Barring a market crash of course

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138 J. Money December 14, 2016 at 9:45 am

Track it and then come back here and let me know! :)

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139 Tracyl5 January 6, 2017 at 6:51 pm

For the first few years after college, I didn’t know anything about saving for retirement, never mind *early* retirement. I did buy a house at the age of 24, and then sold it 5 years later for enough profit to pay off my student loans. But then in December 2007, 10 years after I graduated college, I discovered Boston Gal’s Wallet and started tracking my retirement accounts, which were about $25K then. After that it took me 3 years, 2 months to get to the first $100K (if you count back to when I got my first real job, 13 yrs). Then 3 years, 3 months to get to $200K. I think I’ll reach $300K either this month or next month, which will have taken 2 years, 8/9 months. My personal goal is $600K which is about half what my husband and I will need to retire. I’m hoping to get there in 5 years when I’ll be 47! :o)

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140 J. Money January 15, 2017 at 4:00 pm

Woot woot!

I totally remember Boston Gal’s blog too! one of the first I came across in my own blogging readings back in the day. I started mine in early 2008 after being inspired by all of theirs :)

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141 Golden Horde February 28, 2017 at 8:09 am

I can’t remember when I hit €100,000 (living in Ireland) but I’ve only discovered FIRE recently even though we kind of lived like that all along. Myself and my wife met in college so just kept student lifestyle up even when we bought a house. Any payrise went into paying mortgage off early. Was mortgage free by 36 and now net worth around €500,000 and my wife has a defined benefit pension. It was lucky we had no debt as I ended up having a quadruple heart bypass at 40 and lost my job a year later. Fast forward to 46 and those two events were arguably the best thing that could’ve happened to me. Myself and my wife both work part-time on opposite days so we don’t need childcare for our 3 kids. We’re better off and more relaxed than before. Being debt free afforded us that space to cope with both shocks.

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142 J. Money March 1, 2017 at 11:46 am

Awwww yayyyyy! So happy to hear that!! You scared me there for a second w/ that quadruple bypass (!!) but glad there was/is a happy ending :) Thanks for taking the time to reply!

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143 sr09 March 3, 2017 at 1:38 pm

I’m 26 and started working full-time as soon as I graduated from college in 2012. Not quite there yet, but should hit the $100k mark in the next month or two. For my net worth, I looked at my 401k, Roth IRA, HSA, 529, stocks, and cash. I was one of the few lucky ones to graduate with no debt (thanks scholarships!), so that definitely gave me a head start. Did spend stupidly the first year I earned my “adult paycheck.” Also bought a new car that year. Another dumb move. Should’ve bought a used one. Luckily, I was able to pay it off in three years. But after that, I have been pretty aggressive and putting aside as much money as I can. It kinda sucked because I had to be that lame person who said no to going out every weekend, eating out a couple times a week, etc….but hey, sacrifices. Not going to lie, I’m super pumped to hit $100k!! Have been patiently waiting. *Insert crying, happy face emoji*

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144 J. Money March 5, 2017 at 2:00 pm

Beautiful! Def. requires some sacrificing, but hopefully you’ve figured out by now that you can still enjoy life without spending gobs of money :) Early congrats into the $100k club!

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145 Jack March 31, 2017 at 3:48 pm

Arrggh, I wish I would have started tracking sooner in my journey. I started keeping records back in 2005 when I had a net worth of $289,000. But here’s how it went from there:

$289,000 – 9 years (Approximately since I started my career)
$396,000 – 9 months
$531,000 – 6 years (market meltdown)
$762,000 – 1 year, 3 months
$954,000 – 1 year, 4 months
$1.071,000 – 1 year, 3 months
$1,171,000 – 4 months
$1,279,635 – 5 months
$1,362,000 – 3 months

If only this would keep up. The last few figures have all happened in 2016. Between saving a ton and seeing large market returns, the number really climbed!

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146 J. Money April 1, 2017 at 6:07 am

Daaaaaang, you’re killing it, man. Hard solid evidence right there on how wealth speeds up once you get going! Nicely done!

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147 Andrea May 24, 2017 at 10:18 am

graduated June 2011 – $-75k networth (student loans!)
February 2014 (2 yr/ 8 mo later) – $0k networth!
(predicted) August 2017 – $100k networth

from $0 networth, took 3 years, 6 months
from graduating college, took 6 years, 2 months
– includes 9 months no income and 3 months/$10,000 of certificate program that helped me finally get a job again, so if we cut out 9 months of no income (and therefore no growth in networth), I could theoretically see that I made it in less than 6 years!

Now that I have a job again, I’m going to be able to save about $50,000/year (I live super frugally, but also make a good bit of money now), and will hit the second 100k in 2 years time. At this point, though, I will buy a house (August 2018 baby!), which will result in me being a little cash poor for a while.

Looking to see about reaching retirement goals of 50 years old (currently 26 years old), but let me see how this all works out first!

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148 J. Money May 28, 2017 at 3:32 pm

“I’m going to be able to save about $50,000/year”

That’s pretty damn impressive!

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149 Brian August 29, 2017 at 12:55 pm

I backed myself into my first 100k of net worth before I ever tracked it by simply being terrified of debt. I spent my first 25yrs of life avoiding every type of debt imagininable including student loans. About a year ago I did the math for the first time and realized we had a net worth of just south of 100k. We’re already halfway there but to me the second 100k is harder because I was unaware of the first!

After reaching 200k, the goal is to sell a side hustle (budding landscaping business) and move into rental realestate on the side to take some of the direct labor out of the equation and spend more time with my son.

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150 J. Money August 29, 2017 at 2:33 pm

Interesting! I guess we’ll have to see what happens in the $200k –> $300k jump for you then to see if it gets easier :)

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