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Who wants to become a young millionaire?
According to Mr. and Mrs. Planting our Pennies, becoming a young millionaire doesn’t require you to continuously climb the corporate ladder. They found good paying jobs that allowed them to have a solid work/life balance and they still achieved financial independence at a young age.
Let’s get inspired by this young couple to hit our financial goals and smile along the way.
How old are you? If you have a family, tell us about them and their ages.
Mr. PoP – We’re 35, no kids (currently), and one cat.
Mrs. PoP – But Kitty PoP is a truly awesome cat, I promise.
What part of the country do you live in? Do you own your home or rent?
Mr. PoP – We live in Southwest Florida. We bought a foreclosed house as we were getting married in 2009 and have lived in it since then.
When did you start tracking your net worth? What was it at that time?
Mr. PoP – We started tracking our net worth together when we got married. It was about $50K in the fall of 2009, which was split pretty evenly between what we each brought to the union. A few years later we wanted to get more serious about investing and living intentionally, so we started our blog to keep track and began to post our monthly net worth updates online. At that point, we were worth about $300K.
What is your current net worth? What are your assets and what are your liabilities?
Mrs. PoP – Though we stopped publishing our net worth on our website at the end of last year, we still do monthly round-ups with one another. At the last one of those at the end of September, our net worth, including equity in our primary residence was about $1.8M. The dip in the markets at the beginning of October means it’s probably a bit less than that now (maybe closer to $1.75M?), but we honestly don’t check day-to-day, even on days when major market moves are all over the news.
Mr. PoP – Major assets include our home, a duplex that we rent out, an empty lot that we’ve been holding for appreciation, and about $1.1M in low-cost index funds spread across two 401Ks, two Roth IRAs, an HSA, a Donor Advised Fund, and a plain ole’ joint taxable brokerage account.
What are your current sources of income?
Mrs. PoP – Mr. PoP quit his job in June, but I’m still working for now and the duplex continues to bring in money as well.
What has been the single best thing you’ve done to increase your income up to this point?
Mr. PoP – I graduated with a degree in Philosophy, so employment opportunities were poor until I got into sales. B2B sales, particularly in software and technology, is a great career path for somebody looking to maximize their earnings.
Mrs. PoP – It might be kind of sacrilege to say in the FI community, but I would say that maximizing our income hasn’t *really* been a priority for us. Though we didn’t start off earning a ton, a few years into our marriage – after Mr. PoP’s successful transition to B2B sales in the tech industry – we found ourselves in a place where we worked hard-ish, and got rewarded pretty well for our efforts with combined income over $200K.
We could have pushed ourselves harder for more promotional opportunities or hopped to other companies for more responsibility and more pay, but we were pretty happy with where we were and we were working on enough projects outside of work that we didn’t really want to increase our work stress. So we just kind of rode out these jobs until we hit financial independence rather than pushing ourselves for more challenges and higher pay.
What ways do you invest your money?
Mr. PoP – When real estate was really depressed in southwest Florida we were active in that market. We bought our house in 2009, then our duplex in 2010, and our investment lot in 2011.
Mrs. PoP – That was about as much debt as we ever wanted to get in, and real estate prices started to spring back pretty well after that, so we veered off the real estate track around 2012. Since then, we’ve basically just invested in index funds or paid off the Real Estate loans. It’s not the most creative way to invest, but it did the job for us!
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Did you receive an inheritance or windfall of some kind during your life so far?
Mr. PoP – I received a $10K gift from my grandparents when I was in college, and a $10K gift from my mom after my father died last year.
Mrs. PoP – I had kind of the opposite. I covered a $5K debt after graduating from college that my parents had originally said they would pay but weren’t really able to.
What debts do you have (if any)? If so, what are they? Which have you paid off?
Mr. PoP – The mortgage on our house has a balance of about $66K. We could have paid it off years ago but the rate is only 3.25%, and it’s scheduled to be paid off by 2026 anyhow, so we’re pretty keeping it for now.
Mrs. PoP – We also have a loan taken out against our car that has a current balance of about $12K. When Mr. PoP wanted to buy a vintage sportscar a couple of years ago, we set the money aside for it in advance and did end up using cash for the purchase to make it easier. But after the fact, our credit union offered us a cash-out refinance loan against the car for something silly-low like 1.25%, so we took that and invested the proceeds in our taxable brokerage account.
The big loans that we paid off were the ones that we took out to buy the two investment properties – the duplex and our investment lot. We paid those off pretty quickly and have never really had an interest in having investment properties with a lot of leverage on them long term. Truth be told, we saw too many people get burned on that and end up losing properties in the Great Recession in Southwest Florida. We’re very conservative with investment properties as a result.
How do you track your net worth?
Mr. PoP – We track it monthly in a spreadsheet and for about six years we posted it online at the end of each month. But we stopped posting it online earlier this year as Mrs. PoP started to get a little squeamish about it. Nonetheless, the spreadsheet lives on and gets updated monthly. Luckily we’ve streamlined everything pretty well at this point, so updates only take about 5 minutes a month!
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Do you live on a budget?
Mrs. PoP – Sort of. We have a rough outline at the start of every year of where we think our monthly averages are going to end up, and then we track and review our spending at the end of every month. Usually, we end up pretty close to those monthly averages by the end of the year, but we aren’t militant budgeters.
What are your annual expenses?
Mrs. PoP – For the most part, our living expenses are in the neighborhood of $45-50K. This number goes up if we’re making improvements to our properties (for example, we did a major DIY remodel on our kitchen that bumped that number up for a couple of years).
What is your favorite fintech tool that helps you grow your wealth?
Mr. PoP – The community. FIRE was outside the mainstream for years and being a part of a tribe that is traveling the same path as you are is crucial to success.
Mrs. PoP – And I love mint.com. I started using it so long ago we have over 10 years of history stored in it – longer than we’ve been married!
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Why is it important for you to build up your wealth?
Mr. PoP – I have always craved freedom and Mrs. PoP has always craved security. Having a huge pile of investments is the best way to meet both of those goals and maximize happiness for the both of us.
What is one financial mistake you’ve made during your young millionaire journey?
Mr. PoP – I could have gotten into technology sales earlier in my career, so probably left a few hundred thousand on the table. We also could have used more leverage from 2009 to 2012 or so, but we’re just not those type of investors.
Mrs. PoP – Yeah, in hindsight, not being more aggressive at investing in real estate on the way back up was probably our biggest mistake – but I also don’t regret it since we didn’t want to overextend ourselves. We saw prices double from $50K for a duplex at the depths of the real estate crash to $100K a couple years later and thought that sounded expensive… little did we know they were going to basically double again within less than 5 years.
What book has been most influential to you?
Mr. PoP – Millionaire Next Door. Pretty early in dating Mrs. PoP when we were both 21 years old, I read it and passed it on to her. The lessons of having wealth, but not feeling the need to show it resonated with both of us and were some that have impacted a lot of how we live.
Mrs. PoP – Yeah, most people would look at our 1,100 square foot house and think of it as a “starter home”, with the idea that they’d live there for the first few years of marriage and then move on to something bigger and shinier as they aged and grew more successful to make sure others were aware of that success! Instead, we’ve pretty much always treated our house as our “forever home”. We put work into it because it’s something we want to enjoy and have no plans to sell it.
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What is one financial hack that has helped you that you think most people don’t know about?
Mr. PoP – Start a blog and participate in the community. For most people finding a tribe of like-minded individuals is critical to achieving FIRE in their 30s.
Where do you find the most joy in your life?
Mr. PoP – Sunrises, reading books in the hammock, working on projects with my wife…
Mrs. PoP – walks on the beach, riding a bike, paddling on a paddleboard on the gulf, woodworking, solving problems… We’re really pretty simple people so it doesn’t take much to make us happy. Heck, a neighbor just recently commented to us while we were on an evening walk around our neighborhood (something we do most nights) and said we always look like we’re having so much fun on our walks – and we are having fun! It’s the simple pleasures.
For the 20-something with a $0 net worth, what advice would you give them to become a millionaire in their 30’s?
Mr. PoP – There are only two levers to pull-spend less money, or earn more. Marry somebody who shares your goals, and then figure out how to pull those levers while maximizing your happiness.
Mrs. PoP – It’s almost silly advice, but I like to tell people to always find someone who complements them instead of just concentrating on finding someone who compliments them regularly.
Though we all love a good compliment now and then (why yes you do look lovely today!), someone who complements you is going to have strengths where your weaknesses are, and fill in your gaps. Someone who compliments you might be able to tell you how beautiful you are, but they’re unlikely to be able to find ingenious solutions to problems that you aren’t able to come up with. When facing life and rising to the challenges every day, I know exactly what kind of person I want by my side – and it’s someone who can do more for me than whisper sweet nothings. And well, clearly that person is Mr. PoP. =)
Where are you in your net worth journey?
Please let me know in the comments below!
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