How I Tripled My Net Worth In 2 Years
Learn how one man turned a little into a lot in a very short span of time.
Before I started pursuing FIRE, I was the kind of person that had the entirety of my life savings in my checking account. I was already pretty good at saving money, but I was completely ignorant when it came to investing or trying to grow my nest egg.
When it came to retirement accounts and investment strategies I was feeling very behind. I made the decision that I was going to do everything that I could in order to get caught up in a hurry.
This is how I did it.
I stopped making excuses
I had a million excuses as to why I wasn’t in good financial shape. School didn’t teach me how to manage my finances, and I was too busy to learn on my own. Besides, I don’t belong to the elite part of society that knows about investing—that’s just for people who were born rich, right?
The moment that I decided I needed to take control of my finances, I let go of all of the excuses. Even if I had a legitimate gripe, I stopped focusing on anything that was beyond my control, and got laser focused on what I could control. It turned out that I was in control of a lot more than I had originally thought.
I was living in a major metropolitan area that’s notorious for being outrageously expensive. The price of real estate was unattainable for me and the cost of renting wasn’t much better.
Furthermore, the job market was tough because there was so much competition in the area. Additionally, with traffic, it could take up to an hour each way to commute to the part of town where the business district was located. That commute was really taxing on my car, my gas budget, and my morale.
After careful consideration, I decided to pack up and move to a part of the country with less taxes, less population density, less traffic, and less stress. I would tell you where—but I don’t want it to be any more crowded than it already is.
After the move, I was able to rent a house instead of a cramped apartment and my monthly rent costs actually went down considerably even though the square footage I was leasing was nearly double what I was renting before. Those savings are now going directly into a high yield savings account intended to buy a house, hopefully some day soon. This was a big step, but it was the first and most important step of my journey to date.
I found a new job
Within a few months of being in a new area, I realized that my talent/experience wasn’t as common because there wasn’t as many people competing for the same jobs. I knew that I was making less than the market rate—but I didn’t have a lot of options.
I was able to secure a new job that would increase my annual salary by 30% and that didn’t even include the package of amazing benefits the new employer offered. I had great health insurance for the first time in my life, more vacation time than I had ever had, and a generous bonus structure that kept a carrot dangled in front of my nose.
Recommended reading: Common interview questions (and how to answer them) and how to write a killer resume
I asked for a raise
After a little over a year at my new job where I was already making 30% more than I had been in my previous role, it was time to ask for a raise. I made my case to my boss as to why I thought I deserved a raise—focusing on the new responsibilities I had taken over since starting, as well as the training and skills I had developed on my own time. This lead to a promotion that came with a sizable pay bump that put my salary close to 50% more than what I had been making just 13 months previous.
I fully recognize that asking for a raise is an anxiety-producing notion for a lot of people, and it was for me early on in my career as well. I avoided it for so many years and as a result I was a bitter, unmotivated, poorly paid employee.
When I finally decided that I was going to rip the band-aid off and strategically ask for a raise, my life changed permanently and exponentially for the better. If you’re not getting what you think you’re worth, it’s unlikely that you’re going to do the best job that you can. So if you think about it—you’re actually doing your employer a favor by calmly communicating what you want and why you think you deserve it.
Recommended reading: How to ask for a raise: 9 steps for making more money
I eliminated debt
I knew that if I wanted to accelerate my ability to put money away, I would need to eliminate debt.
I focused all of my discretionary income on paying off debts, and I utilized Dave Ramsey's snowball method. I know that Dave Ramsey is a controversial figure in the personal finance community, so say what you will about him—but I found the snowball method to be very effective.
To summarize the snowball method, you start paying as much as you can toward your debt that has the highest interest rate—and then you make minimum payments toward the rest of your debts.
I started a side business
I thoroughly enjoy writing and marketing, so I decided to start a side hustle as a freelance writer and marketing consultant. Although I don’t make a ton of money this way, I make about 8% of my annual salary, which is more than enough to pay for a very nice vacation or another luxury that I might not be willing to pay for out of pocket if the funds didn’t come from side hustling.
There’s countless ways to make money by starting a side hustle. In my experience the number one thing that holds people back from side hustling is a desire for perfection. People tend to wait to launch until everything is just right.
I’m sure you’ve heard the Winston Churchill adage that “Perfection is the enemy of progress”. You may have also heard the famous quote from LinkedIn’s founder, Reid Hoffman, “If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late”.
If you wait until the stars align and everything is perfect…you might be waiting for a while. I recommend diving in head first, embracing mistakes and figuring things out on the fly.
Recommended reading: 20 of the best side hustle apps for making extra money
I started budgeting
Calling me disorganized would’ve been an understatement. I didn’t know how much I was spending, or what I was spending it on, but I did know that I wasn’t happy with what I had left over at the end of each month.
I used to think that budgets were for squares. I thought that only librarians and people who yell at skateboarders have budgets. But the more I tracked my spending, the better I understood how wasteful I was being, and the easier it was to save.
Budgeting doesn’t have to be like a diet where you starve yourself. It’s about setting financial goals so that you can afford everything that you need, and hopefully some of the things you want.
Recommended reading: You Need a Budget review: is it the best budgeting app?
I learned by immersion
I had always wanted to learn about investing and the stock market, but each time I bought a book or read an article it felt like I was reading a different language. I found myself rereading the same sentence several times and still not being able to understand what it was trying to convey.
I started following some personal finance “influencers” on social media, which led me to following a number of personal finance blogs. By immersing myself in the online personal finance community, I was able to start picking up the lingo quickly and before I knew it I was well versed in the finer points of personal finance and began investing successfully.
A lot of the popular personal finance bloggers are just everyday people who figured things out on their own, which puts them in a great position to explain complex topics in more relatable terms than you might find elsewhere.
Recommended reading: Our list of the best personal finance blogs
A final note on increasing net worth
I recognize that the path I took might not be right for everyone. The key for me was assessing my weak points, making a plan to address them, and then executing that plan at full speed. None of the steps I took are top secret wealth building hacks—but they were effective because I followed through with them. I hope you’ve found my story useful and can use it to your advantage.