i saved 300k by 30! These 5 surprisingly easy things helped me get there!
What I did to take back control of my finances on my journey to financial freedom
I recently crossed the $300k net worth mark at age 30, having been in debt only a few short years ago.
Reading this back is crazy! I know I’ve shared that number before but this still blows my mind. $300k is a major milestone for me, one third of the way to a million (current net worth is here).
The reason I am sharing this? Not to brag or big up myself, but to show it is possible for everyone – no matter what stage of life you are in. Everyone can start and work towards achieving financial freedom.
I am going to share the key areas and tips that worked for me to reach this milestone and what I am continuing to do to reach my FIRE goal (financial independence retirement early goal). These will work for you too!
There have been some major changes in my life recently (career, location etc.) that I will share in my next post so make sure to sign up to my newsletter where you will be notified each time I post to help you on your own journey.
Being part of a like-minded community is one key element of staying on track to achieving financial freedom.
So let’s get into it!
Top 3 Tips I followed to reach over $300k in savings by age 30
1) I sold my car and switched to cycling and walking
As you may know, or maybe not know in my case – a new vehicle loses 20% of its value in just the first year.
20%!! The story gets worse from there – over the next 4 years that vehicle will continue to lose another 30%.
The average price of a new car is now at $41,000, that means if you buy a new car you will lose more than $20,000 to depreciation over the first few years after purchasing! For an item that most people buy on financing/credit line, this amount will majorly impact your financial freedom journey.
This is before ever factoring in what it takes to actually keep a car running which includes ongoing maintenance costs.
In fact the annual cost of new car ownership increased by 5% this year to $7,700 USD ( or $9,800 CAD). Meaning the amount of money on average you are sinking into just running the car is increasing every year to cover the basics such as:
- Fuel costs
- Maintenance, repair and tire costs
- Insurance costs
- Licensing, registration and taxes
This amount is only going to increase, especially with the current and projected inflation rates – which will increase the cost of all goods and services you purchase.
When seeing these numbers, I immediately sold my car and switched to cycling and walking. If you have the option to do this it’s a no-brainer!
You could instead invest that upfront cost and ongoing annual costs into income generating assets such as the stock market or real estate.
Investing 41,000 (average price of a new car) plus the annual costs of $7,700 into the stock market every year. After 25 years that amount will have grown to $623,770 assuming a conservative inflation adjusted return of 6%.
Making this one change can set you on your way to achieving financial freedom, and is one of the key tips I am following that has helped me reach my current net worth.
I now cycle and/or walk everywhere, which has the above financial benefits but also I physically feel better! Try it, you may realize you never needed a car in the first place.
I know this isn’t an option for everyone, so if a car is a must have, at least make sure to buy a used one (3-5 years old is the sweet spot) to avoid the massive depreciation that occurs in the first few years of a new car. Also stick with brands that hold their value well such as Honda or Land Rover.
2) I moved city with the same job
I moved from my home town of Dublin, Ireland to Toronto, Canada and have since moved again to the beautiful city of Vancouver!
I stayed in the exact same job position and industry but only moved location back in 2019. Due to the location change alone I immediately received a 40% salary increase because of this move. I went from making $90,000 CAD to over $150,000 CAD in one swoop.
Yes you heard that correct – no change in job responsibility or industry, purely location!
So make sure, if it is an option for your personal circumstance, to consider relocating to a city which pays more (substantially more in some cases) for the same job you are already in.
I invested or saved all of this surplus income, with the occasional splurge on drunken weekends away (I am Irish after all and there are stereotypes to live up to!).
Many financial “gurus” out there will describe 100 ways of saving every cent and dollar, but one sure way to accelerate your financial independence is by focusing on increasing your income.
My advice if you are based in a smaller town, city or country, explore the opportunity of relocating – it pays.
This list will be a good starting point as noted in CNBC’s People who live in these cities earn the highest salaries in the world, research.
The 10 highest paying cities ($ USD)
- San Francisco, U.S.
Monthly salary: $6,526
- Zurich, Switzerland
Monthly salary: $5,896
- New York, U.S.
Monthly salary: $4,612
- Boston, U.S.
Monthly salary: $4,288
- Chicago, U.S.
Monthly salary: $4,062
- Sydney, Australia
Monthly salary: $3,599
- Oslo, Norway
Monthly salary: $3,246
- Copenhagen, Denmark
Monthly salary: $3,190
- Melbourne, Australia
Monthly salary: $3,181
- London, U.K.
Monthly salary: $2,956
3) I shared a 680-square-foot apartment with my partner
For most of my twenties, I have been living in a 700-square-foot apartment. I downsized because I really didn’t need the extra space.
But we (my partner and I) eventually realized that we didn’t need all the space we had in our old place, most of our time was spent flaking out in the living room or attempting to cook in the kitchen.
So when I moved across the Atlantic to downtown Toronto, we agreed to downsize to a 700-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment.
More space would have been nice, especially during lockdown but we made it work and looking back so glad we did. Saving on average $500 dollars per month on rent from downsizing, again all of which I flowed through to my brokerage account.
Our rent went from $2,400 per month to $1,900 dollars. That’s over a 20% reduction, and really not giving up that much in return.
Who needs a den in your twenties right?
Sacrifice when you are young in college and your twenties so when you have a family and start adulting you are well on your way to financial freedom.
4) Track every expense you have, at least for a month
When I finished university back in 2013 I had a negative net worth after drawing on bank loans to keep me afloat and fuel a college lifestyle.
I started to get serious about my finances when I realized i was living beyond my means and heavily in debt.
Up to that point I spent recklessly, often too afraid to check my bank balance after a weekend of fun or a heavy night out.
I knew I needed a change. So I sat down and committed to tracking my expenses for one month to understand what I spent all my money.
One tip you can follow to make this easier, is shift all your spending to your credit card and just analyze your monthly statement (most banks automatically categorize these for you). You can export straight into excel and really get a sense of what you spend your money on. Plus shifting to a credit card will increase your credit score (provided you pay off every month) and you can earn cash back rewards and travel points to get your next holiday for free.
I like to categorize my spending into non-discretionary (e.g. rent, utilities, insurance, food) and discretionary (nights out, ubers, travelling etc.).
After doing this for a month – I realized I spent more than 50% of my income on discretionary entertainment. Things I really didn’t need.
That was the lightbulb moment, and the key reason I was falling into debt every month.
From then on I cut down on this bucket of spending and once I actually started tracking my spending I ended up with a surplus of cash every month which I saved.
I now aim to actually save above 70% of in income every month. The commonly recommended figure of saving 20-30% of your income in my opinion is too low, if you want to accelerate your financial freedom journey aim higher. If it’s not painful you are not saving enough!
Ignorance is bliss, but is also dangerous when it comes to your own finances. Take the time to sit down and really understand what you are spending your hard earned money on every month.
Ask yourself a simple question for each item/service:
Do I really need this or is it just a nice to have that I can replace with something free?
5) Start investing for the long term!
I’ve posted many articles about how to invest, the basics for beginners and the pitfalls to avoid. Check them out here.
These articles will help you get started: Do your research first!
Of my current net worth roughly about 30% of it is due to stock market gains such as a stocks share price increasing or reinvesting dividend and REIT payouts.
The sooner you start, your future self will thank you.
I follow a conservative approach covering the below basics.
If you haven’t already max out your retirement accounts (e.g. Roth IRA, 401K, TFSA, RRSP) depending on your location.
Next invest in broad based low cost ETF’s and Index funds. Start generating some immediate passive income – reinvest it all.
If you want exposure to the Real Estate market invest in some REIT’s. I like HOM.U – a REIT that invests in heartland America (i.e. Texas). I see huge growth here.
Keep it simple – don’t try and stock pick or time the market, it rarely works in the long term especially for a beginner. Follow the tried and tested approach.
*As always, I am not an expert or financial advisor, so nothing on this website should be considered financial advice. These are just my opinions, everyone is different. Always do your own research and have your own independent thought process.
Let me know in the comments what other questions you have when it comes to how to invest for beginners?
Make sure to sign up to my newsletter. I provide valuable posts that you can put into practice. While also following along on my journey to financial freedom by age 35. I keep my net worth updated here.
I am, and will continue to practice what I preach!
Leave a comment or contact me if you would like to get in touch and update me on your progress towards your goals.
Catch you soon,