In my 30’s and worth a million bucks – Can it be?
I feel like every time I turn around I see another article about how a 30-something has retired and is traveling the world with millions in the bank. And somehow they did it while making $50K/yr.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t buy it. The numbers never add up. What I do believe is with a little knowledge, some planning, and SMALL sacrifices, people can dramatically improve their financial health and do what I call, fatten their Stakk (build their wealth)…probably a lot faster than they think.
Let me tell you my story…
First, call me Buz! I consider myself a normal “30-something”. I married a beautiful musician who is also building a business as a health coach. I live in the metro area of a major city and drive a late model vehicle. I like to travel and spend more time on my iPhone than I care to admit. I have worked for fortune 500 companies in several industries and a few smaller shops too. Most often, I found that I was going crazy just a few months into each new job and frequently couldn’t stand my manager.
My wife and I took student loans to complete our studies, we have a few credit cards, shop at Whole Foods, and find that Amazon packages are being delivered to our door at an increasing rate. We have moved several times for various reasons and are just now getting settled since our last relocation.
So, what! Probably sounds about normal…but wait!
Several years back, I asked myself if I were happy with my career, my financial situation and where I thought I was headed – the answer was, “no, this blows!”. By this time, I had already spent a few years working for Merrill Lynch as a Financial Advisor (first gig out of undergrad) so I knew the basics of building wealth, financial planning, blah, blah, blah. For a load of reasons, I decided that Merrill was not the place for me and left never making more than about $40K/year.
Not the start I had hoped for! However, something clicked for me during that time; if I wasn’t careful, I was going to get caught in a trap of huge debt, little to no real wealth and the reality of having to work until 70. I couldn’t seem to find the job of my dreams, heck, what would that even look like? I decided then, that if I had to be “miserable” I needed to make as much money as possible to offset a crap job. My answer was B-school (not Stanford or MIT but a decent top 30 school). I came out doubling my salary but wound up doing another job that did not light my rocket. I did however, learn the value of knowledge and change.
This is where I started to figure things out. I found every opportunity to strengthen my financial health. By no means was cash raining down from the heavens, but I started doing things to increase the prospects of building wealth. I launched a freelance consulting business (I will talk more about this another time) and simultaneously started an intense job search. I did not care about industry or the location as long as I could perform the job. By the way, this DOES NOT MEAN you have to have all of the skills requested. It means you have to be capable of learning what is necessary to deliver quality results – this is important during your search. Eventually I landed a gig with a 27% increase in pay and the prospects of international opportunities. I took it, for two reasons, more money immediately and significant cultural and business experiences that would likely equate to even more money later (so technically one reason – money).
During this time, we maintained our life style, started saving and paying down our student loans. It was not quick, but in a couple of years our debt was shirking, my 401K had grown a bit and we had a decent “rainy day” fund. I began searching for another opportunity and ended up moving to another state for more money and responsibility. We bought a dumpy house in a decent neighborhood and immediately started planning our next move. Not long after, I took a chance and chased an opportunity in Africa! Every career decision since has been focused on “Stakking” as much wealth as possible.
Fast forward to now – between my 401K, a couple of brokerage accounts I tinker with, a few rental properties we picked up along the way, and some savings, our net worth is well over $1 million.
What is the point to all of this? Well, I am not launching into retirement anytime soon, but when people say it is impossible for those of us in our 20’s and 30’s to build significant wealth, I say they are flat wrong. Did we sacrifice a little, sure. Did things always go as planned, no, it rarely does. But one thing was consistent – we set goals, kept our options open, took a few chances, and stuck to it. Wealth does not skyrocket overnight, but once on track, it builds rapidly.
That is the purpose of FatStakk -to share what has worked for me, my clients, and in turn, learn what has worked for you. So, Fatties, Welcome to FatStakk.com!!!