Three years ago, I made a deal with myself: I wanted to have $100,000 saved at 25, but I didn’t mind if it didn’t happen until the day before my 26th birthday.
One of my biggest priorities in life has always been to reach financial independence — I owe much of that to my parents, who made sure I had a strong financial education at a young age. For the past three years, I’ve never made more than $80,000 pre-tax. And about a year ago, I reviewed my rate of savings and investments, and realized that if I pushed towards it, I could save $100,000. And in September of 2019, I successfully hit my goal of saving $100K at 25.
I want to acknowledge that privilege is a key part of my story. I was able to graduate college without any debt – I earned tens of thousands in merit scholarships and worked three on-campus jobs. My parents were also able to financially contribute, but we paid for college collaboratively. I know I wouldn’t have hit my $100K this quickly if I had student debt.
I’ve been fortunate. But it also takes a lot of hard work, sacrifice, and responsibility to save and maximize your earnings. Feeling motivated and knowing that I’ll be prepared for whatever life throws my way fuels my drive to keep making smart financial decisions.
Regardless of your current financial situation, you too can tweak these tips to accomplish your own savings goals.
Here’s how I saved $100K:
This kick-started my journey towards six figures. In addition to saving over 20 percent of my 9-5 salary, I was able to successfully earn tens of thousands side hustling that I could put immediately into savings. I was able to establish both a SEP IRA and a fully-funded emergency fund with my earnings (a SEP IRA is a retirement account, while an emergency fund should be your #1 financial priority to give yourself financial security).
And then I turned my successful side hustle into my full-time business as a money speaker and coach for women (fighting the patriarchy through financial education!).
I started investing early
Knowing that compound interest is so important, I wanted to start investing early to have my money work for me. Once I started my first corporate job, I opened my first Roth IRA (an independent retirement account.) Starting to save for retirement at age 22, I was able to max out my Roth each year and also contribute to a SEP IRA and a non-retirement investment account. My first job out of school had a 401(k), but you couldn’t contribute until you were there at least a year. Knowing I wasn’t planning on staying long — I was at that job for a year and a few months — I opened a Roth 401(k) and then rolled my earnings to my Roth IRA. (Here’s an in-depth explainer of different retirement account options.)
If you don’t feel confident enough to start investing on your own, one of the easiest ways to get started is by using a robo advisor like Ellevest — a women-founded, women-focused investing platform.
I negotiated salary offers and raises
Negotiating should be a collaboration, not a confrontation. When I was offered my first social media side-gig, I negotiated over $10k more than they offered. And after achieving a 20 percent bump at my first 9-5, I negotiated $20k more than what was offered at my next job. And $10k more at the next job.
Start by researching your market rate using a tool like Payscale. Knowing your market value is the best way to know if you’re being underpaid (spoiler alert: you probably are).
I’ve automated my savings
PAY YOURSELF FIRST, Y’ALL! Automating your money not only makes your life easier, but it makes you feel like the percentage you’re saving just doesn’t exist. At my savings peak, I had 26 percent of my take-home pay automatically deposited into a high-yield savings account. This “set it and forget it” level of financial freedom was something I worked hard for — through money diarying, budgeting, and conscious spending.
Log in to your payroll platform at work, and set up an automatic transfer to your savings. You can start with just a few percentage points, and then increase it over time.
Inspired by my own journey, I wanted to help women everywhere to have that same feeling of confidence that financial education gives — and get information from someone who isn’t an old, rich white dude. As a money speaker and coach, I run Her First $100K, a money and career platform for women to fight the patriarchy through financial education.
It’s possible to achieve your first $100K — whether that’s debt paid off, earned, saved, invested, or something else. With intentional strategies and focus, you’ve got this!