Hey everyone! Andy here. Today, I'm thrilled to share our next millionaire interview. Becky from Utah and I have been connected for a few years now and I'm thrilled to share her huge family financial win on this blog. Her example of how to become a young millionaire through real estate, faith and family is beautiful! Enjoy!
First, it feels surreal to be writing a “How I Become a Millionaire by 40” article. I’ve read so many articles like this myself the past several years and appreciate Andy of Marriage, Kids and Money for letting me share some of what I’ve learned. By my request, he’s using “Becky from Utah” as my pseudonym name. I want to stay a “millionaire next door” for now and keep this milestone to myself, but I do care a lot about financial freedom for myself and others. So even though I’m staying anonymous, I hope you find this helpful!
Become a Young Millionaire: The Details
How old are you? If you have a family, tell us about them and their ages.
I’m 36. My husband is 37. We have four cool kids ages 0-8. They are our greatest joy and effort. We passed the net-worth-millionaire mark when our youngest child was less than two weeks old. (Between a brand new baby and an extra comma in our next worth, talk about the highest high of my life!)
What part of the country do you live in? Do you own your home or rent?
We live in the greater Salt Lake City area. I love the nearby mountain trails. We own a home with a basement mother-in-law apartment that we have been renting out for nearly two years (pretty much the entire pandemic) and we also own another Utah rental home, which was our starter home.
When did you start tracking your net worth? What was it at that time?
My husband and I have used Mint to track our net worth since September 2010, one month after we got married. We married with a lot of LOVE, big dreams, and very little money. I remember sitting down in our 600-square-foot apartment to talk about our finances. We had a bit of cash in the bank but with credit cards, our net worth was -$500.63.
We like to think about money in terms of a sports game, with offense (income) and defense (savings). At the start of our marriage in our mid-twenties, our “defense” was on point. We were both frugal, resourceful, and skilled at stretching a dollar. But our “offense” was just getting started.
We had very little income. My husband was still a full-time college student, attending class or studying for 10-12 hours/day.
I had graduated from college and was making between $24,000 – $26,000 a year working full-time for an airline. That was our main income (my husband would do odd jobs here and there to make a few hundred dollars) and all we needed at the time.
Although we had little in terms of income and net worth, we were very happy! We were much more interested in experiences than things.
The fact that I was paid to travel seemed like winning the lottery to me. I had free flights, so the whole world was open to us. We traveled more in those first three years of marriage than most people do in their whole lives. I made it to all 50 states by age 25 and we traveled together in first class(!) to Sydney, Paris, New York, Los Angeles, Hawaii, Alaska, Dominican Republic, and many more places.
In that pre-motherhood phase of life, my focus was checking off as much of the world map as I could.
What is your current net worth? What are your assets and what are your liabilities?
As of March 31, 2022, our net worth is:
Net worth: $1,122,852.16
Our assets consist of two properties (including our primary residence), retirement accounts, other investment accounts, education accounts for our four kids, two vehicles, a Health Savings Account (HSA), 529 education accounts, a checking account, and a five-month abundance fund savings (our version of “emergency cash”).
Our only debt is the mortgage on our primary residence – we 100% paid off our rental property last month, a few days after crossing the net-worth millionaire mark! We have no other loans or debt. We pay off our credit cards every month.
Become a Young Millionaire: The Process
What are your current sources of income? Does your spouse have other income sources?
Here are our multiple streams of income:
- Husband: Full-time salary + phone and car allowance + bonus
- Wife: Salary from my own business + quarterly owner distributions
- Rental income from two rental units ($2,400/month total)
- Investment income from stocks, retirement accounts, and education accounts
- Other random income, such as a maternal medical trial I’m participating in that pays me about $75/month.
This year we’re likely to bring in close to $400,000 for the first time. That feels like an absurd amount of money to me and I’m very grateful. We’ve increased our incomes substantially in the past few years. Five years ago we were closer to $60,000 annual income.
We have always tried to live on half of our income, and now we can very comfortably live on one-quarter of our income. So we do.
What has been the single best thing you’ve done to increase your income up until this point?
Most of our wealth has come from appreciation in real estate. We were fortunate to buy our first starter home at a steal of a deal in 2015.
Its value has increased 368% in six years. The single decision to buy that run-down home for $64,000 in 2015 has made all the difference for us. (My husband remodeled it and we put in about $30,000 in improvements the first year and made it our own.) We lived really simply for years while our peers were living in nice, big homes.
We wanted financial freedom for our family more than a fancy house.
For example, I wanted to know how it felt to be DEBT-FREE and put as much cash as possible towards paying off our first home. We scrimped, saved, paid extra every month and tracked the amortization schedule on a spreadsheet.
We paid it off in three years, symbolically on Independence Day. What a FREE feeling that was! (And to keep it real, we had almost nothing in our bank account to pull this off.)
Our home appreciated to $130,000 after a couple more years and we took out a home loan from it to pay the down payment for a second, larger home with a mother-in-law rental, where we live now.
We purchased our home for $465,000 in 2019, but it has appreciated to more than $700,000 just 2.5 years later. (The Salt Lake City metro market is booming!) In 2022, our starter home has appreciated to $300,000. So by leveraging a $64,000 home, we now have more than $1,000,000 in real estate assets and two rental properties within six years.
In what ways do you invest your money?
We think of our first and second homes as investments, since they both have a rental unit. We also invest in retirement accounts and stocks.
Did you receive an inheritance or windfall of some kind during your life so far?
In college, my dad surprised me once with a $2,000 check for tuition. We were also given a $10,000 check from a family member around the time we had our first baby. After she was born, we were given a vehicle from another family member who only charged us $1 for it. These all felt like huge windfalls for us and we’re grateful for the support.
What debts do you have (if any)? If so, what are they? Which have you paid off?
We paid off our first home. In fact, we’ve paid it off TWICE now, in 2018 and 2022. We graduated debt-free and have not had to worry about student loans. After that initial gift of a vehicle, we buy our other cars with cash. (We generally sell our cars after three years and buy a newer “used” car for ourselves.) So the only debt we have now is our primary residence, about $350,000 on a 30-year mortgage.
How do you track your net worth?
Mint. I’m a very visual person and being able to SEE our net worth has made all the difference for us. We are really diligent about keeping it updated and accurate. It’s been part of our marriage since the beginning.
For the past twelve years, Mint has “gamified” building wealth, with the common goal of growing our net worth. On any given day for more than a decade, I’ve known our net worth because I check it frequently! What you measure, you can grow.
Do you live on a budget?
Not really. I like the idea of personal budgeting, but instead, we have designated savings accounts for long-term goals, such as vacations and outdoor gear like a boat and off-road toys.
We have a rule that we talk about any purchase over $100, except for groceries and Costco runs. We’ve built a lot of trust in each other over the years. We’re a financial team, but there have definitely been times we didn’t agree on spending. (The biggest one was when I invested $15,000 in a business coach. My husband was furious about that, as it was nearly our annual mortgage payments, but I had big business goals and felt I needed an elite coach. It’s water under the bridge now and my investment has paid for itself in business growth. But I got what I needed and don’t plan on doing that again.)
What are your annual expenses?
What is your favorite fintech tool that helps you grow your wealth?
Hands down, Mint!
Related Content: Mint vs. EveryDollar: Which is Better?
Become a Young Millionaire: The Millionaire Mindset
Why is it important for you to build up your wealth?
I turned 30 in 2016 and wrote in my journal that I would be a millionaire before I turned 40. I figured it would be my “money decade.” I wrote that I wanted financial freedom so that I could do good. Not just a little good – but A LOT of good.
As I teach my kids: “Money equals choices” and “money is power to do good.” Having money to provide for our basic needs allows us to give our excess to others. It feels so good to be able to pass it forward and help others. We have always given 10 percent of our income in tithing to our church, and I’m now able to give to other causes as well, including sending support for Ukrainians during the current Russian invasion.
What is one financial mistake you’ve made during your young millionaire journey?
I’m not sure if this is necessarily a mistake, but it was a cause of unhappiness for me: I obsessed over the goal to be a millionaire for years. It felt so big and impossible, but seeing those two commas on Mint was something I really, really wanted and I’m extremely goal-oriented.
Plus, I like nice round numbers with zeros. Once one of our vehicles was approaching 100,000 miles. For me, it felt like going after money goals to watch the number increase with each drive. I took pictures of the progress getting closer to that milestone.
Here is 99,997 miles:
And then the big day came when we passed 100,000 miles:
I know it’s silly, but I felt like seeing this nice round number of 100,000 was a good omen of things to come for my bank account. I wanted that $1,000,000. And now it’s my reality!
If I could go back in time, I’d tell myself: “Stick to the plan and it’ll all work out. No need to obsess over numbers or check Mint 10 times a day. Trust that extra comma is coming.”
The other thing I also would not call a mistake, but have learned since crossing into millionaire territory: Money doesn’t solve all your problems.
Within a month of becoming millionaires, someone very close to me told me she wanted to end her life. She was on suicide watch for a week and I felt desperate for her to be safe. It was a big dose of reality that the most important investments we make in life are relationships with those we love.
Money helps to take care of basic needs and adds comforts and pleasures, but you cannot purchase what matters most. You can’t. I realized I’d give everything to keep her safe. (Thankfully she’s still here with us and doing better.)
What book has been most influential to you?
I can’t say just one.
Books have been great teachers on this journey. First, “Your Money or Your Life” by Joe Dominguez and Vicky Robin.
Second, “Millionaire Next Door” by Thomas Stanley. Both books helped me have a millionaire mindset and remember to put my life first.
What is one financial hack that has helped you that you think most people don’t know about?
Being frugal can get you really far financially. You can get a lot of things for FREE. For example, clothes are not a priority for me. I do my best to “acquire” clothes for myself and my kids, finding sources of hand-me-downs.
For years, I’d partner up with a friend of the same size and do clothing “swaps” where we’d share whatever we didn’t want anymore in our closets. My kids wear mostly hand-me-down clothes, gifts from grandparents, or thrift-store finds. I’ve saved us tens of thousands of dollars over the years because I almost never buy new clothes. (Only for very special occasions!)
Plus, re-using is better for the planet too.
Where do you find the most joy in your life?
My relationships with my family and God are my greatest joys in life. My husband and four kids are my dreams come true. I’ve wanted four kids since I was a kid and having them all in my home is more work than I ever imagined, but also more fun. It’s such a gift to watch my kids blossom into who they are.
Also, I spend a lot of time in the mountains. While hiking, I pray on quiet trails. I feel heard and loved by my Maker and have felt His guidance in my life.
My faith (belief in what I cannot see) has been a huge part of this young millionaire journey. I cannot talk about it without giving Him credit. And because God has opened so many financial doors for me, I feel a real responsibility to open doors for others.
For the person in their late 20's with a $0 net worth, what advice would you give them to become a millionaire by 40?
It’s possible! We did it and you can too.
Stay fiercely focused on WHY you want to build your wealth and spend/save accordingly. If you’re aligned with what you want, you won’t get distracted by whatever wealth artifacts others are buying.
Would you rather buy yourself freedom or be owned by your belongings? You’ve got this.
How to Become a Young Millionaire
To learn more about becoming a young millionaire, check out our full young millionaire archives. Best of luck on your millionaire journey!
Why are you looking to grow your wealth? What left you feeling inspired from this young millionaire interview?
Please let us know in the comments.
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