So it’s 2003, we were 23 years old and we just received our University degrees. My girlfriend (now wife) and I had about $40k in student loan debt, a brand new $25k car loan (shiver), and a brand new $100k mortgage to boot. In addition, I was planning on buying an engagement ring in the near future. To top it all off, we didn’t even have spectacular starting salaries with a combined income of $85000/year. OK Ok, this was a pretty good starting point but well behind the curve compared to our classmates starting in the same fields.
I guess some of you are wondering how we’ve built our net worth to a respectable size at a young age (I’m 27) with all that debt at graduation (negative net worth). No, we’re not doctors or lawyers, and we surely didn’t have an inheritance to kick start us. The secret, I believe, is in the spending and work ethic that I developed at a very young age. I started a part time job while I was in Junior High school and continued throughout University. Although I did party on occasion, I didn’t waste all my money on partying and booze like most of my friends did. :) I was a super saver which was a trait I developed from my parents. I saved most of my income (salary/gst cheques etc) which went into a bank account or a mutual fund. Most of my University tuition was covered by my work terms that went along with my university program, the student debt was from my wifes degree (paid off in late 2005).
As our careers advanced over the last few years, our combined salaries have raised to around the $105k/year mark (still behind the curve). We continue to live the same lifestyle as when we were making $85k so a lot more goes into savings. I would estimate that we save around 15%-20% of our gross income. Our savings rate may decrease in the near future as we plan to have kids and perhaps move to a bigger home. The savings thus far has gone towards my wifes pension (
not included in the net worth statement), my RRSP, my non-registered investment account, and a high interest savings account (for emergencies etc).
How do we save so much? The secret is “Paying Yourself First“. This concept was first introduced to me by the book “The Wealthy Barber” when I read it back in high school. I’m sure most of you have heard of this before, but this simple technique is incredibly powerful. As the concept explains, you put a portion of your income into a savings account automatically. When I say automatically, you either program your online bank account to do an automatic electronic transfer on payday, or get your employer to do an automatic transfer out of your paycheck. You would be surprised how fast your savings nest egg can grow, I know that I am every time that I review my savings.
Another saving technique that works exceptionally well is separating your “needs” and your “wants”. As the Wealthy Barber says, if you can only buy what you “need” and not what you “want”, you will come out ahead. We try to use this technique daily.
Since graduating from University, stock market investing has peaked my interest and has taken up most of my spare time. I’ve learned to do basic stock analysis, both fundamental/value and technical. Stock investing is out of the scope of this post but I have no doubt that I will be posting about it often.
For those young readers out there who dream about financial freedom (like I did), I hope that some of the information from this blog can help you get started. It’s all about setting a goal and committing to it. We still have a long way to go before we get to financial freedom, but I believe that we’re well on our way.