How to Increase Your Net Worth by $800,000 in 8 Years

How to Increase Your Net Worth by $700,000 in 7 Years

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One fall night in 2010, my wife Nicole and I were watching the Suze Orman Show. (Yes, I used to DVR it). There was this fun segment where someone would call in and Suze would analyze that person’s financial health and give them a grade. It was called How Am I Doing?

One term that we kept seeing over and over again on this segment was “Net Worth”. Since we were personal finance newbies, we had no idea what this meant. Nicole and I were making a combined six-figure income together so we figured our net worth must be HUGE.

After the show was over, we decided to see how rich we really were. There was no doubt in our mind that we’d be better off than most of the jokers that call in to the show and get an “F” grade from Suze!


We walked upstairs and started to write down all of our numbers on a big white board. By separating our “assets” (what we owned) and our liabilities (what we owed) into two big columns, we started to discover that we weren’t rich.

We were kinda broke.

Although we were making a solid income together, our liabilities were much higher than our assets.

Here is a snapshot of what our numbers looked like back in 2010 (rounded educated guesstimates based on me losing some of our data along the way):  

September 2010 - Hill Family Net Worth

There’s no way were going to get an “A” grade on Suze’s show with a $50,000 net worth!

This epiphany moment was just the jolt of reality we needed to start making progress on our finances. Our short-term goal was to get this net worth number in positive territory ASAP!

It was time for us to make a change. Here’s what we did to increase our net worth by $700,000 in 7 years. 

Couple standing next to each other in field

Track Your Net Worth

Net Worth Total (September 2010) = -$50,000

Nicole and I quickly realized that we couldn’t improve our financial situation if we weren’t tracking our net worth. This number was going to be the barometer for our future financial success.

We took all of the numbers off of our white board and inserted them into an excel spreadsheet. From that point on, we updated our asset and liability totals monthly to track our progress. Even just seeing the numbers helped!

(Side Note:  Personal Capital wasn’t around back then, but if it was, it would have made the whole net worth tracking process a lot easier. It’s free and it automatically updates your net worth by synching up your accounts. We use it now and love it.)

Live on a Monthly Budget

Net Worth Total (January 2011) = -$35,000

January 2011 - Hill Family Net Worth

Another monthly habit Nicole and I adopted around this time was living on a budget. We got the idea after reading Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover. He talked about the importance of living on a zero-based budget and giving every dollar an assignment.

Getting on the same financial page with Nicole before each month began was really important for us as we started our marriage.

Each month, we’d do the following:

  • Review our spending, saving and debt balances
  • Plan out next month’s budget
  • Discuss our financial dreams and goals to ensure we’re headed down a path we’re both excited about

We eventually learned about a budgeting tool called Mint that automated the budgeting process much like Personal Capital did for our net worth tracking. This tool saved us a ton of time and it was free too!

(Side Note:  If you’re more into spreadsheets than online systems, Tiller is an excellent option. You get the benefits of automation and the flexibility of spreadsheets in one easy budgeting tool.)

Eliminate Your Consumer Debt

Net Worth Total (September 2011) = $20,000

September 2011 - Hill Family Net Worth

After being inspired by Dave Ramsey’s debt crushing ways, we decided that becoming consumer debt free would be an excellent way to increase our net worth.

For me, I really hated having student loans and wanted them gone as soon as possible. My 6.8% interest rate did not help the process either. (Debt refinancing services like Credible would have been huge for me back then!)

For Nicole, she loved her 2008 Audi A4 and thought it would be incredible to own it outright with no payments.

Through our monthly budget get togethers, we discovered we could eliminate both of these debts before the end of year. This would require us to essentially live on my income and use Nicole’s to pay off the debt.

The plan worked! We were consumer debt free by September 2011 and we were in positive net worth territory to boot.

After making the final payment on Nicole’s car, we took a joy ride in her paid for Audi A4 on a beautiful fall night in Michigan.

Save 50% of Your Income

Net Worth Total (January 2012) = $45,000

Hill Family Net Worth

At this point in our marriage, we were a month away from having our first child. Our financial standing was looking pretty solid. Zoey would be born into a debt free family and that made us proud.

We liked our current home, but we started thinking about our family growing from 2 to 3 (to eventually 4). Getting into a good school system was very important for us. That being said, we knew that homes in our desired school district were expensive!

Our new goal became saving up as much money as possible for a big down payment on our dream home. Our plan was to save 50% of our income and live on the other 50%.

Increase Your Income

Net Worth Total (February 2013) = $210,000

January 2013 - Hill Family Net Worth

Luckily, 2012 was an outstanding year for Nicole and I income wise. We were both working full-time at our jobs and brought in the most money we’ve ever made as a couple together in one year.

I had a commission-based sales job and I achieved the company record for most annual revenue brought in on our most important account (it was a small company).

Highlights of what we did with our money:

  • Saved over $100,000 cash

  • Updated my bachelor pad into a family home

  • Bought my first car with cash

Get a 15-Year Mortgage

Net Worth Total (January 2014) = $359,000

January 2014 - Hill Family Net Worth

When we finally bought our dream home, the cash savings we amassed allowed us to put down 45%. This cut our new mortgage principal by a sizable amount immediately.

Our plan was to pay off this mortgage in 5 years!

We went with a 15-year mortgage through LendingTree and got a super-low 3% fixed rate. This helped us to put more toward the principal balance each month and push toward our goal of complete debt freedom by 2018.

Be Flexible Because Life Happens

Net Worth Total (January 2015) = $385,000

January 2015 - Hill Family Net Worth

Our our second child (Calvin) came into our lives, we decided it was best to have Nicole stay at home and raise our two kids. Since we’d been essentially living on one income for quite a while at this point, it wasn’t that big of a life shocker for us.

Our Son is Born
Welcome to the World Calvin!

This income change did slow our net worth growth quite a bit, but honestly those previous few years were unicorns! We’re just happy we saved like we did so that Nicole could spend more time with our kids. It was one of the best decisions we ever made as a family.

Max Your Retirement Savings

Net Worth Total (January 2017) = $547,000

January 2017 - Hill Family Net Worth

Starting in 2016, we decided that maxing out all three our retirement accounts (401k, Andy’s Roth IRA and Nicole’s Roth IRA) was a smart move. My workplace 401k had been maxed since 2013, but we had not been doing the same for our Roths.

In addition to clobbering our mortgage principal, this tax advantaged plan helped us break the half million mark in our net worth journey! By this time, we were fully into Personal Capital to help us track our progress. It became quite addicting actually.

Pay Off Your Mortgage Early

Net Worth Total (February 2018) = $679,000

February 2018 - Hill Family Net Worth

On November 21, 2017, we paid off our 15-year mortgage in just under 4 years. One year ahead of schedule!

Nicole, Zoey, Calvin and I had an epic mortgage freedom celebration together that we’ll never forget. We wanted our kids to remember this important moment in our lives so they too could be inspired to live without debt in their lives.

$400,000 Home Paid Off in Less Than 4 Years
Mortgage Freedom!

Without a mortgage, our net worth has been increased steadily. The incredible stock market surge in 2017 definitely helped as well!

Save For First Rental Property

Net Worth Total (January 2019) = $764,000

Net Worth Snapshot

Although 2018 saw an overall drop in the stock market, we weathered the storm and kept up a high savings rate. Most of our extra money went into a savings account to build up enough money to buy our first rental property. 

We also did fun things like update our home and go on some epic family vacations

Plan For the Future

We’ve come a long way since our -$50,000 net worth in 2010. I’m so proud of the hard work that Nicole and I put in along the way. Without my wife’s partnership, none of this would have been possible.

Now that we’re completely debt free, the only way for our net worth to grow is to continue building up our assets. At this point in our family’s journey, we feel the best way to do this is by diversifying our income.

Side Business

A couple years ago, I started a weekly podcast where I interview self-made millionaires and personal finance experts to help my audience learn from their successes. And I’m learning a lot too!

Not only am I learning, I’m earning as well. Last year I made $13,000 from my little side hustle! I hope to get this to $30,000 this year. 

Andy Interviewing Author Erin Lowry
Interviewing Author Erin Lowry

Rental Real Estate

We’re planning on buying our first rental property this year. After speaking with real estate experts on my podcast, I’m getting a solid understanding of how we’ll get our start. Considering we’ve gone down the debt free path so far, we’re planning on buying our first rental in cash. It’ll take some time, but we love the stress free perks that come with no debt.

As we’re closing in on a $1,000,000 net worth in the next few years, my first thought is … it’s just a number. On the surface, it really doesn’t mean anything.

But … when you peel back the layers and find out what’s inside, that’s when you discover what our net worth is made of. Our home, our cars, our retirement savings and our emergency savings are all things that bring our family joy. These assets will allow us to live happy, healthy and purposeful lives.

With some hard work and a little luck, our kids will see our example and continue to strengthen this family tree of ours in the future.

Where are you in your net worth journey?

How else could we be increasing our net worth?

Please let me know in the comments below!

Author: Andy Hill

Andy Hill is the host of the Marriage, Kids and Money Podcast which focuses on helping young families build wealth. This 5-star rated podcast was nominated as "Best New Personal Finance Podcast" by Plutus. Andy's advice and personal finance experience have been featured in major media outlets like Business Insider, MarketWatch and NBC News.

30 thoughts on “How to Increase Your Net Worth by $800,000 in 8 Years”

  1. Great post, Andy! You have a really inspiring story. I’m just a little older than you, but you’ve really set your family up for future financial security at a young age. Really awesome!

  2. Suze catches a lot of flack but I was behind her checking into the same hotel once, she was keynoting whatever event I was at. The desk clerk did not recognize her and was totally ignoring her and treating her in a dismissive manner. I watched thinking I would see the stereotypical celebrity meltdown but Suze was sweet as an angel and amazingly patient. She was kind and courteous in a situation where nobody was watching, which is where people show their true colors.

    1. She’s alright with me! People like Suze and Dave Ramsey have helped millions of people start to think more proactively about their finances. They were both great Personal Finance “gateway drugs” for me! ?

    1. Thank you J! I know you will. Your story of income diversification inspired me to grow my side business. Keep up the great work! You’re helping so many people.

  3. Early on, we were really inspired by Suze and Gail Vaz Oxlade. In early 2017, I binge-watched several seasons of ‘Til Debt Do Us Part. LOL. That show helped us get started on our debt repayment journey.

    We started tracking our net worth only verrrrry recently, when we signed up for Personal Capital (which I love). Of course we’re still in the red, but we’ve also seen that number get closer to zero, and pretty quickly at that.

    1. Zero was one of favorite milestones! It meant we turned the page of debt and started accumulating assets. I’m excited to follow your journey – I’m glad we’re connected on Twitter!

  4. I’m a mommy blogger and I stumbled upon this article accidentally in Sunday morning. Your post inspired me to revise our financing. A few years back we really cut out our expenses by spending our money only on necessities and we saved for down payment. But along the way we stopped tracking our expenses. Thank you for inspiration.

    1. I’m so happy to hear the article helped give you a jolt! Automation and online budgeting tools like Mint and Tiller have been huge for us. Let me know if you have any questions about getting re-started. I’m happy to help.

  5. Nice post. Illustrates how smart decisions with money compound well over a long-period of time, albeit only seven years. We tackled our student loan debt quickly, but are leaving our mortgage outstanding as we believe the ROI in the market will beat the post-tax interest expense. That tax deduction for us is very valuable.

    1. You’re smart to take advantage of the market like you are … if I knew what the market was going to do from 2013-2017, I might have gone all in on a brokerage account. Gotta love that bull run!

  6. Really interesting post. Not a traditional frugal/optimized path perhaps and still got it done. Shows there are many ways to FI. Would be great (and maybe it is in other posts) to share strategies on how your earned more. It seems that earnings must have really ramped up and you guys definitely didn’t inflate expenses too much, even with a new house and kids. Amazing.

    1. Great feedback! I will definitely work on a post about increasing income at work. It’s a huge piece of the financial freedom puzzle. I really appreciate the kind words. Thank you!

  7. Great story, full of really helpful lessons. I love that you can really see the progression each year as you guys learned more and started gaining more freedom and flexibility because of your increasing net worth. The real numbers are super helpful, too. BTW, loving what I’ve heard so far of the podcast. Keep up the great work!

    1. Thank you Andy! I like when articles I read include actual numbers – I wanted to do the same. I’m so glad to hear you’re digging the podcast too. I’d love any feedback you have.

  8. This post was a fun ride! I like how you had milestones along the way. I’ve been tracking my network with my wife’s for a little over a year now, and it’s rewarding to see it go up from negative to positive, and continue to grow.

    1. It is a fun way to track your financial success for sure. Tools like Personal Capital and Mint make it fun and easy. I hope your net worth soars in 2018 Joe!

  9. Great progress!

    How did you manage to get a $177k mortgage on a $140k house back in the day? Did you buy before 2007-2009 and the big crash?

    1. Thank you Wade! I bought the house in 2004 for almost $200k. At one point the “value” (according to the bank) went down to $116k! It was a rough time in the housing market in metro Detroit. But now we’ve bounced back big time!

  10. Hi Andy,

    Great post! I’m interested in how much you made v. how much your expenses were in the years after you paid off consumer debt and only had your mortgage. As you were paying it down, did you cut costs more to have more money to put toward the house or just earn more?

    Currently saving for a 20% down payment on a house but as we live in an incredibly expensive market it will likely be close to what yours was or more. Would love your perspective on how you guys saved even more aggressively.



    1. Saving up can be tough! We did our best to grow the gap between our income and our expenses.

      During our mortgage pay off time, we made between $100,000 – $200,000 annually. That number went down when Nicole started to stay at home with the kids.

      As for the pay down process, it was a combination of cutting costs and making more money.


      – We decreased our grocery budget from $900 per month to $600 per month by switching from Kroger to Aldi and using a list.
      – We went with some high deductible insurance plans that helped us save monthly.
      – Spent less on entertainment (going out, eating out, cut the cord on cable, vacation less)


      – Sold a bunch of stuff at our house (moped, bike, purses, clothes, electronics, etc)
      – Received bonuses at my job for exceeding my goals
      – Started a side hustle (writing, podcasting, blogging) to make extra money

      I hope this helps!

    1. Thanks Tracey! I use to get a value for my home. I’m so glad to hear you’re going to start tracking your net worth. Good luck and let me know if you have any questions I can help with.

  11. Great post. I am curious why you have decided to purchase your first rental property with cash when you have so many other options on the table (i.e. Heloc, traditional mortgage, etc). By financing the rental, it would allow you to purchase 3 properties for the price 1, reduce your tax liability, and and make the same amount of income. If you did this using a Heloc, it would allow you to hold on to your current cash holdings.

    Lastly, what are your plans for college tuition?

    1. Thanks for connecting Jeff!

      We’ve definitely thought about leveraging our first rental, but the simplicity of having no mortgage feels right for us. We only really want a few homes to help cover our living expenses.

      As busy parents, less feels like more lately. Less obligations, less commitments and less debt feels right. This gives us more time (physically and mentally) to enjoy life.

      As for college, we’re saving up in 529s for our kids. Based on predicted in-state college costs, we’ll have about half of the money needed by the time they are 18. We’ll supplement the rest with scholarships, our kids working and community college classes if needed.

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